Wind power potential in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Turkey
Wind energy have proven to be attractive for several reasons – wind is plentifully available, it is cheap and virtually inexhaustible source of energy, and does not cause environmental damage or climatic anomalies. Operational costs for generation of energy, or rather the absence of fuel supply costs, does make wind an especially attractive energy source in the eyes of investors.
In 2009, 39% of all new electricity generating capacity built in the European Union was wind power, ahead of coal, gas and nuclear. The sector saw investments of about 13 billion Euro in the EU. Annual installations of wind power have increased steadily with an annual average growth of 23%. A total of 74,767 MW is now installed in the EU, providing 4.8% of electricity demand.
One of the fastest-growing European wind energy markets is Southeast European region. The favourable natural conditions, the European Union objective of getting 20 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2020 and the strong interest among foreign investors in exploiting wind power are the main factors in expansion of wind power market in Balkan countries. The following review presents the wind power potential in four of them - Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Turkey.
Romania has a strong potential for wind power
Romania is set to significantly expand its wind energy capacity over the coming years. Improving on its position as one of the European countries with the lowest amount of wind energy capacity installed.
Currently the country has 14 MW of installed capacity, but the European Wind Energy Association, in its recently published Pure Power report, predicts this will rise to 3,500 MW, all of that onshore wind power. The Dobrogea region which borders the Black Sea, the Moldova Hills and other hilly or mountainous plateaux have significant wind resources which could be used to power future carbon-free electricity generation.
Wind potential in Romania is fit for wind energy applications on the Black Sea coast, the off-shore and the mountainous area. In the mountains, the compromise to find suitable access and grid connections, defines the most interesting area at 900 to 1200 m altitude. Good sites for wind farms offer mean wind speeds of more than 6.5 /m/s, at WT hub heights above ground level. Talking about wind potential, it should be signaled that the investors and developers are measuring in site wind data (e.g. more than 70 masts in Dobrogea area).
A national law which will contain support measures for wind energy is still passing through the political process, but it should be finalised in the first half of 2010.
Despite the low level of wind penetration today, Romania is well on course to meet its renewable energy target – a 24% share of renewables in the overall energy mix by 2020. Wind power is the second most important renewable in the country, following large hydro.
Grid problems slow adoption of wind energy in Romania
Romania is not meeting its vast potential to harness energy from wind, in part because of administrative and other hurdles to connect to the electric grid. That message came from the European Wind Energy Association, which said Romania had 10 megawatts of installed capacity from wind at the end of 2008—less than 1 percent of its total 19 gigawatts of installed capacity from all sources. That adoption rate is out of line with the rest of the European Union, which had 65 GW of installed wind capacity at the end of 2008, the EWEA says. Last year, wind held the largest share of new energy sources, contributing 36 percent of all new electricity generating capacity. The EWEA called for an upgrade to the electric grid in order for Romania to meet its EU Directive to increase the amount of renewables in its energy mix from 17.8 percent at the end of 2005 to 24 percent in 2020. If Romania passes the appropriate legislation, the wind market is ready to pounce. Last year, renewable power developer Continental Wind Partners announced a 1.1 billion Euro deal to sell 600 MW of wind turbines to European utility CEZ Group for the adjacent Fantanele and Cogealac wind farms in southeast Romania. The wind farm is expected to contribute almost 30 percent of the renewable energy in Romania. The wind farm is under construction. In May, CEZ was in talks to secure a 200 million Euro loan from the European Investment Bank for the project.
Wind picks up in Bulgaria and Romania
The natural conditions in Romania and Bulgaria make these countries some of the best placed in Europe for producing wind energy. Interest in investing in wind power is high in both countries, but legislative ambiguity and the limited capacity of national electricity grids are delaying the building of new wind parks.
Bulgaria could have a wind power production capacity of 3,400 MW in a few years, according to the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Unlike Romania, Bulgaria is at the moment highly dependent on energy imports, taking most of the fossil fuels it uses from Russia.
Apart from fossils and hydropower, Bulgaria is currently making use of a partially obsolete nuclear plant (Kozlodui), and planning to build another such plant in the north (Belene). Wind power could produce as much energy as these nuclear plants.
Southern Romania and northern Bulgaria, as well as areas along the Black Sea coast in both countries have the most favourable conditions for wind energy production. Among the companies interested in investing in wind power in these countries are Italian ENEL, Spanish Ibedrola and the U.S.-based AES Corporation.
Both countries have taken on the European Union (EU) objective of getting 20 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2020. But given that both Romania and Bulgaria have high hydroelectric capacities, the EU target could be achieved on the basis of hydropower, without replacing fossil fuels with renewables.
Even so, EU environmental legislation and the strong interest among foreign investors in exploiting wind power have been putting pressure on national authorities to act on promoting wind energy.
Bulgarian authorities seem to be moving faster, though Romania has more wind power potential
Around 200 MW of wind farms are already installed in Bulgaria, and another 200 MW is in the pipeline, says Yordan Mihaylov, managing partner at MASS Energy Systems LLC, a company investing in renewable energy parks in Bulgaria and other countries. EBRD noted in its analysis that “Bulgaria’s advantage, apart from the existing wind potential, is the supportive government with a pro-active regulatory approach.”
“I would say that the Bulgarian legal framework is in a much better position than the Romanian one at the moment,” Mihaylov told IPS. “Currently, the Bulgarian government issues 15 years contracts for 100 percent purchase of the electricity (produced by wind parks) at subsidised rates.” Most producers are likely to get a high percentage of their production subsidised at high rates, says Mihaylov. “There are still many gaps in the contracts that are issued, but I am happy to say that the government is working on fixing them.”
On the other side of the border in Romania, less than 100 MW production capacity has been installed so far. Applications for projects adding up to 17,000 MW capacity have been filed by investors with the national electricity authority, but barely a fraction of this will materialise. Some of the proposals are not serious, and so authorities are right to turn them down, says Radu Voinescu, managing partner at Boeru Voinescu Group, a leading wind energy consultancy in Romania.
Another reason for low acceptance of wind park proposals is that the national electricity grid can sustain at most 2000 MW wind power, says Voinescu. Wind power needs special adaptations of the grid to store energy for the times when the wind is not strong enough. Expanding and adapting the electricity grid will need billions of euros, and political will to support renewables.
Unlike in Bulgaria, in Romania the purchase price for renewable energy has been left mainly to the market, making it tougher for producers to estimate profits and plan for the long term.
Bulgaria set for 10x growth in wind power by 2020
Bulgaria is one of the fastest-growing wind energy markets in the world, according to a new report from the European Wind Energy Association. Bulgaria has already doubled its installed wind capacity this year, reaching 330 megawatts—up from 158 megawatts at the end of 2008, according to the EWEA. The growth comes after Bulgaria tripled its wind energy capacity the previous year, up from 57 MW at the end of 2007, according to the Global Wind 2008 Report from the Global Wind Energy Council.
EWEA predicts that Bulgaria’s wind capacity will expand to more than 3,000 MW by 2020—representing 13.5 percent of Bulgaria’s projected electricity demand. If the projections are realized, the country will easily meet its European Union mandate for 16 percent of electricity demand to come from renewables by 2020. Bulgaria currently gets 9.4 percent of its electricity from renewables, the EWEA says. That situation would allow Bulgaria to sell renewable energy to its neighbors struggling to meet the EU targets, creating revenues of EUR 7.5 billion to EUR 10 billion ($10.5 billion to $15 billion) by 2020, the Bulgarian Ministry of Energy said today. Bulgaria’s national action plan outlining its strategy to meet the targets is due to the EU by June 2010. If current planning and grid access barriers are streamlined, Bulgaria will soon be one of Europe’s wind energy front-runners,” he said in a news release.
Wind potential in Bulgaria
Among other countries, Bulgaria also offers potential for construction of wind farms, more specifically along the coastal line and at places with altitude of 1000 meters or more. Future development in suitable mountainous areas or at places with slower wind velocities depends on the implementation of new technical solutions.
Turbine performance depends on wind velocity and turbulence, tower height and air density, therefore it is important to know the specific potential of the Bulgarian region chosen for installing the wind facility, and the conditions under which this potential has been obtained.
There are 119 weather stations in Bulgaria, which register wind velocity and direction.
Zones with the biggest wind energy potential in Bulgaria
• Region One includes the vast flat parts of Bulgaria (Danubian Plain, Thracian Lowlands, Sofia Flat Field, the valleys of Struma and Mesta rivers, and the Fore-Balkan area), where the average multi-annual wind velocity as a rule does not exceed 2 m/sec. Wind speed in these regions is highest in winter (February, March), and lowest in autumn (September, October). 24-hour wind velocity patterns can be clearly identified due to the existence of mountain-valley circulation in the Fore-Balkan.
• Region Two covers the parts of Bulgaria situated east from the line Rousse-Veliko Tarnovo-Elhovo, the Danubian riverside as well as the exposed low mountainous parts at approximately 1000 meters above sea level, where average multi-annual wind velocity varies from 2 to 4 m/sec. Annual velocity peaks occur in winter (February, March) and 24-hour peaks occur during daytime. Wind velocity in these places is lowest in the end of summer and the beginning of autumn (August, September). These annual wind velocity patterns are somewhat displaced in Black Sea coast areas: maximums are in February and minimums are June/July. In areas where the mainland indents into the sea (capes), wind velocity exceeds 4 m/sec.
• Region Three comprises exposed and forestless mountainous areas of altitude more than 1000 meters. High average wind velocities are typical of this region, significantly exceeding 4 m/sec. Velocity peaks here occur in winter (February), while lowest velocities are in summertime (August). 24-hour patterns with nighttime maximums and daytime minimums are well traceable during transitional seasons.
Wind energy key to meeting Turkey’s rising power demand
Turkey has a large potential for renewable energy sources, and has the potential to fulfill its total energy needs from wind energy. The most attractive sites for wind energy utilization are the Marmara, South East Anatolian and Aegean regions. While the average density of wind power is below the 40 W/m2 in 89.3% of Turkey’s total domain, it is over 40 W/m2 in 10.7% and it exceeds 100 W/m2 in 0.8%. There are also some regions of Turkey where average density of wind power reaches 294.1 W/m2 level. Potential wind energy areas of Turkey lie generally in the northwestern, northern and Aegean coastal regions. Other fields lie in the Middle Black Sea and East Mediterranean regions of Turkey. Additionally, Southeastern parts can produce wind energy.
Turkey’s installed wind capacity tripled during 2007 from 50 MW to almost 150 MW. It tripled again during 2008 to reach 433 installed MW, and by the end of 2009 it had almost doubled to 801 MW. Moreover, the government announced a 30% objective for renewable energies by 2023 with plans to push wind energy up to 20,000 MW of installations for the same year.
“With an average growth in power demand of 8% each year, this means that if the 20,000 MW target is met, wind power will cover one fifth of Turkey’s power demand by 2023” said Christian Kjaer, Chief Executive of EWEA. “Wind is clean, indigenous and above all can start producing power quickly – crucial for a country whose power demand is soaring. With huge wind energy potential, ambitious government targets and a recent track-record of rapid wind energy growth, Turkey could be one of the future wind energy movers and shakers, but numerous administrative hurdles must be overcome to attract more investments and manufacturing to the country.”
According to the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, Turkey has wind potential to produce 160 TWh (48,000 MW) of electricity, which is twice the current electricity consumption.
“Wind power is an opportunity for Turkey, and Turkey offers a market opportunity to wind energy investors and developers,” said Murat Durak, Chairman of TUREB. “However, in order to exploit this potential, permitting procedures must be optimised and the government must put in place a legal framework that offers stability and certainty to those who want to invest for the next 15 years. With such conditions Turkey will get enormous benefits in terms of energy security, jobs and economic growth,” he concluded.
Wind energy potential in Serbia
The potential of renewable energy resources in Serbia, including wind energy, is very significant and exceeds 3.8 Mtoe. Today, renewable sources make 7% of total energy sources, with 32% of electric energy being produced in hydro power plants. Strategy of Energy sector development until 2015 has made strengthening alternative energy sources a priority issue. Regarding the legal framework, Law on Energy is regulating energy sector and alternative energy sources, and is the only regulation in this area. It defines privileged status for producers of alternative energy resources which have priority for subsidizes, tax, customs and other incentives according to the law and according to other customs and tax regulations.
It is estimated that there is a technologically justified wind potential of around 0.2 million tons of oil equivalent in Serbia, which could replace 10% of total electric energy consumption. However this potential is still to be exploited, as this energy sector is under development. With current technology levels in Serbia total capacities of wind generators, which could be implemented in electro-energy system in Serbia, is about 1300MW of installed power, which is approximately 15% of total energy capacity of Serbia. These capacities could potentially produce about 2.3 TWh of electric energy annually. Areas of major wind power potential in Serbia, identified by the survey, are Jastrebac, Stara planina, Kopaonik, Juhor, Suva planina, Tupiznica, Krepoljina, Ozren, Vlasina, as well as territory of city of Vrsac.2 Especially interesting for foreign investors is Vojvodina with almost two thirds of it has wind speed that exceeds 4 m/s, and the needed constant level of 5 m/s could be found in several locations: Vrsac (as leading with 6.27) m/s, Bela Crkva, In?ija, Irig, kikinda, Sombor, Novi Sad and Sremska Mitrovica.
State organized projects in this area were never initiated, as this sector is left for private investors.
Opening of several small companies producing equipment for windmills that has never been plugged into energy network followed this. Interest of foreign investors is risen just recently when the first windmill farm started being built in In?ija (11 windmills, total power of 25 MW worth 30 million EUR). This project is being performed in close cooperation with Indija Municipality and Austrian investor.
Regions in Serbia with locations potentially suitable for the construction of wind generators
• Eastern parts of Serbia - Stara Planina, Ozren, Vlasina, Rtanj, Deli Jovan, Crni Vrh, etc. There are locations in these regions with average wind velocity vav > 6m/s, which corresponds to the power of Pav=(300-400) W/m2. This area covers about 2000 km2 and in the future about 2000 MW of installed wind generator power might be built here;
• Pester, Zlatibor, Zabljak, Bjelasica, Kopaonik and Divcibare are mountain regions which abound in winds, where measurements may be taken and appropriate suitable micro locations found (at altitudes over 800 m) for the construction of wind generators;
• Pannonian Plain, north of Danube, i.e. wider region of the territory where kosava wind blows also abounds in winds. This area covers about 2000 km2 and is suitable for the construction of wind generators because the basic infrastructure already exists, from roads to electricity grid, and also because of the vicinity of big centers of electric energy consumption, and the like. In future, it would be possible to install there about (1500-2000) MW of wind generator capacities.
Text and picture source: EWEA, World of renewables, Centre for the promotion of clean and efficient energy in Romania, Cleantech.com, Eurolink Bulgaria, Primus GBS Serbia, Bulgarian Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism, EBRD.
LATEST issue 3/2023