The utility plans to start the project by expanding its 360 kW experimental La Muela wind plant of 14 small machines, situated 30 kilometres west of Zaragoza in Arag—n's river Ebro valley. The valley is a vast region with an estimated ceiling for wind development of 300 MW, one of the highest in the country. Sources at Endesa say that initial plans are to multiply La Muela's output by adding 5 MW to the current 360 kW, turning it into a fully-fledged commercial enterprise to be connected to the grid by 1995. The expansion will be called Arag—n.
Although concrete details of the deal have yet to be released, 50% of the funding will be channelled through Électricas Reunidas de Zaragoza (ERZ) and Made, two of Endesa's numerous subsidiaries. The regional government of Arag—n which is currently in the process of tapping EU grants for the project, will manage the rest.
The projected expansion will use 16, 315 kW turbines designed and built by Made -- Endesa's wind power technology branch. Made has older designs operating already at Spain's major developments in the Canaries, Tarifa in southern Spain and Galicia in the northwest. The new 315 kW turbines have been on trial at an experimental farm at Tarifa for several months now.
La Muela is one of Spain's oldest experiments in wind power, initially designed, along with the Cabo Villano wind plant on Spain's Atlantic seaboard, to provide a working model for future sites all over Spain. The La Muela plant comprises 12, 30 kW turbines, one 75 kW and one 110 kW, all made by Made. The plant has operated since 1987.
Endesa's interest in further developing La Muela has not been significant, but the utility seems to have changed tack over the past few months, gearing-up to the rapidly changing and cut-throat wind power market in Spain. Experts view the move as a first step towards a concerted bid to develop the river Ebro valley which has long been touted by government energy agencies as offering one of the best areas in Spain for harvesting wind power, but which has been incomprehensibly ignored over the years.
On an official scale of potential of wind energy regions, the 400 kilometre long valley shares second place with Tarifa after Galicia's estimated 1000 MW. The Canary Islands is awarded 200 MW on the same scale, 100 MW below the valley's estimated ceiling, yet only the Ebro valley lacks a commercial site.
The sudden rush of foreign companies eager to get a slice of the wind energy cake in Spain and the recent announcement of the regional Navarre government in north central Spain to build a project with Vestas technology (Windpower Monthly July, 1994) probably prompted Endesa into negotiations with Arag—n before foreign competitors cornered this particular end of the market.