Serious activity in Croatia at long last -- Up to 160 MW this year

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Trying to overcome years of unmet clean energy expectations, Croatia has set an ambitious target for 2009 of meeting 5.8% of electricity demand with between 300-400 MW of generation from renewables -- most of it wind. Investor interest is keen and hopes are that incentives, including Croatian power company HEP's EUR 0.072/kWh purchase price for wind power, will foster growth. About 160 MW of wind power should come online this year, a considerable leap from the 17 MW now installed, even if the larger goal for wind is missed. No wind capacity has been added for years.

One barrier to progress is the continued insistence by authorities that a maximum 400 MW of wind capacity can be added through 2012 due to limited transmission capacity. Another is red tape: the economy ministry has granted preliminary approval to 43 of 113 applications for wind power projects with a combined capacity exceeding 1.3 GW and total value of EUR 1.5 billion. Approval of many others, however, is likely to drag on given Croatia's complex procedures. Authorities must also work out how to award permits in 17 applications overlapping geographically.

Despite the obstacles, developers are making some progress. Croatia's biggest wind farm yet, the 42 MW Vratarusa project of Vestas 3 MW turbines, is nearing completion. The two developers, Croatia's Valalta and Wallenborn Projektentwicklung of Germany, have invested over EUR 57 million in the project, at Senj, in Licko-Senjska county. The plant will generate some 125 GWh annually. This month, Croatian-German firm Enersys is expected to conclude construction of the 10 MW Orlice wind farm above Grebastica near Sibenik, its second wind plant in Croatia. As was the case with Enersys' first wind power plant, the 11.2 MW Trtar-Krtolin project, HEP will buy all electricity for 15 years.

Adria Wind Power has continued work on its Ravne-2 project on the island of Pag, which received authorisation before the government banned construction of wind power plant on Croatian islands in the Adriatic Sea. The 5.95 MW expansion of the site, Croatia's first wind farm, will see the installation of an additional seven Vestas turbines at a cost of EUR 9 million. Four local companies -- HEP, Dalekovod, Koncar and Tudic Elektrocentar -- have also announced plans to develop wind projects.

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