Spain’s Bilbao fights to lead European wind power sector

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The Basque city of Bilbao is the focus of Spain’s wind power industry which is fighting to hold its own in the face of fierce competition from China and northern Europe. Iberdrola and Gamesa, two of the most important players in the sector, have their headquarters in the northern Basque region’s biggest city and its verdant surrounding area. Gamesa merged with Germany’s Siemens in 2017. Both companies lead the Spanish wind power sector whose domestic growth stalled after an economic downturn led the central government in 2012 to end incentives for renewable energy. Despite this Spain remains the fifth country in the world in installed wind power capacity and the outlook for the sector has improved with new tenders launched in 2016. The wind power sector is expected to invest 5.0 billion euros ($6.0 billion) in Spain by 2020, according to the Spanish Wind Energy Association (AEE). The new context is fueling the optimism of Basque wind power firms, which drive the sector in Spain. “We want to be a benchmark in the European Union,” said Arantxa Tapia, the minister for economic development with the Basque regional government during a recent meeting with the press organised by WindEurope, a European wind power association. Markus Tacke, the chief executive officer of Siemens Gamesa, said Bilbao is “attractive for our industries” since there is “a very good combination of industrial leadership… and support from the (regional) government”.