Sun, Wind, and Now Waves & Tides Fuel Growth at Iberdrola

lunapic-123489646052600.pngSpain’s Iberdrola Renovables is among a growing crop of EU companies leading the drive to develop renewable power projects and new technology. The company last week released a strong performance report for 2008 with results that highlight how new legislation at the EU, national, and local levels is working hand-in-glove with private sector companies’ efforts to reshape power markets and industry across the 27-member bloc of nations.
European companies have taken the lead when it comes to developing wind, solar and marine power projects and technology, not only within the EU, but increasingly in the US and other markets around the world.
Iberdrola is well set to take advantage of the renewable energy and clean technology incentives and support included in the US’s latest economic stimulus package. It’s already the second-largest operator of wind farms in the States. More than 40% of the projects it’s looking to develop are located here. PPM Energy, its US energy subsidiary, commissioned the 223.6-megawatt Klondike III wind farm Oregon this past March. Another five wind farms capable of generating as much as 460-megawatts of electrical power came on-line in December alone.

Iberia’s Renewable Power Industry Leader
Iberdrola invested 3,803 billion euros in renewable power projects last year, increasing installed capacity by 2,204 megawatts to 9,302 MW. Net profits more than tripled to 390.2 million euros. What’s more, the company’s producing assets are throwing off a healthy, positive cash flow – earnings before interest and taxes rose 104.5% to 709.6 million euros. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA doubled to 1,185 billion euros. With a debt ratio of 22.4%, the company is keeping its balance sheet healthy and its financing powder dry during the most uncertain and problematic financial times seen since the Great Depression.
Iberdrola can boast of the renewable power industry’s largest installed base and project pipeline. With renewable power plants now up and running in 23 countries, power generation increased 71.1% to 17,000 gigawatt-hours last year, avoiding 7.5 million metric tons worth of carbon dioxide emissions, according to company calculations.
Among those commissioned in 2008 were Andalusia’s largest wind farm, El Marquesado in Granada, Klondike III in the US and a first wave energy buoy at Santo≈àa.
Kicking off 2009, it anticipates commissioning initial capacity at the Whitelee wind farm in Scotland – expected to be the largest in Europe – a solar thermal plant in Puertollano, and a biomass plant in Corduentes (Guadalajara).
Management’s increasingly looking at the US, other EU and overseas markets as growth engines. Forty-one percent of projects in its pipeline are in the US, 24.6% are in Spain, 9.6% are in the UK with the remaining 24.7% spread out around the rest of the world.
Scottish Power Renewables
Contributing to its parent’s strong performance in 2008, Iberdrola subsidiary Scottish Power Renewables last Friday released data showing that it had doubled its installed base of renewable power, from 382 MW to 665 MW in 2008. Renewable power generation more than doubled, rising 118% to 1,227 Gwh year-to-year.
The company erected more than 100 turbines at the Whitelee wind farm project near Glasgow and expects to have another 38 up and running this summer. If a second, recently filed expansion is approved by the Scottish government what’s already the largest wind farm project in Europe will grow to include 221 turbines with a rated capacity of 614 MW, some 55,800 MW more than is required to supply all of Glasgow’s 340,000 households, according to the company.
Scottish Power Renewables also received government approval to move forward with plans to develop its first offshore wind farm, the 500-MW West of Duddon Sands project near Barrow-in-Furness.
Following close on the heels of that announcement, management announced that it had been granted an “exclusivity agreement” by the Crown Estate to assess the potential for an offshore wind farm to be built west of Argyll and the island of Tiree. The site’s potential wind power resources have been estimated to be anywhere from 500 MW to 1,800 MW, enough to run the lights, appliances and electrical equipment at 270,000 to 1,000,000 homes, according to a news report.
“Offshore wind power has massive potential, and the UK Government has already outlined ambitions to generate up to 33,000 MW of power off the UK coastline,” ScottishPower Renewables’ director Keith Anderson said. “Scotland has the best onshore wind resources in Europe, and now it is taking its first steps towards harnessing its offshore potential, which will play a major role in helping to achieve renewable energy targets.”
Scottish Power Renewables was one of nine companies selected by the Scottish Crown Estate to assess and develop 10 offshore wind power projects. It’s estimated that these could generate as much as 6 gigawatts of electrical power.
The Scottish government in October announced that it would carry out a Strategic Environment Assessment for offshore wind following the high level of interest it received from companies back in May 2008, when it first launched a tender process.
The Scottish government has also been one of the most proactive in the world when it comes to trying to spur development of wave and tidal renewable power resources. For its part, Scottish Power Renewables announced that it will carry out feasibility studies aimed at developing the largest tidal stream projects in the world at sites around Scotland.
Overall, the Scottish government has set an interim target of renewable sources accounting for 31% of total electricity demand by 2011 and 50% by 2020.

An independent journalist, researcher and writer, my work roams across the nexus where ecology, technology, political economy and sociology intersect and overlap. The lifelong quest for knowledge of the world and self -- not to mention gainful employment -- has led me near and far afield, from Europe, across the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa and back home to the Americas. LinkedIn: andrew burger Google+: Andrew B Email:

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