Stealing the limelight at Zaragoza exposition

Wind company players from around the world ready to expand

their involvement in the dynamic Spanish market or enter the fray

travelled to Zaragoza for the PowerExpo 2000 event at which wind was a factor hard to ignore

Visitors who entered Pavilion 3 on arrival at Spain's PowerExpo 2000 in Zaragoza could be forgiven for presuming that they were at a wind power trade fair. More than ten wind turbines dominated the hall, together with numerous stands dedicated to technical wind industry services. All in all, wind made an energetic appearance at the international power event in September.

"The Expo has clearly hit home the extent to which the dynamism of the Spanish wind market is being appreciated abroad," said Sergio Castedo of Enron Wind's Spanish division, which exhibited both a 1.5 MW and 750 kW turbine. He also said he was surprised by the number of new, independent developers visiting the stands.

A total of 282 companies were present at the event, 18% up on PowerExpo I in 1998, and the turnstiles clocked more than 4500 visitors, according to co-organisers InfoPower, Spain's principle energy sector magazine. "PowerExpo I occupied about half the space, with only a small section for wind. Now we see two halls for renewables and cogeneration, with only a third of the space taken up by cogeneration and most of the rest by wind," said Knud Rehfeldt, director of the Spanish branch of Germany's Deutsches Windenergie Institut (DEWI).

The presence of non-Spanish wind companies was glaring, with turbine displays from Danish NEG Micon and German/Danish Nordex. New blood came from German Jacobs Energie, which has recently set up office in La Coruña, Galicia, and is looking for opportunities for its 600 kW-1.5 MW range of turbines. German DeWind, so far with no installed capacity in Spain, also perceived potential for its 3.5 MW machine, which it claims will cut in at wind speeds of 3 m/s.

Spanish wind turbine manufacturers Gamesa and Bazán Bonus presented their own versions of Danish hardware from Vestas and Bonus, respectively. Purely Spanish technology was offered by MADE -- utility Endesa's turbine manufacturer -- and Mondragón Group affiliate Ecotècnia. "The expo offered an unrivalled opportunity for comparing our technology with that of our direct competition," said Antonio Martínez of Ecotècnia, whose stand displayed its new Argos on-line monitoring equipment connected to operating wind plant.

Still immature

The Spanish wind industry was now in a state of "collective euphoria" but needs "perhaps two or three years to properly mature," noted one industry member. He also said that "the regional administrations, as always, are lagging behind the market," referring to the delays and bureaucratic rigidity in processing development applications.

Nevertheless, an indication of increased maturity came inside the conference halls. While presenters at the previous PowerExpo focussed on the technical and economic viability of wind power, this year's event had an overriding tone of corporate sales pitch. In the most significant technical theme, all manufacturers expect to begin selling megawatt technology in 2001. They are looking to the new regional wind plans in Castille and León, Castilla la Mancha and Valencia, as well as ongoing developments in Galicia and Aragón, as potential outlets (Windpower Monthly, July 2000). Despite Spain's limited offshore potential, tired eyes toward the end of the presentations opened wide with a projection of DeWind's 5 MW turbine, designed specifically for offshore developments.

Bringing things somewhat back to earth, MADE's Antonio Lara insisted that smaller wind turbines still had strong potential. As well as its new 800 kW and 1.3 MW technology, MADE will continue with its 330 kW turbines, especially for exports to countries with complicated terrain and without high-tech crane equipment.

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