The government of Spain on July 20 approved legislation that will allow offshore wind parks to be set up along the nation's vast coastline in an effort to boost the use of renewable energy sources. "This law will allow the installation for the first time of electricity generators in the ocean," the economy ministry said.
Spain, a leading producer of land-based wind energy, has some 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) of coastline which draw millions of sun seekers each year, helping to make it the world's second most visited nation after France. While more expensive than land-based wind farms, offshore wind parks can take advantage of stronger, steadier coastal breezes. But critics fear offshore wind parks will blot the landscape and hurt fishing. To allay these concerns the government said offshore wind farm projects will need clearance from the environment ministry.
The government will also identify the best places where the parks, which will be required to have a minimum size of at least 50 megawatts, can be set up and interested firms will then be allowed to reserve the area.
Spain, which along with Germany and Denmark, is among the three biggest producers of wind power in the 27-nation EU, plans to triple the amount of energy it derives from renewable sources by 2020.
The Netherlands opened its first major offshore wind farm earlier this year and several similar projects are in the works for Britain, Germany and the United States.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007