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Wind in the sails of Monsson Alma

31 Mar 2009 - Stiri, Stiri - Consultanta

As the developer of the largest fully permitted onshore wind park in Europe, Romanian energy group Monsson Alma has already established itself as one the early leaders on the domestic wind power market. With the recent announcement of new wind turbine orders from DenmarkÔÇÖs Vestas and GE Energy, the company is showing no signs of slowing down in 2009. The company currently boasts a portfolio of wind power projects totalling 1,900 MW in advanced stages of development (all to be completed within the next three to four years) including the 600-MW wind farm developed in conjunction with CWP Wind Power in the Dobrogea region of Romania and sold to Czech power company CEZ in late 2008.

Two of these projects, which are also located in Dobrogea on the Black Sea Coast, and are being developed by its subsidiaries S.C. Ewind and S.C. Wind Power Park, will have a combined installed capacity of about 200 MW. Monsson Alma ordered 67 3-MW wind turbines from Vestas Wind Systems in January 2009, which are expected to be delivered to the two wind parks later in 2009 and 2010 (EiEE 157/91). Monsson Alma also confirmed an order this March for 118 GE 2.5-MW wind turbines to be used in various other projects, also to be delivered in 2010. ÔÇťFrom the providerÔÇÖs point of view and from the turbine manufacturerÔÇÖs point of view, Romania is actually one of the biggest clients in Europe right now,ÔÇŁ Sebastian Enache, director of Monsson AlmaÔÇÖs subsidiary Wind Power Energy, told Platts, March 20. ÔÇťYou have probably more than 500 German companies that work here in the consultancy business. In terms of turbine manufacturers, I think after Germany some of their biggest sales in the EU have been in Romania in the past few years.ÔÇŁ Interest is also evident in the tens of thousands of megawatts in new wind power projects that have been announced by a myriad of local and international companies. To date, more than 1,500 MW in new wind power capacity has been approved by RomaniaÔÇÖs grid operator, Transelectrica. The biggest problem appears rather to distinguish the legitimate developers capable of seeing through the construction of wind farms from speculators wishing to turn a profit on desirable land and permits without the will and/or resources to develop the projects themselves.

Regardless of which companies end up moving forward with viable projects, Monsson Alma expects the high interest to continue to push wind power development at a rapid pace. ÔÇťIn five years we will be fully developed as a country in terms of onshore wind power with a maximum of 8,000 MW installed capacity,ÔÇŁ Enache said. ÔÇťThis is the first stage of development, which will see all of the good wind generating areas in the country developed. Then there will be a secondary phase of developing in less favourable areas with wind speeds of less than seven metres per second, as well as more expensive offshore projects.ÔÇŁ

Established in 1997 with its headquarters in Constanta on the Black Sea near ground zero for wind power generation, Monsson Alma is split into two separate divisions: the industrial division responsible for managing and developing the construction and operation of wind farms, and the residential division, Solaria, dealing with renewable technology installation for residential applications including solar heating, heating pumps, photovoltaic and small wind energy generators. While most of Monsson AlmaÔÇÖs solar production is limited to households, the company has recently started developing larger-scale solar wind farms. The first of these is a 1-MW photovoltaic project in Dobrogea which is currently in the final stages of obtaining permits. Monsson Alma also derives roughly half of its business from post-development services such as wind forecasting and earthquake monitoring and alarm systems provided by subsidiary Wind Power Energy (WPE). After more than three years of development and data monitoring, WPE will be the first company in Romania to offer wind forecasting services to its clients as well as other third party wind farm operators.

With a network of 18 data collecting masts located in the primary wind development regions of Dobrogea, Banat and Moldavia, the company will provide clients with 7-hour, 24-hour, 48-hour and 72-hour forecasts starting in June 2009. This data can then be used by wind farm operators to sell electricity on RomaniaÔÇÖs Day Ahead Market, fetching prices 30% higher than selling it directly to the grid, according to Enache. At the same time, accurate forecasting data will also help ease balancing pressure on TranselectricaÔÇÖs overworked grid, particularly in the Dobrogea region, which will host the majority of the countryÔÇÖs wind capacity as well as the Cernavoda nuclear power plant. WPE will also offer earthquake monitoring and alarm systems, which utilize a 30-second shut-off feature to power down wind turbines in order to minimize possible damage during an earthquake. Other services include measurements for mast erections, wind park noise monitoring, site evaluations, monitoring equipment service and maintenance, measurements network control room management, wind SCADA operation service, radio communication for power grid connections and environmental assessments permitting. The full range of services will be centralized in regional dispatch centers in Moldavia and Banat, along with the primary dispatch centre at Constanta in Dobrogea when completed in August 2009 at a total cost of ÔéČ1.5 million.

Joe Wilcox

ANALYSIS ROMANIA

ENERGY IN EAST EUROPE / ISSUE 161 / MARCH 27, 2009




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