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German development bank Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) has added Egypt to its international engagement in wind energy development. The bank has been invited by the Egyptian New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) to advise on how best to gain German development aid for developing wind projects in Egypt. KfW is also progressing slowly but surely with wind projects in Morocco and China and is looking at wind development in Bolivia, too.

The bank will shortly send a consultant to Hurgada in Egypt to investigate potential for a project to be installed in 1998. In the meantime, energy consultancy Decon of Bad Homburg is due to report back to KfW with a recommendation for five coastal locations for wind farms in China, between Peking and the island of Hainan. In May KfW will send its own delegates to make the final choice of two or three sites for a total of 10-12 MW of wind power.

A KfW development project in Morocco is a little further advanced. The bank expects to issue a consultancy tender this month for the final planning, choice of technology and construction supervision for a wind station of around 3 MW at El Koudia Blanco in Tetuan province. The preliminary study for this project was carried out by Tandem of Bremen and commissioned by the German Agency for Technical Co-operation (GTZ) in Eschborn, a sister organisation of the KfW. The wind station is expected to cost around DEM 10.5 million, of which KfW will provide DEM 8.5 million.

Contrary to reports, this KfW project is not linked with the wider aims of the local Moroccan utility, ONE, to rapidly expand the use of wind power to 50 MW and over, in particular by means of Build Operate Transfer (BOT) projects. Under this type of contract, a company would build and operate a wind farm, selling the electricity to ONE at a guaranteed price for a contract period of ten to 15 years, after which the station would be made over to the utility for a prearranged price.

Ten Megawatt for Bolivia

Further into the future, KfW is considering supporting a wind project near Santa Cruz, the second largest city in Bolivia with one million citizens and a fast expanding economy. "The area around Santa Cruz is one of the windiest regions in the South American interior," says Pablo Rosenthal-Brendel of the Bolivian renewable energies programme, Programa para la Difusion de Energias Renovables (PROPER). PROPER is financed by GTZ with the aim of promoting renewable energies through training technicians and project advisors, informing the rural population, advising turbine manufacturers and importers of energy systems and last, but not least, supporting energy projects in rural areas.

Wind measurements at the Santa Cruz airport, carried out by Tandem for GTZ, reveal an average annual wind speed of 5.5 m/s at a height of seven metres, indicating that 7 m/s can be expected at 30 metres. A good site has been identified at La Belgica with a wind energy potential of 20 MW and two 150 kW turbines are to be installed at Comarapa. These will be connected to an isolated grid operated by the local utility, Co-operative Rural de Electrificacion (CRE). At the moment electricity for this grid is generated by a 1.5 MW gas power station which, however, has just about reached the limits of its power output, explains Rosenthal-Brendel. Wind speeds at Comarapa average 6.6 m/s at a height of ten metres.

Although the original KfW plan appears to have been for a 1.5 MW demonstration wind station, PROPER now defines the first phase of the wind project as a 10 MW wind station at La Belgica plus the 300 kW at Comarapa. The two together will cost around $25 million, of which the project operator, CRE, will pay a share. Contact has been made with American, Dutch and German finance institutions to raise the remainder of the sum. CRE has not yet decided whether to put out an open tender for a wind turbine supplier or whether to simply place a contract directly with a single manufacturer.

In the meantime, CRE is waiting for a change in the law to come into effect -- allowing it to be an electricity generator as well as distributor -- before being able to proceed with the project. "CRE is one of the most dynamic companies in Bolivia's energy sector and with 120,000 members one of the biggest co-operatives in the world, " says Fritz Kölling, also from PROPER. The new electricity law allows distributors to generate up to 15% of their electricity sales as long as they use renewable energy sources. The law also allows private renewables operators to feed into the grid.

Rosenthal-Brendel and Kölling explain the importance of their plans: "The Santa Cruz project will demonstrate the potential for using Bolivia's own renewables resources. As wind monitoring is still very sparse, an important next step is to carry out widespread monitoring both in the low lands and the windy highlands -- the Altiplano." Wind energy could also find many uses feeding into isolated grid systems, they say, at the same time pointing out that traditional wind pumps are already widely used, in particular by the Mennonites in the low lands.

The KfW, however, seems to be getting cold feed about the scheme. It now says it doubts whether a project in the relatively wealthy Santa Cruz region could qualify for support from a development bank. The GTZ, on the other hand, believes the project merits development help alone on the grounds of its environmental benefit and notes the KfW has supported the construction of gas power stations in Bolivia. In any case no decision can be made unless and until the Bolivian planning ministry makes a formal application to Bonn for aid specifically for the wind project.

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