Boom and bust concerns

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Grid limitation on wind development is a hot issue in Spain. While developers are showing signs of frustration as grid capacity is exhausted in some areas, energy planners are warning that the rush to fill every available site in Spain -- initiated by the premium rates on offer for wind power -- could backfire on the industry in the long term.

The owner of the national grid, Red Eléctrica Española (REE), estimates that more than 10,000 MW installed wind would pose a serious threat to Spain's grid stability, according to REE's Luis Martín. This conviction has its doubters in the wind industry, but whether true or not, the race is on for what grid capacity there is. "Those regions still pondering their approach to wind development face the risk of arriving too late," says EHN's Jose Arrieta.

Not all agree, however. Forcing the pace of wind development could have serious implications for the future, with no space left for later generation turbines. Many industry insiders are reluctantly whispering that a reduction in the premium payment tariff would be useful in order to filter out less profitable ventures and to promote optimum efficiency at the hands of the best developers and technology.

Indeed, José Monzoníz of Valencia's industry and energy department counters allegations that the region's moratorium has been akin to "wind development suicide." He insists that in the long term a mad wind development rush now would not be in the region's best interests, or in those of the wind industry.

Given the environmental considerations that have direct implications on tourism -- Spain's largest industry -- Monzoníz explains that Valencia's plan must ensure optimum turbine performance on the limited number of sites eligible for development. He insists that development in the region must guarantee profitability, "If and when the existing feed-in premium is reduced."

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