The company's geographical diversification strategy, illustrated to financial analysts in September, will allow it to hedge against risks of potential changes to the incentive schemes in any single market.
The announcement of the strategy comes amid uncertainty about future wind energy incentive prices in its home Italian market, where all its operational wind farms are located (Windpower Monthly, August 2010).
As it eyes opportunities in both eastern and western Europe, Alerion aims to boost annual electricity production to more than 2TWh. This compares with estimated total production of about 775GWh from a total of 368MW in renewable energy plants that are either operational, under construction or fully authorised. The vast majority, or 335MW, of these projects are in the wind energy sector - where the company plans to concentrate further in the future.
Alerion is beginning its European expansion in Romania. In July, it received authorisation to build a 65MW wind farm in the municipalities of Ausea and Borod in north-eastern Bihor county. Total investments for the wind farm are estimated at EUR85 million while estimated annual electricity production at the facility is about 155GWh.
An Alerion spokesperson says that complete authorisation for other Romanian wind projects is expected in the coming months. The firm set up an office in Oradea, in 2007.
Eastern European markets like Romania offer high growth potential, long-term regulatory frameworks and attractive remuneration schemes, says the spokesperson, with the going rate in Romania for wind production now EUR0.145/kWh. The company is also developing projects in Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary, where it set up an office in the capital, Budapest, earlier this year.
However, Alerion is not overlooking some of the more established markets in western Europe, which the company sees as offering stable incentive schemes and low risk. Selected opportunities will be evaluated in markets including Germany, France, Belgium and the UK, according to an Alerion spokesperson.
As of September, Alerion had 146MW of operational Italian wind farms on its balance sheet. That figure is expected to rise by 51MW by the end of 2010 as another two Italian projects come online. Besides the 64.8MW Ausea Borod facility, Alerion also received authorisation earlier this year for a 73MW wind farm in San Marco in Lamis in the southern Italian region of Apulia.