Spain tops wind poll

Spanish utility Iberdrola has surpassed US company FPL Energy as the largest wind farm owner in the world.

Spanish utility Iberdrola has surpassed US company FPL Energy as the largest wind farm owner in the world, after record expansion of wind plant ownership to nearly 2,950 MW in 2004, according to rankings from Emerging Energy Research (EER), a Cambridge-Massachusetts based research and advisory company.

After adding 905 MW of new wind farms in 2004, Iberdrola led FPL Energy by 209 MW at the end of 2004, according to EER’s annual Wind Plant Ownership Rankings. EER ranks the global top 20 wind farm owners, on a net-ownership basis, which together account for approximately one-third of wind power capacity worldwide. Enersis of Portugal made the list for the first time, while Edison Italia dropped out of the top 20 in 2004.

With Iberdrola leading the way, Spanish companies account for three out of the top five wind plant owners worldwide, five out of the top 10, and seven out of the top 20, according to EER’s rankings.

“The impressive record of Spain‘s wind companies reflects not only the strong demand for wind power but also a Spanish market model supporting utility and IPP ownership,” says Keith Hays, EER’s European Research Director. Two other Spanish companies join Iberdrola in the top five, including EHN, owned by Spanish construction company Acciona, and Endesa, Spain‘s largest utility.

By contrast, FPL Energy, a leading US independent power producer with substantial wind power holdings, halted wind farm construction due to regulatory uncertainty in the US market, according to EER’s US Research Director Godfrey Chua. “Without the Production Tax Credit (PTC), an important wind energy incentive that was allowed to expire at year end 2003, the US market was not a conducive environment in which to build wind farms,” says Chua.

Iberdrola and FPL Energy will continue to vie for the top ranking in 2005 as both are expected to add significantly to their wind farm portfolios. After a quiet 2004, FPL Energy is expected to put into service a near-record 750 MW of wind power, according to Chua. With the Spanish wind market expected to remain strong, Iberdrola is seeking to replicate its strong 2004 performance in 2005 by defending its domestic market share and expanding its wind portfolio in Greece and other Southern European countries. Both companies are expected to extend their lead over third place, according to EER estimates.

Spanish companies will continue to be the most widely represented in the top 20 through 2005, says Hays, as many consolidate their positions. A number of US utilities and IPPs are expected to move up in the global rankings in 2005 as over 2,000 MW are expected to be added this year, according to EER. Some such as MidAmerican Energy are expected to appear in the top 20 for the first time once major projects are completed.