Cape Trafalgar purchase talks

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Spanish industrial group Elecnor has confirmed negotiations to buy the rights to Spain's most advanced offshore wind power project, the six-year old proposed 250 MW Cabo Trafalgar plan, from Umweltkontor, a German developer. "As the news has somehow leaked, we can only confirm there is an agreement, but it is not yet finalised," says Guillermo Planas of Elecnor's wind project development arm, Enerfin. "First, we must be absolutely certain of the project's technical and economic viability."

The news of a national offshore wind power regulatory framework for Spain -- to be ready by October -- provides a strong incentive. So far, no offshore license has been granted in Spain and lack of precedent has kept projects in procedural limbo. The central government intends to produce regulation that will determine strict procedures and establish pay rates specifically for offshore wind production.

"Development is gathering pace," says Planas. With Elecnor's entry, it is also gaining clout. Major industrial groups now back three of the four offshore projects totalling around 2000 MW proposed for the Cape Trafalgar area, close to the Gibraltar Straits. Construction giant ACS is a partner in a 540 MW development by Capital Energy -- which is also behind an 800 MW offshore project on the east coast (Windpower Monthly, September 2004). Acciona, another construction giant, now controls 100% of developer Energía Hidroeléctrica de Navarra (EHN), the sponsor of the 1000 MW Mar de Trafalgar development, Spain's largest offshore proposal. For its part, Elecnor not only has wide experience in turnkey wind plant construction services, but is also a major builder of land and marine-based electricity infrastructure.


One of Enerfin's main tasks is to ensure rights legally rest with Umweltkontor and not with NEK Umwelttechnik AG of Switzerland, which had started the project in 1999 and still claims ownership (Windpower Monthly, June 2004). Umweltkontor took over in 2001, but kept NEK on as engineering consultant. Bitter, unresolved disagreements have followed, but Enerfin's entry may force a resolution. Planas is unequivocal: "We want to build the project, not argue over it."

Technically, the development still lacks specific onsite data. Planas stresses the need for wind resource measurements and transmission requirements. He says, however, that the performance of Enerfin's nearby onshore wind plant in the Tarifa district, together with Umweltkontor's wind simulations, indicate good wind resources in the area.

"On the whole, we like the project and want to be involved in the beginnings of Spain's offshore market," says Planas. The company is eyeing up turbines rated at 3-6 MW for the project.

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