Endesa, Spain's top utility, has become the latest in a long line of heavyweights to signal its interest in developing wind plant off the coast of Andalucia, adding substance to rumours that the government is about to present a specific offshore regulation. The utility signed an agreement in February with engineering firm Elecnor, also a wind major, to form a joint venture called Consorcio Eólico Marino Cabo de Trafalgar (Cape Trafalgar Offshore Wind Consortium). In 2005, Elecnor's wind affiliate, Enerfin, acquired from Germany's Umweltkontor the 250 MW Cape Trafalgar project. Located off the Gibraltar Straits, it dates back to 1999 and is the most developed of offshore wind project in Spanish waters. Enerfin believes Spain's immediately viable offshore potential is 3000 MW, "mainly at various sites in the south and east," though the joint venture will "initially focus on development in the southern part of the Iberian peninsula," building on viability and engineering studies already carried out there. The area is hotly contested by developers Acciona, Gamesa and Age Eólica, with neighbouring and overlapping projects for over 2500 MW. Any solid action though "is pending government regulation," says Enerfin. Since April 2005, the government has been sitting on a draft offshore regulation, based on granting project consents through public tender. The tender conditions were widely attacked for favouring the cheapest projects rather than those seen as most technically viable. The regulation is unlikely to appear before the ongoing debacle of Spain's pay structure for purchase of wind power is resolved (page 61).
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