Seminars and Latest News

Wind power

Current situation and prospects

After some years in which Europe was the region that most developed wind power, in recent years it has lost ground to countries such as China and the USA, which are now world leaders in the onshore wind power market. Europe continues to lead technological development in the sector, and also the implementation of offshore wind farms.

In the next few years a major increase in accumulated capacity of wind power is expected in the world, leading up to 740 GW in 2021. Of particular note is onshore wind power, which, in line with current trends, is forecast to represent 95% of new capacity over the next four years.

Evolution and forecast of accumulated wind power capacity worldwide (GW)
Source: International Energy Agency (IEA), International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

Market situation and technological trends

The value chain in the wind power sector is consolidated and well-structured internationally after several decades of development. Like any value chain, it evolves and adapts to the changes that take place in production, technology and the market itself. As a result, the offshore wind energy market is undergoing major changes at present.

Among the key operations that leading sector companies keep to themselves are development, project design, the manufacture of wind turbines and the sale and distribution of the energy generated. The core operations vary depending on the commercial orientation of each company; they may either focus on project development and the generation and sale of power or on the production of wind turbines.

Onshore wind farms are part of a mature sector based on standard technology that is easily replicable by companies all over the world. Cost control is the main factor for competitiveness. The activity is concentrated in a few manufacturers and companies, with the aim of taking advantage of economies of scale, which largely benefits suppliers from lower-cost countries.

As for offshore wind farms, the technology is undergoing ongoing development, with the experimental phase being key. The leading wind turbine manufacturers work with a limited number of specialised suppliers with a view to exploring new and better energy solutions.

The technological progress that will be achieved in the short term will be linked to the use of wind turbines in very hostile environments and through the reduction of manufacturing and O&M costs. In this respect, the technological trends are oriented towards:

  • Speeding up the technological development of offshore wind energy.
  • The development of floating foundations at sea.
  • The development of electrical infrastructure, cabling and grid connection of offshore wind power.
  • An evolution towards longer blades and higher turbine towers
  • Lighter and more powerful electricity generators.
  • More reliable gearboxes that have a longer working life.

Wind power in teskadi

In Euskadi, the main activities in the field of wind power were pilot and demonstration projects carried out through the installation of commercial “Polenko” equipment (10 kW) in Karrantza in 1984, and support for new developments (“Darrieus” vertical shaft wind turbines) jointly with the Polytechnical College of Mondragon.

This initial development phase coincided in time with the first movements by utilitiles in the wind power sector. One result was the confluence of interests between the Ente Vasco de la Energía and Iberdrola Renovables in 1996, with the creation of Eólicas de Euskadi (each entity with a 50% stake). This company has made the greatest capital expenditure in wind farms in the Basque Country. In 2007 the Basque Energy Agency sold its stake in Eólicas de Euskadi to Iberdrola.

The Basque Country currently has four onshore wind farms, with a total installed capacity of 143 MW. In 2006, CESA (previously part of Acciona) promoted the construction of the mini wind farm at Punta Lucero (10 MW), the only one built without the involvement of Eólicas de Euskadi. Since then, no other wind farm has been built in Euskadi.

Euskadi has more than 200 small-power wind farms spread over its territory.

Average annual electricity production from wind power is around 350 GWh, i.e. 6-7% of Basque energy use through renewables.

 

In line with the Energy Strategy for Euskadi 2030 (3E-2030), wind power is one of the key pillars in the development of renewables in the Basque Country up to 2030. By then, it is hoped to have wind power capacity of 783 MW.

Euskadi has a strong industrial fabric in the wind power sector, with world leaders in the sector. Around the main driving activities of the manufacture of wind turbines and the development and operation of wind farms, an extensive ancillary industry has emerged manufacturing components and electrical systems, engineering, installation and construction, O&M services and remote control technologies, to name a few.

In the field of offshore wind, this ancillary industry is complemented by a shipbuilding and marine industry that has had a long history in the region. The experience of companies in sectors such as Oil&Gas makes them key players in the development of offshore wind power sector, as they can provide solutions in the design process and in the construction of wind farms and equipment, and also during the operustri and maintenance work that follows.

As part of an international market in which it operates, the Basque wind power sector is faced with a series of industrial and technological challeites that must be taken on in the years to come.

Basque Wind Power Plan 2017-2020

With the aim of achieving the targets laid out in 3E-2030, a Wind Power Plan 2017-2020 has been prepared. It includes various actions that will be deployed through specific initiatives grouped in two main themes: Energy Development and Industrial Promotion.

In the case of energy development, the actions will be focused on recovering Euskadi’s role in the expoitation of wind power, propitiating (among other measures) the implementation of a new Sectorial Territorial Plan (PTS) for this energy.

Industrial promotion is related to:

  • Strengthening the competitiveness of the Basque wind power industry, especially in its evolution towards the offshore market.
  • Drive the leadership of BiMEP and Basque industry in the development of floating foundations.
  • Speed up the adaptation of training courses to the sector’s needs.

The table below summarises the commitments of the Plan.

AREA ENERGY DEVELOPMENT INDUSTRIAL PROMOTION
ONSHORE WIND Commitment Complementary
OFFSHORE WIND Complementary Commitment