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Germany

Italian obligation sparking demand -- Enercon gets strong foothold

German wind turbine maker Enercon is now challenging the supremacy of Denmark's Vestas on the Italian market. Of the more than 200 MW of new wind plant being installed in Italy this year, Enercon expects to supply about three quarters of the total. In the article, Enercon tells how it has gained a foothold within the demands of Italian electricity legislation.

Germany's leading wind turbine maker, Enercon, is now challenging the supremacy of Denmark's Vestas on the Italian market. Of the more than 200 MW of new wind plant being installed in Italy this year, Enercon expects to supply about three quarters of the total. In March, Italy had about 550 MW of wind turbines turning, the vast majority of them supplied by Vestas. This capacity is being expanded to around 750 MW this year, says Kurt Stürken, Enercon's project manager for Italy, with 150 MW still to come from Enercon.

The German company's business in Italy began at the end of 1999 with a framework contract for 132 MW of turbines and an option for a further 11 Enercon 600 kW machines, all to be built by the end of this year for Edens, a subsidiary of Italian energy company Edison Energia. Three months ago, in March, that contract was extended with an order from Edison Energia for 76 E40 600 kW machines -- 45.6 MW -- also to be completed in 2001.

Enercon has had an Italian subsidiary in Benevento since 1999, but the machines are being supplied from its main German works in Aurich. Blades will come from Wobben Windpower in Brazil -- a company owned by Enercon's owner Alloys Wobben -- and towers from Portuguese company Tegopi, based in Porto, and Turkish company Cimtas, based in the town of Gemlik.

Installing about 100 MW from the first deal plus the new order before the end of this year is proving a challenge for Enercon's six installation teams. "We have been slowed by the high winds," says Stürken. But he is optimistic about the future for wind energy on the Italian mainland, as well as the islands of Sicily and Sardinia.

The first contract with Edison Energia was under Italian legislation known as CIP6, which guarantees a price for renewables power of about EUR 0.1/kWh for eight years -- but the funds for these payments are limited. The latest deal, however, will probably come under new legislation for a market based support system which requires a minimum percent of renewables power in all new power plant construction. The Italians have been supporters of the European Commission's preference for market based support of wind power.

The proposed new law setting the renewables obligation -- facilitated by trade in green power credits -- should have taken effect at the start of the year but has been delayed.

Two per cent obligation

Stürken explains that the law demands that approval for any new power generating capacity built in Italy will be conditional on the inclusion of an additonal 2% of the new generating capacity coming from renewable energy.

In the case of wind plant, which have an average output of 30% of maximum possible generation (compared with the 65-85% for thermal plant) the 2% is multiplied by three. Thus for every 100 MW of new generating capacity in Italy, 6 MW of wind turbines must be installed. Edison Energia's need for renewable energy plant in its portfolio is likely to rise steeply. It is currently bidding to buy 5000 MW of conventional capacity out of a total 15,000 MW being shed by utility giant ENEL, says Stürken. "This means it could need 300 MW of rated wind capacity soon."

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