Spaniards cry Olé – as its great wind scam nears the end

A while back we started running a form guide looking at the odds on which country would be first to put an end to the great wind power fraud.  Front runners were Australia, the UK and Germany.

But a rank outsider – España – has just caught the bookies’ eyes.

As if Spanish wind swindlers Acciona don’t have enough trouble at the minute – being hunted down like Mexican bandits for REC fraud at Waubra – now they have to worry about their “business” model back home.

Cortes – sets the “Gold-Standard” in managing “community outrage”.

The Spaniard was well renowned in history for travelling to far-flung South America – raping and pillaging along the way – on their quest for Eldorado. But there was a whole lot less romance to the life and times of the conquistadors than their chroniclers let on.  A bit like “wind-swindling” – really!

In modern times – however – the archetypal Spaniard tends to be drawn in caricature – easily duped and the butt of cruel jokes – a little more like this:

He’s from Barcelona – you know.

Apparently it was someone of Manuel’s calibre who set up Spain’s energy policy – because the whole stinking subsidy driven mess is on the brink of collapse.

As STT has been pointing out for some time – wind power as a form of meaningful energy – is an economic nonsense.  Intermittent, unreliable and ridiculously expensivewind power simply cannot compete with energy sources which – in a 1st World economy need to be available on demand.

Wind power is just an infantile lark (albeit an insanely expensive one) and a pathetic joke as an energy source – when compared to the base-load “rolled-gold-renewable”: – HYDRO-POWER.

The costs of the wind power fraud are now catching up with the Spaniards and – with their economy on the ropes – the cries of wind swindlers for yet more taxpayer and electricity consumer financial assistance through mandated subsidies are falling on deaf ears.

Analysis – Reform pushes Spanish renewables to the edge
Wind Power Monthly
19 July 2013

SPAIN: Spain’s wind sector looks set to collapse in the face of the government’s austerity-driven electricity sector reform law imposed by decree on 14 July, according to EWEA.

Enforcement of the full reform package, which lobbyists are calling “the death knell” for Spain’s already beleaguered renewables market, is scheduled for December 2013.  This is before the detailed regulations surrounding the law are drafted.

But the law’s bare skeleton is already starkly clear.  It ends existing renewables feed-in tariffs (FITs) in mainland Spain.  Instead, support mechanisms will be through capital investment subsidies, using mechanisms yet to be established, for new and existing capacity.  The guiding principle is a 7.5% pre-tax profitability target across the lifecycle of all renewables plants — 20 years in the case of onshore wind.

“This sounds like the last lethal knife blow to the wind industry,” Stéphane Bourgeois head of regulatory affairs for the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) told Windpower Monthly. “Honestly I don’t see Spain going anywhere from there,” he adds.

On specifics he adds: “There are obvious risks that the investment premium model, being based on average figures for the whole of Spain, may reward bad investments, and penalize the most efficient ones.  This system was only used in Russia, which is not exactly the avant-garde of renewables policy.”

The base rule means operators of existing capacity can be penalised, said Heikki Willstedt, policy director at wind association AEE.  For instance, if a 15-year-old plant has already exceeded 7.5% lifecycle profitability, it will simply receive the going wholesale electricity price, without any subsidy.

Until the December approval, online wind capacity will receive the existing EUR 82/MWh FIT.  But operators will have to pay back any profits in excess of new rules, backdated to 14 July.

Over the past 15 years, “investors have been invited to place their money on renewables, with state guaranteed conditions; that promise has been broken”, said Miguel Ángel Martínez-Aroca of photovoltaic association Anpier.

AEE is analysing, with EU energy commissioner Günther Oettinger, the legality of breaking the Spanish state’s successive promises since 1999 to guarantee FITs and other production incentives throughout plant life.  The Spanish press foresees a deluge of law suits.

Profit slump

None of the associations can — or will — quote an approximate average range on wind plant profitability up to now, although one consultant confides he knows cases of developers “being okay with 8% returns, post-tax”.  Nevertheless, AEE insists the supposed 7.5% “reasonable profit” rule — as the new law calls it — could drive operators to default on loans, passing the government’s money worries on to Spain’s crumbling banks.

This is because the law explicitly sets the 7.5% profit figure before taxation, such as the existing 25% corporate tax and the 7% tax clamped on all generation in December 2012.  “Factor in taxation,” said Willstedt, “and high-risk wind investments will be getting about the same returns as low-risk state bonds [currently at 4.5%].”

Willstedt said the law removes any incentive to reach Spain’s binding EU commitment to reach 35GW wind capacity to 2020, up from 22GW today.

The reform is “hard but necessary”, according to the man behind it, industry minister José Manuel Soria.  His aim is to cut the entire electricity sector costs by EUR 4.5 billion annually in order to slash a EUR 26 billion sector deficit accrued since 1999 — caused by a mismatch between costs and electricity bill prices.  Renewables producers and utilities will each account for EUR 1.35 billion savings.  Tax payers will put forward EUR 900 million and a 3.5% electricity bill hike will account for the remaining EUR 900 million.  Without the reform, electricity bills would have to go up nearly 20%, says Soria.

Still, it has long-since been clearly demonstrated that renewables are not chiefly responsible for the electricity sector deficit, according to said Peter Sweatman, chief executive of industry analysts Climate Strategy.  With the reform shifting half the burden on renewables and undermining foreign investor security in Spain, “it all seems very backward looking and it’s hard to see how it fits into European 2030 discussions on decarbonising economies”, he said.

Bourgeois sees a ray of hope: “Because this is so bluntly wrong, I hope it will enable the European Commission to intervene.”
Wind Power Monthly

With their Spanish parents in deep, deep financial trouble STT doesn’t expect Acciona and Union Fenosa to be pestering Australian communities for much longer.  Our call is that these modern Spanish conquistadors will be sailing home very soon.

STT can’t wait to say: adios señor!

A big Spanish finish: Olé!

5 thoughts on “Spaniards cry Olé – as its great wind scam nears the end

  1. Acciona’s evil ways of cheating to grab money makes drug taking in sport look like someone drinking a can of coke. This lot forced us out of our home using infrasound as a weapon, sent us out false information from their lawyer to intimidate us, put false information in the media to defame us, given false information to the senate inquiry to vilify us. This happens because the people in governments are weaklings.
    1/ Too gutless to force them to substantiate their claims,
    2/ Too gutless to force them to comply with the laws of the planning permit,
    3/ Victorian planning department office at Ballarat conspired or were bribed, initiated at Acciona’s request, to change conditions 15 a,b,c, of the permit to suit the developer.
    [I was advised that this meeting happened by a person in the DPCD office at Ballarat, and that it included the alterations to 15 a,b,c of the planning permit. The proof is in the Noise compliance Monitoring plan and the Operational Environmental Management Plan stage 2 of the Waubra Windfarm and these plans are in breach of planning permit condition 17 of the Waubra wind farm].

    Noel Dean

  2. And Acciona is only one of the companies involved in Wind Energy to be feeling the ‘boot’ – what about companies such as Vesta and Siemans? The fraud is coming to an end and the sooner the better. Acciona should be forced to compensate all those people they have caused grief to – they should pay up before they shut up.

  3. The wind industry can cry and moan all they want. The money taps are being turned off, and we don’t care if you threaten us with global warming, the monster under the bed, or cooties. You will not be allowed to steal any more money from us!

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