Dobrogea becomes the largest wind farm in Central and Eastern Europe

Dobrogea became the largest wind farm in Central and Eastern Europe, with hundreds of 2.5 MW wind turbines being spread all over the Constanta County, in Cogealac, Fantele, Pestera, Independenta, Chirnogeni, Silistea, Targusor and Crucea localities and surrounding areas.

The Dobrogea strong winds and the high price of electricity continue to attract investments in wind parks here, despite the problem existing of the missing infrastructure for transporting the energy produced. In this context, experts in the field drew attention that investments in wind parks should be stopped in the Dobrogea areas. At least for now.

One of the largest operational wind parks in the Constanta County is the one located in the Cogeleac-Fantanele area, with 240 wind turbines and a total installed capacity of 600 MW, in the context in which one single reactor of the Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant generates a power of 700 MW.

Another 30-turbine park, and with 270 other wind turbines pending for construction approval, can be found at Pestera, according to the mayor of this commune, Valentin Vrabie.

Investors in the wind parks in Dobrogea are mostly companies running on foreign capital: Czech companies, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and French and from other European countries.

According to the general manager of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Navigation and Agriculture of Constanta (CCINA), Danut Juganaru, the wind force here produces a surplus of energy that the national system is not able to take over at this precise moment.

‘From the data that we have, this is already the largest wind park in Central and Eastern Europe […] The question is whether there should be even more investments allowed here [i.e, in Dobrogea] in wind parks or rather not, since Transelectrica is already in the situation of not being able to take over any other new sources of wind energy. It seems that the national grid has already reached its maximum in terms of how much it can take over,’ the representative of the CCINA told AGERPRES.

According to him, the situation is ‘much more delicate’ and it does not refer strictly to the wind power production, but to the entire national energy system.

‘We need to see, while considering all the other sources of energy in Romania, what exactly means the Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant with its two reactors, what Hidroelectrica means, what the other coal plants mean and the gas ones etc. And we have to consider all this in the context in which we already have big problems with the gas supply, and look what is happening in Ukraine right now with the gas supply […] and we might encounter big problems in the future too, while the import gas could become too expensive. Of course that we need to use as little gas as possible to produce power in Romania. That we should use another mixture, from which to eliminate the gas as much as possible, given that, even if we import no more than 25-30 per cent of the gas that we need, this is still expensive gas. At least until we will be able to bring out from the Black Sea the amount of gas that seems to be there, until we will be able to explore the shale gas in Romania, if ever […] You saw what happened in Poland where expectations related to the shale gas were really high and in the end the big Western companies were forced to leave because of the gas deposits that resulted too small […] So the problem we are talking about is a much more delicate one that involves the entire national energy system,’ said Juganaru.

Another project that could be viable when it comes of the export of electricity from Romania to Turkey is the one presented by the Romanian authorities that refers to the building of a submarine power cable in the Black Sea.

‘We often have a surplus of electricity that we cannot export because of the missing transportation infrastructure. There has been a lot of talk about that submarine power cable that is supposed to link Romania and Turkey. Turkey, for instance, needs the power and it could buy it from us if we had a proper cable for transporting it,’ said the general manager of CCINA Constanta.

According to him, the power consumption in Romania is already on decrease, mostly as a result of the decrease recorded in the industrial activity, which is why – considering also the missing infrastructure that impedes us to export the surplus that we produce – we shouldn’t allow even more investments in wind parks in Dobrogea.

‘On the one hand, we have a drop in consumption and, on the other hand, we are trying to produce more. That’s why we need to think of a way to be able to export, instead of just producing more … for whom? Since the consumption is already decreasing?’ said Danut Juganar.

Another energy producer in Constanta County is the Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant, a unit that provides about 18 per cent of the total national power consumption through its two reactors.

The first unit of the plant became operative back in 1996 with an installed power of approx. 700 MW. The second one became functional in 2007.

The initial plan that was made in 1980 included five reactors.

In such extreme situations, when the cooling water can no longer be pumped into the cooling installations because of the Danube level sometimes being too low, the reactors of the plant must be stopped.

The authorities are currently trying to find investors to complete the construction works at the reactors number 3 and 4.

The CCINA Constanta general manager claims that, in approximately 10 years from now, the first reactor of the plant will complete its cycle of operation as according to its initial design, and a decision will be needed on whether to rebuild it or maybe built a new unit instead.

‘But what if investors will actually come to build the 3rd and 4th reactors, what then? It will mean that we will be able to produce even more energy […] Let’s not forget that in approx. 10 years from now the first reactor of the Cernavoda Plant will end its life cycle. And the problem then will be … what to do next? Should we spend a lot of money to modernize it or should we build a new reactor? And, thus, slowly, we will have to replace the two old reactors with new ones,’ said Danut Juganaru.

In his opinion, another delicate matter is represented by the energy produced by using photovoltaic panels and he gave as an example a photovoltaic park existing next to the Constanta-Bucharest motorway, which was built exactly where it wasn’t supposed to be built, precisely on a plot of arable land.

‘At some point the possibility existed in Romania, the same as in other countries, to build these panels wherever the investors desired to build them. But there is a problem with the food safety, if you want. We are supposed to avoid locating such photovoltaic parks on such plots of arable land of the best quality and we should build them instead on barren land. We will also prevent, by doing this, the possibility of expanding the production of photovoltaic energy in Romania, which is a very clean one, but not a cheap one,’ said Juganaru.

Transelectrica issued 10.1 million green certificates for the energy producers in 2013, according to data available on the OPCOM, the electricity market operator.

The renewable energy production hit a record-level in end-2013, with a total capacity of the existing projects in the system of 4,255 MW, by 82 per cent more than in end-2012, according to the data made available by the National Regulatory Authority in the Field of Energy (ANRE).

Producers of renewable energy receive subsidies in the form of green certificates billed on all consumers, households included, and which are entered separately in the monthly electricity bill.

Romania undertook to have by 2020 a share of 24 percent of its final gross energy consumption covered from renewable sources, but the National Energy Regulatory Authority (ANRE) announced that Romania had already attained this target on January 1, 2014.

‘Romania is right now the country that assumed the luxury of issuing the largest number of green certificates, compared with other countries, which leads to another extremely unpleasant aspect for all of us the consumers. All these green certificates will be reflected in our electricity bills. Which is not good […] this desire to have more renewable energy produced should not affect the people’s electricity bill. This is a delicate topic,’ said Juganaru.