Regional plan gives boost to Galicia -- First phase of Somozas on-line

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Wind power's surge in growth in Spain's northern region of Galicia brought another 24 turbines on-line last month, marking the completion of the first phases of the As Somozas wind plant in the province of A Coruña. This adds 14.4 MW to Galicia's total installed capacity of 481 MW, moving the region to the top of the Spanish league in wind -- nudging Navarra from the post.

The 11.4 MW second phase, Parque E—lico de Monte Da Serra, is planned to be on-line next month, according to Ignacio Aguiriano of Energ’as Ambientales SA (EASA), the project's developer. The third and final phase of 22.2 MW, known as Parque E—lico de Monte Vilalbesa, will bring the total turbine count to 80 and the plant's installed capacity up to 48 MW. Total investment will amount to ESP 7800 million (EUR 46.9 million). Annual production is expected to be in the order of 124,800 MWh, Aguiriano says. All machines, 600 kW in size, are supplied by Spanish wind turbine manufacturer Ecotècnia.

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The development and ownership organisation of the wind farm is noted as a gleaming example of Galicia's rigorous integrated wind development law, Plan E—lico, from 1995. It demands that 70% of the manufacturing process of any wind plant be carried out in Galicia, motivating regional investment and creating jobs.

Ecotècnia turns out the turbines for the plant in the small rural town of Somozas, also supplying other wind plant in Galicia and Navarra. The assembly facility is located within a small industrial estate that has grown up around it, less than two kilometres from the wind farm. The plant produces 25 turbines a month -- 12 units of Ecotècnia's 750 kW model and 13 units of its 600 kW model -- employing 70 people.

Abenconsa SA, the site construction company, and EMESA, which manufactures the towers in A Coruña, are both Galician companies. Cobra/Moncobra, in charge of the electrical installation, has a subsidiary in Galicia.

The 80 turbines in Somozas snake through 10.6 kilometres of land belonging to 165 property owners. The year long negotiations with the landowners established an average annual levy on EASA of ESP 250,000 (EUR 1503) for each turbine installed. Most properties had previously been unused or, at most, reserved for sheep grazing.

EASA is a joint venture between three companies. Sixty percent belongs to Energ’as y Recursos Ambientales (EYRA), the renewables arm of the ACS Group -- which turned over a massive ESP 500 billion last year (EUR 3005 million). Union Fenosa Energ’as Especiales, the renewables section of utility Union Fenosa, owns 30%. The remaining 10% belongs to Ecotècnia.

The three phases making up the Somozas wind plant form part of EASA's strategic plan for Galicia, which includes another six plant for 98 MW. The Galican government approved EASA's application along with strategic plans from another 14 developers in 1996 for 3135 MW of wind power. EASA already has one 15 MW plant up and running in Malpica. In August, EASA expects to receive the go-ahead for the construction of a further 18.75 MW in the Galician district of Novo. It also hopes to begin on another 49.5 MW in Vimianzo by spring 2001.

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