Offshore capacity will play an increasingly important role in Spain’s future wind energy production. In March 2009 the Spanish government approved an offshore wind map that establishes a grading system for suitable areas as well as exclusion zones. The government also published a resolution in April 2009 that gives legal status to the map, meaning that project must be in suitable areas to gain approval.
Companies will now be able to present projects for wind farms of more than 50 megawatts (MW) in capacity in specific areas. Once the government receives a proposal, it will open these areas up for tender, with awards being made to those companies that offer to pay the highest fee above the standard tender fee. The winning companies will be given a ‘zone reservation’ for two years, to put together a definitive project, and will then apply for the necessary administrative and environmental permits.
The Spanish Wind Energy Association anticipates projects will take around six years from initial proposal to installation, meaning that Spain’s first offshore wind farms could be installed by 2015. The association says the industry aims to have 4,000 MW of offshore capacity installed by 2020.
It is estimated that the country has a total offshore potential of 1.35 GW at a depth of < 30 metres and within 30 metres offshore; 11.31 GW at a depth of up to 50 metres and within 40 metres offshore; and 25.52 GW at a depth of up to 100 metres and more than 40 metres offshore. Most potential capacity is off Valencia, Galicia and Andalucía. However, deep waters around the coast prevent the development of projects using current technologies. For example, 324 MW of potential offshore sites have been located off Lanzarote-Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands but at a depth of more than 50
Several companies have already prepared offshore projects. Acciona has a project for a 983 MW facility 10km off the southwest coast between Conil and Barbate, and a 1 GW farm off Cadiz. Market leader Iberdrola Renovables has proposed six projects with a total capacity of 3,000MW in Cádiz, Castellón and Huelva. Smaller scale developer Ceowind is planning 400 MW of offshore capacity off Cadiz, Huelva and Castellon and MTorres is developing an offshore wind turbine coupled to a de-salination plant.