Spain approves the installation of offshore wind parks
The Government of Spain approved on August 1st legislation that will allow offshore wind parks to be built off its coast. It is predicted that the offshore wind parks will generate between 2,000 and 3,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity by 2020.
“Spain is a peninsula with sea on three sides and so is one of the best places in the world for building wind farms at sea,” Carlos Montana from the Spanish Ministry of Industry told RenewableEnergyAccess.com, one of the sources of the story.
Experimental offshore wind farm projects have already been built on the sea-bed in sites around Cadiz, Huelva, Castellon and in the Ebro Delta. While more expensive than land-based wind farms, offshore wind parks can take advantage of stronger, steadier coastal breezes. On the other hand, they suffer from logistical problems and corrosion.
According to the Spanish diary El Pais, currently there are no wind turbines specifically adapted to a marine environment. An ideal turbine for an offshore wind farm would be in the 5MW range, and the infrastructures to install such monsters is not yet in place.
Spain has some 4,000 kilometres (2,500 miles) of coastline which draw millions of sunseekers each year, helping to make it the world’s second most visited nation after France. Concerns about the impact of off shore wind parks on Spain‘s tourist industry have been one reason why, until now, the construction of wind turbines has been restricted to the country’s mainland.
To allay these concerns the government said offshore wind farm projects will need clearance from the environment ministry.
The government will also identify through a study the best places where the wind parks, required to have a minimum size of at least 50 megawatts, can be set up. Interested firms will then be allowed to reserve the area, provided they demonstrate that the wind turbines do damage the environment. The study is due to be completed by July 1st, 2008. Some companies like Acciona Energy or Endesa/Elecnor already have advanced plans for the area around Cape Trafalgar (the site of the famous naval battle) in the Atlantic ocean off the coast of Cadiz.
The Netherlands opened its first major offshore wind farm earlier this year and several similar projects are in the works for Britain, Germany and the United States. The UK is the country that has advanced the furthest in this field, with 877 MW installed last year.