Romania Aims for Wind Energy Lead

Iberdrola SA has won approval to build the world’s largest onshore wind-energy project in Romania, requiring at least $2 billion in investment through 2017, reports.

The Spanish utility said it acquired rights from the Romanian government to build 1,500 megawatts of capacity, almost five times the power coming from Europe’s largest wind complex and triple the output of the controversial Cape Wind project under consideration off the coast of Massachusetts.

Iberdrola, which charges above-market electricity rates for clean energy, now operates in 10 markets including the U.S. and U.K. The Romanian mega-park, near its operations in neighboring Hungary, may extend the Spanish company’s lead over second-ranked wind producer FPL Group Inc. of Florida.

Romania currently generates much of its electricity by burning oil and gas. The Romanian government is considering a law to double the number of “green certificates” eligible for wind power and boost the total price per megawatt-hour by 25 percent,.

The Iberdrola Renovables SA renewable-energy unit plans 50 Romanian wind parks that would supply the equivalent of almost 1 million homes. The project amounts to a third of the new wind power Iberdrola plans for Eastern Europe, after investing 100 million euros there in 2009.

The average cost to buy and install wind turbines around the world is about 1.3 million euros ($1.75 million) a megawatt, according to New Energy Finance. Using those figures, Iberdrola’s Dobrogea project in southeastern Romania on the Black Sea would cost more than $2 billion, Bloomberg reports.