Developers unite to expand grid -- One for all on Tarifa 500 MW

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Four prospective wind power developers in the Tarifa area of southern Spain -- who between them are behind the lion's share of over 500 MW of proposed projects -- are pooling resources with the main aim of jointly financing a 220 kV power line. The four are also co-operating on other aspects of development, including permitting, to form a strong united front and reduce overall costs.

The new power line, to cost ESP 1 billion (EUR 6 million), is needed for at least 18 new plant planned for the windswept area of Andalusia with a combined output of 505 MW. The four members of the new association, the Asociación Eólica Tarifa (AET), are Wind Ibérica, Endesa Cogeneración y Renovables (Ecyr), Aerosur and Wigep. They are behind 420 MW of the 505 MW, while a fifth company, Desarrollos Eólicos SA (DESA) is also to join the association, says AET chairman Rafael Palomino of Ecyr.

Model for the industry

Apart from solving specific infrastructure problems, AET's objective is: "To optimise all resources to the common advantage of all," according to Palomino. "We are trying to unify as many aspects as possible within a single plant management unit." These include access routes, component storage, basic maintenance and even production monitoring. "We want to create a model for emulation throughout the wind industry," says Palomino.

AET has formed a common front in negotiations with Tarifa's mayor, Andrés Gil, who has the final say on permits. Although Gil has said his yes will come soon, Palomino points to past experience of protracted negotiations between wind developers and the Tarifa town hall. Gil is driving a hard bargain, he says.

Investment in the five proposals will run to ESP 60-80 billion, estimates Palomino. While it would be "imprudent" to mention how much of that will land in Tarifa's municipal coffers while talks with Gil are ongoing, Palomino says the area will see "considerable income." Further wealth will be generated by the business activity, taxes and other spin-offs from the creation of at least one company per project. Construction work and ancillary services will also all create employment.

The new wind plant are planned for siting alongside 491 turbines already on-line on the borders of the Alcornocales Natural Park and bird reserve. AET's chairman insists that all of it has undergone exhaustive environmental impact studies. He also says the proposals lie within the 518 MW maximum limit included in a study by regional energy agency Sodean working together with a state run scientific research organisation and the Doñana National Park research group.

All star line-up

Most of the proposed capacity will be built by Wind Ibérica. It has approval for 13 plant totalling 229 MW. Wind Ibérica is 50% owned by Denmark's World Wide Wind group, which operates a major development company, Jysk Vindkraft, in Denmark. The remaining 50% is shared equally by two private investors, former Wincon owner Jan Haahr in Denmark and Jose Illanes in Spain.

Ecyr, entirely controlled by Spain's largest utility, Endesa, has approval for three wind plant totalling 92 MW. DESA, the wind developing arm of electricity giant and wind turbine maker Abengoa, is developing at least four plant. Aerosur, a conglomeration of wind turbine maker Ecotècnia and developer Elecnor, is developing two plant totalling 55 MW. Finally, newcomer Wigep, founded last year, marries the financial power of Visa España's chairman, Eduardo Merigó, with the Huarte construction empire, to develop 45 MW.

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