Spain added 835 MW of new wind plant in 2001, bringing its national wind generation to 3335 MW -- at least according to national renewables producers' association APPA. The state run energy research and development centre, Ciemat, is not so sure. It has provisionally chalked up a cumulative total of 3025 MW -- up 750 MW on its tally for 2000. But even this conservative estimate from Ciemat puts Spain's annual installation rate 50 MW ahead of target for meeting the aims of the national renewable energy promotion plan -- Plan de Fomento -- for 8974 MW of wind power by 2010. APPA, though, warns against complacency, pointing to a slight drop in the rate last year compared to growth in 2000.
The northern states of Galicia and Navarra still lead the way (map). La Rioja, a surprising newcomer in 2000, doubled its capacity, while Asturias finally got 24 MW up, though the region is facing severe grid restrictions and bottlenecks at the early planning stage. Aragón's grid reinforcement plan seems to have pulled the region out of the doldrums of 2000 and a local grid agreement in Andalucia's Tarifa district has allowed 500 MW to go ahead. Not all grid constraints have eased, however. The developers of potential projects totalling over 1000 MW in each of the Andalucian provinces of Almeria, Málaga and Granada anxiously await some sign that a grid improvement plan will be implemented.
Valencia's approval of five separate business plans for wind power development -- representing a combined capacity of 2142 MW -- was among last year's hottest headlines. Over 35% of the total concession has gone to a renewables joint venture headed by the region's dominant utility and distributor, Iberdrola. For this reason, the usual utility obstacles to grid improvements -- a complaint reiterated by wind developers nationwide -- seems unlikely to be repeated in Valencia. Turbines are expected to go up at a smooth pace.
Meanwhile, last year's approval of regional wind regulation plans in Castile La Mancha and Castile and León, with targets for 2500 MW and 2900, respectively, did not open as much new development as expected. Just 81 MW went up in Castile La Mancha -- all but 24 MW of this by Energías Eólicas Europeas (EEE) -- and 98 MW was commissioned in Castile and León.
Grid constraints are again the reason for delays in these regions. Castile La Mancha's regional government, which has waved the start flag for 464 MW, says the order of priority for connection of the remaining projects is now being finalised. Again, EEE has the lion's share with 201 MW, all for Cuenca province, while the renewables affiliate of utility Hidrocantábrico, Sinae, has bagged 141 MW. Gamesa Energía, Elecdey and newcomer Evolución 2000 will build the remainder.
The approach in Castile and León is similar. Despite last year's comparatively modest results, Enrique Collantes of the regional industry department says the pace is picking up, with a further 224 MW building or about to build and more than 600 MW at an advanced stage.
While Spanish developers and manufacturers still dominate, the market is slowly opening up to foreigners, especially in the area of megawatt technology. Nordex's Spanish division became the first to put up series megawatt turbines, now turning at Aragón's 19.5 MW Desaguila plant, mainly owned by an American company, Cinergy Global Power. Denmark's NEG Micon is also supplying turbines to foreign developers in Spain, including 18, 750 kW turbines to Germany's BBB Umwelttechnik and 132 of the same machine to a consortium of US-based TXU (40%), Germany's BVT Energie und Umwelttechnik (30%) and Umweltkontor Renewable Energy AG (26%).
Foreigners have also found success in Valencia. Among the region's chosen few is German-based consortium Nevasa with plans for 120 MW, while German turbine manufacturer Enercon is setting up shop in Valencia following an agreement to supply 608 MW to the region.
Foreigners will not have their way for long, perhaps. All of Spain's major turbine manufacturers -- Gamesa, Made, Ecotècnia and Izar Bonus -- are beginning to move into megawatt technology. While nothing more than prototypes have gone up so far, Made has nonetheless clinched a contract for 14, 1.32 MW turbines for Castile and León -- machines it hopes to gain experience with at home before the Spanish market reaches saturation point and it is forced to look abroad.
As yet, however, total Spanish exports still remain below 50 MW, none of them for megawatt machines. This is mainly due to a comfortable home market full of corporate siblings and cousins prepared to buy up technology.
But while this incestuous set up might have taken some of the urgency out of finding customers abroad and modernising production facilities, mentalities are changing fast. Last year EHN issued a warning to Gamesa by introducing its own range of 1.3 MW turbines for greater versatility. Not only is EHN a major customer of Gamesa, but both are controlled by Iberdrola.
This move followed EHN's massive order for 79, 1.5 MW machines from Enron Wind and another one for 50, 750 kW Lagerwey turbines, breaking a long exclusive run with Gamesa. Furthermore, Gamesa Eólica's run on the stock market and its recent split with its technological partner, Vestas -- which has now become a competitor -- are also applying pressure on Gamesa to upgrade technology.
This year opens with Nordex, NEG Micon and Enron Wind bracing themselves for more action. Enron clinched deals last year to supply 99, 1.5 MW machines -- 66 for La Rioja and 33 for Cuenca province -- and is pencilled in as supplier of Elecdey's 158 MW plan for Valencia. Nordex Ibérica has confirmed advanced negotiations for no less than 500 MW in Spain and is about to start turning out machines from its new factory at Albacete in Castile La Mancha -- 185 800 kW turbines for Sinae. Meanwhile, NEG Micon installed 204 MW last year, bringing its total to 339 MW, and has since scored an order for 88, 750 kW turbines for Spanish developer Alabe in Galicia. It has also been picked by Danish-based Wind Ibérica for supply of around 60, 2 MW machines. Wind Ibérica has been licensed to construct 220 MW in Galicia.