Series of big name companies in action -- Romania lines up major projects

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Just 2 MW was added to Romania's installed wind power capacity in 2008 to bring the national total to 10 MW, but from those small beginnings a serious market looks to be forming. Construction work is underway on the country's first major wind farms and developers are busily lining up turbines for other projects.

Portugal's Martifer Group is now building a 50 MW wind farm in the country and Czech utility CEZ says it will begin installing turbines in April at a site in Fantanele for the first, 347.5 MW, phase of what will eventually be a 600 MW wind complex. The 600 MW project, located in Romania's Dobrogea province in the south-eastern part of the country, was acquired in the summer of 2008 from American wind developer Continental Wind Partners.

CEZ expects the first Fantanele phase of the wind farm to be operational by the end of 2009, with final commissioning completed by February 2010. General Electric will supply its 2.5 MW turbines for the project. A turbine supplier for the adjacent 252.5 MW second phase site at Cogealac has still to be chosen. CEZ says that will be done in the first half of 2009. The aim is to have the second phase of the project operational in 2010.

Spain's Iberdrola is getting close to constructing the first projects in a 1.6 GW development portfolio it acquired last year from Eolica Dobrogea, a joint venture between Swiss developer NEK and its Romanian partner Rokura. The projects are also all in the Dobrogea region, Romania's most popular for wind development, and are to be handed over to Iberdrola once they are fully permitted. NEK's Christoph Kapp says the first four projects, with a combined capacity of 100 MW, are in the final phase of permitting and construction could begin later this year.

Certificates doubled up

New players are also entering Romania's market. Among these is EDP Renováveis, the renewable division of Portugal's national utility, which in October acquired an 85% stake in two companies with a development pipeline of 736 MW in Romania. EDP says three of the projects with a combined capacity of 225 MW are closest to construction.

At the same time, others are busily securing turbines. Local developer Monsson Alma recently ordered 67, Vestas 3 MW turbines for two wind farms with a combined capacity of 201 MW in Romania's Costanta regions. SC Blue Line Impex, the Romanian wind subsidiary of Italy's Enel Green Power, has just secured 52, Gamesa 2 MW turbines for wind projects in northern Dobrogea with a combined capacity of 104 MW. Impex has an option on an additional 138 MW of the machines.

As Romania's wind market gets started, a new incentive scheme recently approved by the government is expected to help give it a more solid basis. Romanian electricity retailers are required to buy green power certificates to demonstrate they are meeting a requirement to source a growing proportion of their sales from renewable energy. In 2009, 6.2% of total electricity supplied must come from renewables, an obligation that rises to 8.3% in 2010-2012 before gradually heading towards 16.8% in 2020.

Through 2014, the law doubles the volume of green certificates to be issued to wind producers to two per MWh from one certificate previously. It also increases the price range for an individual green certificate to EUR 0.027- EUR 0.055/kWh from a previous EUR 0.024-EUR 0.042/kWh. Giving the going prices for green certificates and electricity, the remuneration for wind producers is now a healthy EUR 0.14-0.15/kWh. "It is a large step forward for developers and operators," says Kapp of NEK.

On the other hand, developers agree that settling land-lease agreements for wind farms is one of the difficulties of developing wind in Romania. Land ownership records are poor and plots may be divided into several sub-parcels. To make matters worse, some of those landowners also live overseas. As Romania's wind market finally takes off, another issue will be the need to strengthen the grid to accommodate a flood of wind projects, particularly since many will continue to be concentrated in the Dobrogea region.

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