All eyes are now on distributor Fecsa -- a subsidiary of Spain's largest utility, Endesa. It is widely seen as the main obstacle to reaching Catalonia's 1000-1500 MW target for 2010. Fecsa is blamed for holding up interconnection of wind plant long since authorised. But while parliament has urged the Catalonian authority, the Generalitat, to sort out the problem with Fecsa, politicians have not demanded a specific grid improvement plan. Much now depends on the Generalitat's response to parliament's plea.
The new boss of the environment department, Ramón Espadaler, is pushing for an immediate go-ahead to a handful of projects in non-sensitive areas. One such project is Eólic Partners' 120 MW Coll de Moro development, which plans to put up 60, 2 MW machines, reportedly from German supplier DeWind.
Nuclear and gas
But the Generalitat's industry department is giving the sector few signs of encouragement. Catalonia is one of Spain's largest generators of electricity and has three nuclear stations and a fondness for combined cycle gas plant to meet fast growing regional energy needs. This appears to be what Fecsa is saving its limited grid space for. "I don't know what Fecsa's intention is but there are many connection applications that have not received any response," APPA's Manuel de Delás said recently.
Developer Ecovent -- partially owned by Nordex -- is a typical example. It has all permits in hand for its 48.1 MW Tortosa plant, barring those from Fecsa. In 1997 Ecovent applied to connect 34, 1.3 MW turbines to the grid, but Fecsa says there is not sufficient grid capacity.
The wind sector's main hope for progress is now pinned on the recent surge of parliamentary support. In a recent presentation to the Catalonia energy commission, APPA's De Delás pointed out that of the 3400 MW of wind plant on-line in Spain, only 2.5% is in Catalonia, a region otherwise known for its leading role in industrial innovation. Catalonia, he pointed out, is in danger of missing out on one of the energy sector's most job intensive industries, even though many of Spain's leading renewables companies are based in the wind rich region. Among these companies are wind turbine manufacturer Ecotècnia and project developer Terranova, as well as the Spanish divisions of leaders like Nordex and NEG Micon. De Delás warns that these companies could abandon the region completely and head for more lucrative pastures elsewhere in Spain.