Hungarian wind set for take off

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With just 15 turbines totalling around 15 MW installed to date, activity in Hungary's wind market has hardly been frantic, but several sizeable projects with a combined capacity of at least 200-300 MW are on the drawing board. These include the 49.5 MW Pannonia Ring development of 24 Vestas 2 MW machines, a single Vestas 0.85 MW turbine and one Enercon 0.6 MW turbine, approved as a Joint Implementation (JI) project under the Kyoto Protocol. As a JI project the emissions reduction units can be traded to another country. The project is being developed in Ostffyasszonyfa in western Transdanubia.

Hungary's renewables support mechanisms -- a fixed power purchase price of EUR 0.06-0.068/kWh, percentage obligations on power companies to buy renewables, priority access to the grid and competitive bidding for grants -- has been described by the European Commission as "just enough to stimulate investment." Under its renewable law, renewable energy has priority access to the grid for eight years, but the feed-in tariff, which is adjusted each year according to consumer price index by economy ministry decree, is guaranteed only until 2010. The payment rate this year is EUR 0.092/kWh. JI status is not a precondition for commercial viability of the wind farm "but it helps," says Pannonia Szel, the company behind Pannonia Ring.

Hungary Energy Efficiency Technologies (EETEK) is also developing two wind farms in the west of the country, each up to 50 MW due for commissioning in 2007. Austria's Öko-Energia is also planning a HUF 60 billion (EUR 240 million), 48 turbine wind farm south of Budapest. Meanwhile, Eurogreen Energy, owned by two Irish companies, SWS Group and Fleming Construction, has identified two potential sites for 150 MW in combined wind development in western Hungary. The first site, in Vezprem County, could see 38 turbines of 95 MW, while the second, in Zala County, has been earmarked for 22 turbines totalling 55 MW. "Support from the local Hungarian communities has been very strong and this, aligned with support from the Hungarian government, bodes well for future Irish prospects in Hungary," says the company.

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