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Trying out the German model

Abo-Wind is the latest in a growing line of German project developers looking to Spain, until now considered a hard nut to crack for foreign outfits. Like its German rivals in Spain -- especially Nevag affiliate SERSA and Umweltkontor -- the company wants to develop both large plant of over 10 MW -- around 70% of its portfolio -- and small plant under 5 MW.

Abo's Matthias Hollman is optimistic regarding the 100 MW in Abo-Wind's Spanish pipeline -- 20 MW more than its current on-line total in Germany. The company, based in Valencia, opted out of Valencia's recent wind tender, deciding the project concessions were too large. But it was quick to pick up on a clause allowing companies to build single plant of up to 3 MW.

"The owners of such small plant have to prove they will consume a certain amount of energy produced," explains Hollman."As in Germany we aim to draw in local investors in all our projects, as our experience proves this greatly boosts support for projects locally." He considers an attractive option to be the use of so-called closed-end funds, a German speciality whereby investors participate in projects as limited partners. Hollman says Abo-Wind is still studying the application of such a scheme in Spain, where the legal framework would require adapting the German model.

Outside Valencia, which Abo earmarks for around half of its small projects, the company is planning large and small plant in Catalonia, Aragón, Murcia, Castile-La Mancha and Andalucia. Regarding large projects the company is closing joint venture talks with two developers, "one Spanish and the other partly Spanish." We want at least 50%," says Hollman. Meanwhile, the company is negotiating project finance, mainly with German banks. On choice of technology Abo is looking for turbines of up to 2 MW rated capacity. "What is certain though is that we won't be using anything lower than 600 kW," adds Hollman.

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