Local manufacture considered -- Portugal's steady progress

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Portugal is yet to show signs of developing a wind market the size of that of neighbouring Spain, but 99 MW is now being built to add to the 198 MW in operation, according to the Instituto da Engenharia Mecanica e Gestao Industrial (INEGI) at Oporto University. Moreover, project developers are optimistic that foundations will soon be laid for the country's first wind turbine factories.

Most recent contracts include the supply of 19 GE Wind Energy 1.5 MW machines to Enernova, the renewables arm of the country's only utility, Electricidade de Portugal. The deal is GE Wind's first venture into the Portuguese market, with the turbines delivered by its Spanish office.

Meanwhile, Nordex has a EUR 13 million contract to install ten of its 1.3 MW machines for Generg, a leading developer which says it has plans for 500 MW of wind. Germany's Enercon is also to supply two 2 MW machines to developer Finerge, an offshoot of Enercon's dealer in Portugal, Gellweiller.

These orders come in addition to those earlier in the year for five NEG Micon 900 kW units, 14 Bonus 1.3 MW turbines (from Bonus' Spanish partner Izar), nine Vestas 2 MW machines, and one Vestas 3 MW turbine. Megawatt scale technology dominates; of the 66 machines going up, only eight are smaller than 1 MW, with the average size running at 1.5 MW. "Portugal's experience with wind is very satisfactory and operators are generally pleased with turbine availability," says INEGI's Alvaro Rodrigues.

Fierce competition

The competition for turbine supply contracts has become fierce. With 38% of the market, Germany's Enercon still tops the list with its 2 MW machine proving a tender winner, but competition from the likes of Vestas (with a 20% share of the market) and Nordex (15%) is mounting, confesses Antonio Esteves of Gellweiller. Further competition is also on the horizon from newcomer Izar and fellow Spanish manufacturers Gamesa and Ecotècnia, each with their own large developments in the country (Windpower Monthly, March 2003).

To date, all wind technology used in Portugal is imported and with the recent exception of Izar all turbines have come from outside the Iberian Peninsula. "This adds between 20-25% to installed capacity costs," claims Carlos Pimenta of Siif, the Portuguese renewables arm of French utility Electricité de France. He confirms nascent initiatives, "both political and commercial," to establish a Portuguese turbine industry.

Gellweiller's Esteves adds: "If we clinched contracts for 500 MW we would definitely build a facility." He envisages the emergence of a Portuguese policy similar to that of Spain's, where regional authorities demand that the wind industry provides strategic plans for local investment -- to boost economies and create jobs -- before granting project concessions to developers. The promise of economic spin-offs could bring political pressure to bear on Portugal's wind sceptical local environment departments.

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