In Castile-La Mancha in the heart of Spain, wind turbines dominate the landscape made famous by the knight-errant Don Quixote. In Europe, only Germany produces more wind power than Spain.
Hundreds of companies are involved across Spain’s autonomous regions. In Toledo, regional councillor José Manuel Diaz Salazar is at the centre of Spanish wind industry development:
He says: “Castile-La Mancha’s projects, with the economic and political framework represent a huge endorsement of clean energies. We believe that by 2012 this will become the first region in Europe able to supply the total electrical needs of its citizens through renewable energies.”
Yet while manufacturing, installation, maintenance and distribution companies are all banking on wind’s potential, there are obstacles, such as wildlife conservation groups.
High cost is another. For each kilowatt-hour the windfield sell, the Castilian-Manchego government kicks in a subsidy of nearly three eurocents.
Venancio Rubio, with utilities giant Iberdrola, speculates: “I can’t say if ten or fifteen years down the road it’ll be possible to operate in the wind power market. It certainly wouldn’t be possible now without the incentives.”
American colossus General Electric is not put off. It is assembling turbines in the region.
Part of the clean energy is feeding the industrialised Madrid region. And wind proponents point to the saleability of emissions credits where others are unable to meet EU targets.
But BusinessEurope’s Philippe de Buck says renewables will demand significant adjustments:
“Renewable energies are not really sustainable. According to market prices, it will either have to be subsidised at a huge cost for the nation states, or (by) a higher cost (to customers) for the electricity.”