Spain

Spain

Valencia restricts selection to five -- Developers picked for 2142 MW

The regional government of Spain's easternmost region of Valencia has selected five companies, out of 17 applicants, to develop wind plant totalling 2142 MW. Just three of the five developers account for 87% of the total planned installed capacity -- and one of these, headed by the region's electricity distributor, Iberdrola, has scooped a 35% share. Meantime, plans presented by wind giant Gamesa and from utilities Unión Fenosa and Hidrocantábrico were rejected.

The regional government, or Generalitat, of Spain's easternmost region of Valencia has selected five companies, out of a total of 17 applicants, to develop wind plant totalling 2142 MW. Just three of the five developers account for 87% of the total planned installed capacity -- and one of these, headed by the region's electricity distributor, Iberdrola, has scooped a 35% share. Meantime, plans presented by wind giant Gamesa and from utilities Unión Fenosa and Hidrocantábrico were rejected.

The concentration of so much development into so few hands has already fuelled vehement political opposition to the selection. But of those left out, the large developers are remaining tight-lipped, even if their smaller regional partners are threatening legal action.

The five companies whose business plans won government approval are a mixed bag of partnerships between experienced national developers and a wide range of mostly regional businesses. The company with the biggest score, Energías Renovables Mediterraneas (Renomar) with 758 MW, is controlled by Iberdrola and Energia Hidroeléctrica de Na-varra (EHN), who each have a 25% stake. The remaining 50% is owned by regional shareholders, which Renomar declines to name. EHN is also keeping quiet about the intended turbine supplier.

Next is Guadalaviar, with 608 MW, headed by Elecnor, one of Spain's largest wind developers, and with a EUR 580 million business plan that reportedly involves no regional partners. German Enercon is said to be the technology supplier. Slightly less ambitious is Proyectos Eólicos Valencianos' 498 MW plan with a budget of EUR 450 million, backed by Spain's largest utility, Endesa, together with a minority partner, Sedesa, which one regional newspaper describes as "a construction company belonging to the family of the chief of police, Juan Cotino." Endesa is expected to use technology from its wind turbine subsidiary Made.

On a smaller scale, Eólica de Levante has been granted 150 MW. This company is a joint venture between Elecdey -- a small but experienced wind developer in Madrid -- and regional textile firm Colortex. Elecdey is cautiously sticking with trouble hit Enron as the supplier. On a similar scale, 120 MW has been conceded to Nuevas Energías Valencianas (NEV). It is mainly owned by two German companies -- Sistemas de Energías Regenerativas SA (SERSA) and Umweltkontor Renewable Energy SA, each with a 45% share. The rest is owned by regional firms. It is one of the first times in Spain that foreign wind project developers have got a look in. SERSA says it is looking for an alternative to bankrupt German Frisia (page 34) as turbine supplier.

Pleased minister

The regional minister for innovation and competition, Fernando Castelló, of the conservative PP party, is responsible for overseeing the selection. He says all the objectives of the Valencian wind plan "have been surpassed," including the goal of 1700 MW of wind power and the creation of 1500 jobs. The 2142 MW is expected to create 3500-4000 permanent positions, though the number of temporary jobs related to construction remains at around 20,000.

Overall investment in the Valencia region will be around EUR 1.98 billion, as expected, of which EUR 601 million is to be generated by regional businesses over the five year term of the wind plan. Castelló says regional businesses hold a 35% stake in the development to come. He expects them to earn EUR 90 million from their involvement, with municipal tax spin-offs totalling EUR 51 million and "compensation payments," managed by the Generalitat, totalling EUR 36 million. A definition of these payments is not provided, but presumably they relate to requirements for project developers to compensate for any negative impact that is suffered by a locality.

Accused of favouritism

This rosy view of regional benefits is already been questioned by the opposition party in Valencia. Joan Ribo of the left-wing Esquerra Unida party described the selection as "a hand out to friends of the PP, favouring companies like Iberdrola and Endesa." Ribo says the selection leaves out large regional firms, such as struggling shipbuilder Manises Diesel, which had pinned much of its strategic survival plan on manufacturing turbine towers, especially for its partner Izar, which makes Bonus turbines in Spain.

But the tangle of accusations is complex and confused, with a number of inconsistencies, such as the failure of an application backed by one of the region's most influential banks, Caja de Ahorros del Mediterraneo (CAM). How much impact the accusations of mishandling will have on Valencia's wind development remains to be seen. Castelló is confident that project licensing will begin by spring.

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