German utility RWE Energie is hoping to take a one-sixth share in a new 16.5 MW wind power station to be built in Spain next year. The project is being developed by Spanish utility Endesa near Cedeira in Galicia at a cliff-top site where wind speeds average 7 m/s. The turbines are expected to operate between 2700 and 3000 full load hours per year.

The two utilities are currently negotiating over RWE Energie investing DEM 5 million in the DEM 30 million project within the framework of an agreement signed by the two utilities several years ago for co-operation in the power station sector.

The wind project would comprise 55, 330 kW turbines, manufactured by Endesa subsidiary, Made. This is currently the largest Spanish turbine commercially available. Whether larger turbines, from a foreign manufacturer, could be used is doubtful. The site is remote and accessible only via narrow, winding roads with several small bridges to negotiate. In addition Endesa is aiming to keep costs down by using only one type of turbine, and is keen to use the Made model. It already has experience with operating the turbine and believes this will minimise problems expected because of the turbulent winds at the site.

RWE Energie is keen to become involved in the Cedeira project in order to gain experience in the installation and operation of its first sizeable wind power station. Up until now it only has two single turbines, operating near Trier in Germany. Although the German utility's supply area does not include windy coastal locations, RWE Energie wind staff expect to be able to apply the know-how gained from the Spanish project to development of wind energy in inland areas in Germany.

Polishing green image

The Spanish wind station is one of three wind projects included in a new DEM 100 programme launched by RWE Energie to promote the use of renewable energies. Largely intended to add an extra shine to the utility's attempt at a green image, the programme is an assembly of various renewables projects. A single biomass project benefits from the largest share of the programme's funds, DEM 26 million. Wind energy gets the smallest share, DEM 7.5 million, while hydro receives DEM 24 million and solar nearly DEM 25 million.

Not all the programme's cash will go to renewables, though. Some DEM 20 million has been earmarked for the utility's KESS programme, where householders are paid a DEM 100 bonus when they replace their old refrigerator or freezer with a new low-energy appliance.

Aside from the 16.5 MW Spanish wind station, there are two other wind projects bundled into the programme -- the testing of a large (1 MW or more) wind turbine somewhere in the RWE Energie supply area, budgeted at DEM 1.5 million; and a study to assess the potential for wind energy in RWE Energie's electricity supply area, to cost DEM 1 million.

The large turbine will not be the expected vertical axis model, now that the utility's co-operation with Heidelberg Motor for development of a 1.2 MW machine has ended. RWE Energie has not yet decided which company it would like to co-operate with in the future, although Heidelberg has said it will develop a conventional three bladed 500 kW machine. RWE wishes for a German partner and observers say a company based in North Rhine Westfalia is most likely. The possibilities may then be restricted to Thyssen Rheinstahl Technik, based in Duesseldorf, which is the worldwide marketing partner for Danish wind turbine manufacturer, Nordtank; Wind Strom Frisia of Minden, which co-operates with Wind World, also of Denmark; and Wistra in Ibbenbüren, which markets Dutch Nedwind turbines.

RWE's wind potential study will cover the whole of its massive supply area and will be drawn up with the co-operation of local governments. The response to an initial letter describing the project to all communal and district governments has been positive. The study will include both licensing and grid aspects and is expected to take well over a year to complete. The final report will be made available to the public.

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