Solidation tactics adopted in Valencia -- Bids from just 17 consortia

Serious wind power development in Spain's east coast region of Valencia moved a step closer last month with the submission of bids to build 1700 MW -- the amount the regional government has decided it will permit. But only 17 consortia presented their business plans in time to beat the bidding deadline, indicating a new consolidation in the Spanish wind power development business.

The plans, which secure preferential rights for developers to research and develop sites provided they guarantee jobs and promise to invest in the region, involve a number of local businesses ranging from banks to ceramics companies. Although secrecy still shrouds the companies behind many of the 17 consortia names, the identities of some are beginning to emerge.

Utility Iberdrola, which controls Valencia's distribution network, made a surprise move by placing only one direct bid under the name Energías Renovables del Mediterraneo (ERM), uniting some of the utility's wind developing affiliates in the region. This was Iberdrola's answer to a clause in the Valencia wind regulation bill forbidding any one company to hold more that 25% in more than one wind plan. While some unification had been expected, few had guessed it would be extended to include Spain's largest wind developer, Energía Hidroeléctrica de Navarra (EHN), owned 37% by Iberdrola. Last year EHN had announced its own ESP 140 billion (EUR 841.4 million) business plan for the region.

The question now is whether EHN's autonomy, exercised from its Navarra offices, is under threat from Iberdrola. So far EHN's interests in Valencia have been managed by Energías Eólicas Europeas, a joint venture with Iberdrola. Insiders are pondering whether the Iberdrola united front is just a way of presenting a stronger business plan, or whether the huge utility is determined to play a more active role. It has already announced a massive renewables investment plan (page 17).

Meantime, Spain's other wind giant, Gamesa, has been a little more candid about its Valencia links. The group, which controls Spain's largest turbine manufacturer, Gamesa Eólica, as well as a development division, Gamesa Energía, is operating in Valencia with its partners under the name Urgeban. Gamesa Energía and Urbaenergía, the renewables development arm of construction giant Dragados, each hold 40% of Urgeban. The remainder is owned by the bank, Bancaja. The EUR 1200 billion Urgeban plan is for 40 wind plant consisting of 2720 turbines.

German connection

Another company to have revealed some of its secrets is Germany's Nevag affiliate, Sistemas de Energías Regenerativas SA (SERSA), which heads part of a four member group called Nuevas Energías Valencianas SA (NEVSA). The other three members are fellow Germans Umweltkontor Renewable Energy SA, Valencian steel company Industrias Ochoa and a large co-operative called Grupo Empresarial Cooperativa. NEVSA's plan is tied up with an agreement between Industrias Ochoa and German turbine manufacturer Frisia to produce at least 50, 1 MW turbines in Valencia.

Sinae -- the renewables arm of Spain's fourth utility -- has presented its Valencia plan together with a group of regional companies forming Mare Nostrum, which plans to invest ESP 80 billion (EUR 492.8 million) in 18 plant totalling 492 MW. Other plans presented come from Aciloe and Eólica de Levante (Windpower Monthly, September 2001), though neither has revealed details.

Japanese too

Utility Unión Fenosa surprised all by presenting its plan alone, despite previously saying it would join up with two regional concerns, ACS constructors and Crevillente power co-operative. Rumours abound that Unión Fenosa's bid now rests on a commitment to use towers from regional shipbuilders Manises Diesel. Meanwhile, Spain's largest utility, Endesa, has coupled with regional constructors Sedesa.

For many, the plan from Galician developer Eurovento -- a joint venture between Terranova Energy and Japan's Tomen Power Corp -- came out of the blue. In Valencia, the company is developing with regional businesses under the name Eurovento Proyectos Civiles y Tecnologicos. So far Eurovento has only used technology from Bazán Bonus, which started life as a shipyard before manufacturing Bonus turbines from Denmark. Whether it plans to use Bonus technology in Valencia is unclear.

Eólica de Navarra, with 120 MW on-line in Navarra region -- all using Ecotècnia machines -- has also presented a plan, though few details are forthcoming. Initially, the developer's main backer, engineering firm Elecnor, aimed to present its plan with 25% backing from the region's water corporation, Aguas de Valencia. The corporation withdrew, however, perceiving that its profits would rely entirely on wind power subsidies.

The Generalitat has promised to publish a shortlist of contenders within the next few weeks. By the new year, all developer cards should be placed cleanly on the table.