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EDF EN: Sharing risk and cost

WORLDWIDE: EDF EN, the renewables arm of French utility EDF, has built up a pipeline of over 14GW with projects planned in Europe, the Americas and Africa. Finding partners for offshore development is key to its strategy.

Setting sail…The 62MW Teesside wind farm in the UK is EDF EN's first fully owned offshore project
Setting sail…The 62MW Teesside wind farm in the UK is EDF EN's first fully owned offshore project

EDF Energies Nouvelles (EDF EN), the renewables arm of French energy giant EDF, accounts for just 4.2% of EDF's 140GW installed capacity of electric power, with wind providing 4.3GW. But the parent company aims to increase the renewables share, including hydro, to 25%.

EDF EN's priorities are wind and solar photovoltaic, with wind making up 87% of installed capacity and solar 10%. The rest is marine energies, biogas and biomass.

The group acts as an integrated operator, covering the whole value chain from site selection to financing, construction, and operation and maintenance (O&M). While its core strategy is to develop and own sites, earning revenue from electricity sales, it also develops and builds for third parties. It is prepared to sell assets to balance the portfolio and fund new development, and to buy into projects to strengthen its position in key markets. EDF EN's O&M business manages around 10GW of renewables, mostly wind. Of this, 8.4GW is in North America, although the group also has an O&M arm in Europe, in a business that looks set to expand.

EDF EN's geographic base is North America and Europe, with capacities currently split roughly 50:50. The group is also targeting emerging markets with "a growing energy demand, strong resource and a stable political and economic environment", the company says. It is now active in 17 countries, with a pipeline of 14.4GW, split mainly between the US (4.2GW), France (3GW), UK (1.8GW) and Morocco (1.1GW). South Africa, Brazil, Turkey, Mexico and Poland also figure highly.

To support this growth, the group is developing its policy of partnerships. This could be with local developers to reach new markets, financial partners to share risk, and technology partners to enter new sectors. EDF EN has teamed up with Mitsui in Morocco, Enbridge in Canada, and Dong Energy and Wpd Offshore in France. It has turbine supply agreements with Vestas in the US and Europe, with Senvion in Canada, and is partnered with Alstom for its French offshore projects.

EDF EN is growing its offshore presence, kicking off with a 9.15% stake in Belgium's Thornton Bank I and full ownership of the 62MW Teesside project in the UK. Its main targets are France and the UK, where it has shares in 3GW of projects.

The group is also investing in offshore research to drive down costs and promote promising technologies to reach industrial scale. It recently acquired the rights to the UK's Blyth demonstration site, which can test up to 15 turbines, and is trialing a new gravity-based foundation in France, with Seatower. EDF EN has a majority stake in the Vertiwind vertical axis floating turbine, alongside Technip and designer Nenuphar. An offshore prototype is scheduled for 2017.

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