By APPA's numbers, wind's growth rate fell from 45% over 2002 to 28.5% over 2003. Industry group Plataforma Eólica Empresarial (PEE), representing the operators of 85% of Spain's wind capacity, is unruffled by the slower pace, but while APPA agrees it "is not alarming," it says 1500 MW is needed each year to meet the 17.5% renewables target laid out in the EU's renewables directive. Wind now accounts for 4.5-5% of the mix, while electricity consumption is growing at 5.6%. Given a pitiful performance from other renewables last year, APPA stresses that building wind power is of critical importance.
The wind industry is exuding optimism on the eve of a new tariff model aimed at injecting long term economic stability into the sector. Following a storm over the central government's first draft proposal in December (Windpower Monthly, February 2004), "We are now opening our eyes to much more favourable document regulation," says PEE's Ramón Fiestas. The government says it hopes to pass the tariff bill before the March 14 general election.
Ongoing changes to the draft come from recommendations by CNE, which take the sting out of some of the economic and technical demands which both APPA and PEE said would stop wind development. In a transition clause, the renewed draft allows operating wind plant to stay with the existing tariff model until December 2010, before they have to choose one of two new models: a regulated tariff for the lifetime of the plant, or a 40% premium on top of the price for sales of wind output on the power pool.
Furthermore, CNE has said that penalties on wind power for failing to deliver power on schedule should be reconsidered and that wind plant operators should receive financial incentives if they employ technology that helps maintain grid security.
"While regional governments negotiate grid improvements to absorb more wind, the main problem now is one of grid dynamics rather than grid saturation," says PEE's Alberto Ceña. For security reasons, REE is to deny grid access to wind generation above 3000 MW in periods of low demand, says Ceña. On a windy Christmas morning three months ago, REE asked for voluntary compliance from Iberdrola to halt production for several hours from 700 MW of the 1981 MW of wind on its system. Iberdrola agreed to help out.
Grappling the grid
The Spanish regions are nearly all making efforts to improve grid capacity. The economic boost that wind power development brings to the regions makes them keen to facilitate solutions to grid-lock problems. Andalucia, where wind development has been at a near standstill, has agreed to grid improvements with REE to allow for connection of a proposed 2485 MW. Castile and León, with a 3500 MW target, has closed the doors on new project applications while it negotiates grid improvements with REE. It has applications for connecting 20,000 MW of wind. Ongoing grid improvements in Galicia -- which now has 1279 MW turning -- has lifted an annual 250 MW cap on development to 525 MW. Castile-La Mancha has signed an agreement with Iberdrola for co-ordination of grid improvements for a minimum of 1200 MW of new wind plant over the next two and a half years.
Aragón, the first to deal with specific grid planning for wind, managed to get 261 MW connected last year. La Rioja and Asturias are also making piecemeal progress with the grid, but Catalonia is struggling. It has 1000 MW of projects ready to go ahead, but only managed to provide access for 77 MW, which will come online this year. There was no development in Catalonia last year. Valencia, which allocated development rights for 2242 MW to five companies last year, is also planning grid improvements. The first new plant in Valencia are expected online by the end of 2004. REE is studying grid planning here, which will also affect the neighbouring region of Murcia.