INTERVIEW - Spanish Wind Turbine Maker Gamesa To Set Foot in Bulgaria by Early 2010, Eyes Projects in SEE
SOFIA (Bulgaria), April 9 (SeeNews) – Spanish wind turbine producer Gamesa plans to set foot in Bulgaria by the end of 2009 or in early 2010 and take part in wind farm projects across Southeast Europe, aiming to benefit from the region’s developing renewable energy market, a company official said.
Gamesa has already signed deals to manufacture turbines for a planned 60-megawatt wind farm in Bulgaria. Currently it is looking for a Bulgarian partner to set up a company that will build the turbines and provide for their maintenance once they are put in place, Gamesa sales engineer David Guiu told SeeNews on the sidelines of the 5th International Congress and Exhibition on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Sources for Southeast Europe held in Sofia earlier this week.
“For Bulgaria it is our first project. We are very excited to come here because of the potential of Bulgaria and because we believe Bulgaria has the conditions for us to establish here a company and to grow with the country,” Guiu said.
Guiu declined to disclose details about the investor in the park, which would cost roughly 100 million euro ($132.9 million), and on the Bulgarian partner with which Gamesa is going to set up a Bulgarian-based company, saying talks were confidential.
Gamesa sets up local units in each country of operations, as it prefers to train locals who will operate and maintain its wind turbines, Guiu said.
In the medium term the company would aim to expand in Bulgaria, which should have 2,000 MW of wind farms in place by 2020. Currently, the Balkan country has just 159 MW of wind turbines.
“We are talking about some hundreds of megawatts that are in our interest to have here, in Bulgaria, in the next two or three years,” he said.
The Spanish company will also aim to take part in renewable energy projects in other countries of Southeast Europe where this sector is underdeveloped.
Gamesa said two months ago it has won a tender to supply and install 52 wind turbine generators with a combined capacity of 104 MW for Romanian company Blue Line Impex, a unit of Italy’s Enel. The deal envisages the supply, installation, start-up, operation and a two-year maintenance of the wind turbines. It includes an option for the supply of an additional 69 wind turbines.
“We believe that Romania has big potential but the problem is that the [local] currency exchange rate that we have right now […] makes projects not as profitable as they were one year ago,” Guiu said.
The Romanian leu has lost more than one-fifth of its value against the euro since September on fears of economic slowdown but has started to gain ground recently on the back of a 20 billion euro IMF-led loan package that Romania signed at the end of last month.
“So things depend on the utilities and the price of electricity, and if they increase the price of electricity the projects in Romania will be more profitable or profitable enough at least,” he added.
Gamesa would also have interest in wind farm projects in Bosnia and Croatia but the development of this sector in those countries is still at the very beginning.
“The near future [for us] is Bulgaria and Romania but we have to keep an eye on the other countries,” Guiu said.
Gamesa (www.gamesa.com), set up in 1976, has around 30 production units located in Spain, China and the United States with an international workforce of some 7,200 employees. Its sales rose 27% to 3.551 billion euro last year and its net profit expanded 45% to 320 million euro. It sold 3,684 MW of wind turbines, 12% up from 2007.