Parallel to its big-time acquisition of UK utility Scottish Power (page 23), Iberdrola has entered small-scale distributed wind generation development in Spain. The first 12 small projects totalling 42.5 MW have got the go-ahead in Castile and León, backed by a EUR 52.5 million syndicated loan with seven Spanish savings banks. The developments belong to Encalsa, 90% owned by the utility's affiliate, Biovent, with 10% held by regional energy agency Ente Regional de la Energía. "We are studying further distributed wind energy projects," says Iberdrola's PR department, but declines to offer more details, citing commercial confidentiality. The Encalsa projects stem from a three year research and development program led by Biovent, called Distributed Wind Generation in Castile and León, locally known as GEODISCYL, carried out in collaboration with the Centre for Automation and Robotic Technology. The overall objective is to assess the technical viability of connecting up small wind plant close to rural centres of consumption, using available space in the local electricity distribution network and avoiding the energy losses occurring over the main transmission network. The program opens a further outlet for Iberdrola wind development in a region where lack of transmission capacity is holding back connection permits. GEODISCYL estimates the 12 wind stations will produce 90 GWh a year, revealing a capacity factor of 22%. Iberdrola is currently the largest wind operator in Castile and León with 767 MW online, or just under 20% of its total renewables operations.
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