Developer granted exclusive rights

Development of wind power could be entering a new era in Spain with the initial approval granted for a huge and innovative 120 MW wind farm in the Spanish province of Tarragona. The area, at Coll de Moro, has not been previously considered to have strong enough winds to make exploitation of them viable.

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Preliminary approval has been granted for a huge and innovative 120 MW wind farm at Coll de Moro in the Spanish province of Tarragona, first announced in March 1999 by Eolic Partners. But although the company is now in possession of its long awaited Regimen Especial de Producci—n Energética (REPE), both Eolic Partners and the regional authorities remain tight lipped on the approval. Such silence is symptomatic of the caution prevailing on wind development throughout the region (story above).

The preliminary REPE stage means the project's initial proposal may now enter into the "special regime for the production of energy." This reserves exclusive generation rights to the developer for the site and puts a ceiling on installed capacity. Eolic Partners will not be allowed to have more than 120 MW of installed capacity in Coll de Moro, though the number of turbines may vary from its initial proposal of 80, 1.5 MW units. Turbines up to 2 MW or even larger are now being considered.

Eolic Partners was founded in 1996 with capital from German wind developer Ostwind Betrieb, now one of the seven members of Wind 7 ag (Windpower Monthly, December 1999) and German Aufwind-project, a wind developer with offices in Betterfeld and Kassel. The aim of the deal was to transfer "German wind experience to Spain," explains Eolic Partners' Ulrich Lenz. The company has already invested ESP 80 million (i480,810) in the Coll de Moro project, according to manager Xavier Amargant. Overall investment, if the development gets the final go-ahead, is expected to be in the order of ESP 25,000 million (i150.3 million).

The development's key innovative element is that it aims to exploit the lower yet steadier winds of the Spanish plains. Jurgen Wendling, chairman of the board, explains that, "Due to the Spanish disadvantage as far as turbine technology is concerned many wind plant have been installed on high ground in order for them to be viable. This has not always been in the best interests of the environment." Eolic Partners' intends to apply northern European state-of-the-art technology to the Coll de Moro plains in order to optimise the gentler winds, it says. Eolic Partners aims to install turbines with towers of between 85 and 100 metres where it says winds are in excess of 6 m/s.

Xavier Amargant points out that wind sites on high land often belong to local or regional authorities because they are not suitable for farming or other commercial activities. Sites lower down are usually privately owned, as is the case on the entire area of the Coll de Moro development. Individual landowners have much to gain in granting rights of wind turbine installation and access. The mayor of Batea, Joaquin Paladella, who confirms the granting of the REPE, says: "At first sight the scheme looks very good for the area." He believes this is the opinion of other municipalities. "But we cannot really be at all sure until we have the definitive project on the table in front of us."

Exclusive rights

The next stage is Informaci—n Pœblica or "public provision." This involves the public announcement of the plans followed by the formal reception of comments and objections. It also includes an environmental impact study, imposes requirements on the developer and defines the project's definitive details. It is at this stage that most projects get held up, not only in Catalonia but nationwide. Once these obstacles are cleared, construction can start.

Given the frustratingly slow progress in Catalonia since the region's wind power policy, or strategic plan, was established, there is no reason to expect Coll de Moro will be rushed through. The company is confident, however, that the weight of its arguments will snowball having already gained the whole-hearted support of one of Tarragona's most influential environmental pressure groups, GEPEC (previous story).

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