Wind energy: many call but few are chosen

Newsroom 21/04/2009 | 15:41

In a crisis, the billion euro plus of announced wind power plant projects are likely to hike FDI in Romania in a time of need. “There is a real interest from local and foreign companies in investing in renewable energy, especially wind energy production. Big investors like the Spanish group Iberdrola and Italian company Enel have expressed their intention to develop wind farms in Romania worth EUR 1.5 billion,” said Gabriel Baleanu, an Economy Ministry expert. Among interested companies BR can also name Electrica, Eviva (subsidiary of the Portuguese group Martifer), Czech company CEZ, German energy firm E.ON and Verbund of Austria.
But it isn't enough to find a good piece of land and have the money to invest. The national energy transportation system is underdeveloped and cannot sustain such demand. “The Economy Ministry has received a significant amount of wind energy production projects. Their total capacity is of 17,680 MW of installed power, much more than the capacity of the national energy transportation system, which is approximately 4,000-5,000 MW. We are dealing with an over-subscription for wind energy production,” said economy minister Adriean Videanu.
Moreover, Transelectrica, the national energy transporter, announced at the end of February that it had had requests to connect some 4,000 MW in wind energy to the national grid, 25 percent of the total value of the projects. Transelectrica gave the green light for just 1,500 MW to be connected to the grid.
Portuguese firm Martifer is discussing with a local developer the possibility of acquiring a 35 MW wind farm project in the Babadag Dobrogea region. According to market sources, the price could reach EUR 7 million. Eviva Energy, a subsidiary of the Portuguese group, bought a 10 percent stake at the end of last year in local firm Ground Investment Corp, which is developing the EUR 675,000 project. Market specialists say that Martifer has another on-going project in Babadag with a capacity of 35 MW. Its goal is to have wind farms with a total installed capacity of 400 MW in Romania by 2012, which could cost EUR 600 million.
Meanwhile, Danish company Vestas announced that it had received an order from another Portuguese firm, EDP, for 228 MW of capacity locally. “By the end of 2008, Romania had a total of 76 MW installed capacity in wind power,” said Hans Jorn Rieks, president of Vestas Central Europe.
Three investment funds from Spain which usually invest in renewable energy are also exploring the possibility of investing in local wind farms. According to Mihai Mares, coordinating lawyer on the local market for international law house Garrigues, the three have at their disposal about EUR 200 million for this kind of project.
“There are investors specialized in the energy sector, venture capital funds focused on renewable energy projects, interested in developing wind farm projects with local partners, and in two or three years, making their exit,” said Mares. According to him, these funds plan to sign several agreements for projects of between 30 and 100 MW.
Also interested in investing in wind farm projects is the Italian firm Energia&Servizi. Its officials have contacted the local authorities from Botosani to discuss investments in the region. “Company representatives are keen to start the project this year. They said that the results of the tests carried out in this area have increased their expectations,” said David Salgau, a Botosani local authority official. According to him, the Italian firm has already decided to install the first generators in the Stefanesti area, as they could connect to the grid at the unit in Stanca-Costesti.
Such wind farm projects mean incomes of 1 percent from the energy value delivered into the grid and, perhaps more importantly, jobs for local people. The Dobrogea region still attracts most of the investors. Tomis Team announced a EUR 900 million, 600 MW wind farm project which is to be completed this summer. And in Tariverde, Costanta County, Iberdrola and Eolica Dobrogea will develop a wind power plant of 1,500 MW, which will be operational next year. Similarly, Eco Power Energy Production is developing a 80 MW wind farm near Ramnicu Sarat, a EUR 130 million investment.
Energy companies have announced hundreds of millions of euros worth of investments in wind energy projects and continue to express their interest in this direction. But the undeveloped national grid and the legislative instability are proving even more of a scarecrow than the current economic crisis.

By Dana Ciuraru

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