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Spain

Spain

Allocations - Catalonia map applies pressure

SPAIN: The Generalitat, the regional government of Catalonia in north-east Spain, has published a wind development siting map aimed at boosting the region's lagging wind market by 834MW across eight different zones, by putting pressure on municipalities to grant wind licences.

The Generalitat aims to allocate that capacity through several rounds of contracts and hopes to make the first call to tender before May 1.

The map (above right), which was more than a year in the making, will provide the basis for a sizeable chunk of new capacity in Catalonia post-2012. Despite being Spain's biggest economic hub, as well as a wind development pioneer in the 1990s, Catalonia is currently only the country's eighth-biggest wind market, harbouring just 3.4% of the national total. The region has 1.5GW authorised up until 2012, but of that, just 654MW is up and running.

But now the map, together with projects in the pipeline, opens the way to reaching the 3.5GW objective as marked in the regional Energy Plan 2006-2015, says Ramon Carbonell of regional wind association EolicCat.

The map spreads the 834MW thinly across the region to avoid high concentrations of turbines. Carbonell believes this, along with increased Generalitat support, will address the concerns of conservationists.

Opposition

Conservationist campaigning from "a vociferous minority", according to EolicCat, keeps vote-sensitive municipal authorities wary of issuing licences. While those licences will still be required, EolicCat believes the imposition of a tendering process from above will assuage such fears, although it remains to be seen whether the municipalities will bow to pressure.

For existing and new projects falling outside the map, the Generalitat also promises to finalise a faster, one-stop-shop processing system to reduce development timelines from application to commissioning, from six to ten years currently to just 18 months.

Meanwhile, the Generalitat has been separately addressing another of the barriers holding back Catalonia's wind sector: low grid capacity for interconnection. After blackouts in 2007 highlighted weaknesses in a region that consumes 20% of national electricity, Generalitat pressure quickly forced agreements between developers and grid operators on four dedicated power lines. Those lines will provide interconnection for a total of 1.4GW of new wind capacity.

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