Valencia calls a halt under avalanche

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The regional government of Valencia has temporarily closed its eyes to the avalanche of wind power development applications that have piled up in the past two years. Instead of processing applications, the departments of industry, environment and public works, amongst others, will now concentrate on completing the Valencian wind power plan, the Plan E—lico Valenciano. The government executive, the Generalitat, promises the plan will receive final approval by January 2001 at the latest. Until that time no new wind projects will be authorised in the region.

Although coming as a short term disappointment for developers, the decision is a clear indication of a solid commitment to wind by the Generalitat. Existing government policy on wind development is contained in its outdated and non-committal Plan de Energias Renovables for the region. This plan talks about reducing an estimated 800 MW by 2012 to just 240-265 MW because of the time needed for administration and wind measurements. This is far short of the 1500-2000 MW being discussed at the end of 1999.

Renewed plan

The Plan E—lico Valenciano will be further developed both within the confines of a regional Plan de Acci—n Territorial and as a part of a renewed plan for renewable energies as a whole. According to the Generalitat, the main objective is to boost the region's energy production, autonomy and permitting capacity while protecting the environment and encouraging investment and employment in the region.

The Generalitat has already made preliminary studies, which, together with the territorial action plan, have estimated there to be 50 sites eligible for wind development, corresponding to approximately 10% of the region's surface area. This limit has been dictated largely by avian considerations and other "overwhelming environmental factors." The vast majority of the 50 sites fall within the municipalities of Valle de Ayora, l'Alcole, Los Serranos, Els Ports and Requena-Utlel.

The regional head of industry, Fernando Castello, estimates that the private sector will invest approximately ESP 200,000 million (EUR 1202 million) in developing wind plant and that this will create between 11 and 16 thousand jobs directly, of which over a thousand will be permanent. He points out some of the spin-offs for the region, such as the creation of new infrastructures and improved electricity distribution. Furthermore, he envisages broad sweeping industrial and technological development in Valencia as equipment and components for the wind plant are "expected to be manufactured by local industries."

Castello's comments were made at the inauguration of the 2.8 MW (4 x 700 kW) Buñol wind farm, the only development to have been authorised in the region (Windpower Monthly, September 1999). Work is due to begin on extending the plant in the spring with between 32 and 40 additional 700 kW turbines. As an indication of the economic benefits mentioned by Castello, Buñol Town Hall will be receiving ESP 713 million (EUR 4.3 million) from the developer, Aciloe, over the next 49 years for use of municipal land.

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