Leaving its teens and ready for adulthood -- Spain goes for growth

Google Translate

Consolidation, growth and maturity were the hallmarks of the Spanish wind market in 2005. Five leading companies now own around 70% of installed capacity. Turbine demand has exceeded supply. Most wind plant operators schedule and trade wind production on the wholesale electricity market -- and by the end of the year all wind plant will be equipped for emergency override-control by the grid operator if production should exceed demand. Most will also contribute to grid stability by staying online during transient grid faults to help the system recover.

Spanish wind power has come a long way in a decade. Wind power generating capacity was pushed through the 10 GW barrier to reach 10,028 MW by the end of 2005 following the addition of 1524 MW during the year, reports national wind group Asociación Eólica Empresarial (AEE). The volume of new capacity was 35% down on the 2361 MW installed in 2004, but with new regional markets opening up and several thousand megawatts in planning there are no immediate signs of the Spanish market maturing just yet.

Installed wind capacity had already topped nuclear by January 2005. Over the whole year, the wind power fleet produced 20,236 GWh, outstripping, for the first time, Spain's hydroelectric production (just over 19,000 GWh). Wind met 7.8% of electricity demand over 2005, according to transmission system operator Red Eléctrica de España (REE). The monthly average peaked in December, at 15%. Furthermore, 91% of capacity now trades and programs day-ahead production on the wholesale electricity market. "Wind has entered the electricity mainstream," says AEE's Fernando Ferrando.

Integrating 20 GW

A slowed response from REE in granting grid connection permits contributed largely to last year's deceleration. REE alarms rang after the central government raised the 2010 wind target last year from 13 GW (fixed in 2002) to 20 GW. The pressure, however, led to a step-up in ongoing joint studies between REE and AEE on how to integrate more wind into the system while ensuring security of supply (Windpower Monthly, Sept 2005). The effort has produced new grid codes -- pending the central government's rubberstamp -- obligating wind plant to incorporate grid security technologies and procedures, which, if met, will free the way to 20 GW.

Of Spain's 14 regional wind markets, south-central Castile-La Mancha was the most active last year, installing 432 MW which brought cumulative capacity to 2017 MW. The figure treads on the heels of traditional leader Galicia, now operating 2369 MW. Despite a regional target of 400-500 MW a year, Galicia slowed to 267 MW over 2005, mainly due to regional elections in the winter. "Elections practically halt processing five months either side," says Manuel Pazo of regional wind association Asociación Eólica Gallega

In third place, Castile and León connected 293 MW last year. The region currently has a further 200 MW building, according to Eugenio Garcia of regional association Asociación de Productores Eólicos de Castilla y León. He now hopes REE will speed up its grid permitting, the only obstacle to building a further 1000 MW of mature projects.

A big boost over the next two or three years will come from the tardily emerging regional markets of Valencia, in the east, and Andalucía, in the south, aiming at 2300 MW and 2700 MW, respectively, before end-2008. Take-off in both regions comes later than planned, mainly due to delays in processing and building needed grid lines. Andalucia connected 87 MW last year, up 23% on its cumulative total end-2004. With connection concessions cleared on 2400 MW, the regional government hopes to reach 1800 MW by end-2006. Regional association Asociación de Productores Eólicos de Andalucia (APREAN) says 1000 MW is more realistic.

In Valencia, developer Renomar -- half owned by Spain's Acciona and half by local firms -- is currently building 373 MW in zone ten of the 2300 MW development concession it won in the region. The zone ten development should be online by the summer, says Salvador Cuco of Valencia's energy agency Aven. "Two hundred megawatt in zone six will also open soon, followed by 150 MW in Zone ten," he says.

Valencia will harbour the first factory in Spain to produce German Enercon turbines. Enercon is to supply Guadalaviar, which has development concessions in zones six and ten. Enercon is manoeuvring to take off in Spain after an agreement to supply an 800 MW development proposal for Galicia lodged by top utility Endesa, which owns half of Guadalaviar (Windpower Monthly, July 2005). The other half, Enerfin, dropped Spanish manufacturer Ecotècnia as the supplier for 300 MW proposed in Galicia, according to Ecotècnia sources. Enerfin and Enercon decline to comment.

Apart from Enercon, there are no other major signs of inroads on Gamesa Eólica's 62% share of the market. One new turbine model might see the light of day, however. After operating prototypes since 2001, MTorres, based in the small northern region of Navarra, has just opened a factory in Olvega, Castile and León, where it aims to produce its 1.65 MW turbine at the rate of 100 units a year.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles
and free email bulletins.

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Windpower Monthly Events

Latest Jobs