Stunned silence from Spanish wind industry at offshore rules

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As many wind industry players have feared, project developers behind over 4500 MW of offshore wind proposals in Spain -- much of it planned since 1999 -- now face going back to the drawing board after controversial rules governing the market were finally issued by government prior to the summer recess. Under the rules, first drafted in 2005, a new Offshore Committee of representatives from five ministries and the coastal regional governments affected will progressively identify sites eligible for development and open each one to competitive tender, starting in January 2008 at the earliest. Despite widespread industry criticism, the rules say that project price will be a key criteria in selecting winning bids. While a relatively attractive top rate of EUR 164/MWh for offshore wind is on offer, twice the onshore rate, companies bidding in projects below that level gain extra points in the selection process. The wind industry's reaction has been stunned silence, with big players including Acciona, Enerfin and Capital Energy, all declining to comment. Prior to the regulation's approval, Enerfin, developing 250 MW off Cape Trafalgar, joined forces with utility Endesa to form a joint offshore venture to prospect new sites (Windpower Monthly, March 2007). Meanwhile, Sepides, the central government's industrial holding company, took a 10% stake in Capital Energy, which has plans for a series of offshore projects around the country, including an 850 MW facility between Valencia and Barcelona. Spanish waters are deep, limiting the number of potential sites that will go to tender; the potential for an offshore rush is considerable.

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