Megawatts dominant in Zaragoza

The third Zaragoza PowerExpo left no doubt that the event is now seen as a must attend for the wind industry. Major displays of megawatt wind power technology dominated the exhibition hall, totally overshadowing the wind industry's competitors

Although not a wind power event, Spain's bi-annual PowerExpo international energy and trade fair is fast becoming a sector point of reference. Whereas wind dominated only one pavilion in 2000, both pavilions at this year's event left non-wind-related exhibitors struggling for elbow room. "PowerExpo is not only proof of growth and competition within the wind power industry but also an indication of how it is competing in the energy sector as a whole," says Antonio de Lara of turbine manufacturer Made Tecnologías. And the buzzwords were clear: "multi-megawatt technology." Five nacelles from wind turbines with nominal ratings over 1 MW were exhibited, while two blades designed for 2 MW machines from Germany's NOI were stretched across an entire pavilion.

The 2002 event was the third PowerExpo in Zaragoza, capital of the wind boom region of Aragón. It attracted around 7000 visitors -- 13% up on 2000, with a significant proportion of professionals among them. Commercial activity was also frenetic according to manufacturers. At one point six commercial meetings were being held simultaneously at Spanish manufacturer Ecotècnia's stand. Furthermore, De Lara claims to have had contact with a large number of German developers. Most, however, regarded PowerExpo as a way in to the Spanish market rather that a way out for Spanish products and services.

The event reflected the top-heavy nature of the Spanish wind industry. Turbine manufacturers were flashing new technology from numerous high-tech stands. "Only Vestas and Lagerwey of the major turbine manufacturers were not present," says Antonio Alarcón of magazine InfoPower, a co-organiser of the event. Pandering to the manufacturers' every need were a vast number of component and service stands.

"Project developers and planning agencies were missing," notes NOI's Gört Gottebohm. The good number of wind developers present were all anonymously in civvy clothes, with the exception of German developer Umweltkontor, the only non-utility developer to have a stand. "It just shows how hard things are for small developers in Spain," says Umweltkontor's Oliver Scheld.

Advance orders

At the manufacturer stands, General Electric Wind Energy displayed its 1.5 MW machine, series produced at its Spanish facility in Albacete and currently going up in Navarre and La Rioja. Izar-Bonus, supplier of Bonus technology in Spain, showed its 1.3 MW model, currently going up in Galicia. Made Tecnologías displayed its 1.3 MW machine, while Spain's dominant manufacturer, Gamesa Eólica, chose to present its brand new 1.5 MW turbine, soon to go up as a prototype. Ecotècnia exhibited its 1.67 MW turbine. Although a prototype of this machine is only just about to go up, Ecotècnia's Nuria Cererols confirms advanced orders, including a contract for 81 machines in Galicia. The sixth nacelle came from NEG Micon, which chose to show its 900 kW technology, which the company says is its leading model in projects currently building worldwide.

German manufacturer Enercon, which expects to set up a major facility in Valencia region very soon, attended its first Spanish fair, though without displaying any machines. Nordex, a veteran to the Spanish market and the first company to put up magawatt machines in Spain, preferred to bus out exhibition visitors to the 1.3 MW wind turbines turning at its nearby 19.5 MW Desaguila wind plant in Aragón.

Megawatt wind technology also dominated the second of the two day technical conferences. Here, developers expressed concerns regarding the fact that manufacturers were pulling developers into new and largely untested technological terrain. Juan Ramón Jimenez of Gamesa Eólica said his company would continue to provide the whole range of machines, starting at 660 kW, increasingly adapted to the specific conditions of each site. Perez of NEG Micon said that while the cost/efficiency ratio was optimum for medium rated machines -- 750 kW to 900 kW -- larger machines were becoming increasingly important, especially where regional governments require developers to use as low a number of machines as possible in order to reduced visual impact.

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