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United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates

London array gets big new investor -- United Arab Emirates oil capital buys into offshore wind

Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, a major oil producer, has secured a 20% stake in the 1000 MW London Array offshore wind project in the Thames Estuary. Under a joint venture with energy company E.ON, Abu Dhabi's investment vehicle in renewable energies, Masdar, has bought 40% of E.ON's half share in the project. Danish energy company DONG owns the other half.

Abu Dhabi, the capital city the United Arab Emirates, a major oil producer, has secured a 20% stake in the 1000 MW London Array offshore wind project in the Thames Estuary. Under a joint venture with energy company E.ON, Abu Dhabi's investment vehicle in renewable energies, Masdar, has bought 40% of E.ON's half share in the project. Danish energy company DONG owns the other half.

Masdar's welcome injection of cash in London Array follows Shell's withdrawal from the project earlier this year to concentrate on markets such as the US, where it can reap higher returns. Masdar is owned by the Abu Dhabi government. Earlier this year, it announced it was making $15 billion available for investment in the development and commercialisation of innovative technologies in renewable and sustainable energies and sustainable design. The sum provided to Masdar is believed to be the world's single largest government commitment to sustainable energy technologies.

The government believes the investment will leverage commitments from additional partners for a "grand portfolio" of clean energy financing comprising projects in Abu Dhabi and overseas. In September, Masdar announced a EUR 120 million investment in an as yet minor wind turbine manufacturer, Winwind of Finland (page 42).

More to come

Masdar and E.ON intend to collaborate on further renewable energy projects. Initially, the focus will be on wind and the London Array project, but over the coming months they expect to announce a series of projects across a range of renewables. These will include projects that qualify to sell carbon emission reduction credits under the provisions of the Kyoto protocol on climate change. Sultan Al Jaber, Masdar's CEO, says that London Array is an important investment for the company. "We believe that the offshore wind market will be a major force in the future, and this is a very opportune time for us to enter this developing segment of the renewable energy market," he states.

Masdar has a strategy of partnering with leading companies in their field, he adds. "Our partnership with E.ON is a strong testament of this philosophy and of our commitment to this industry segment. Through this project, we also hope to build a partnership with the UK government to drive the future growth of the renewable energy sector for the benefit of both our economies."

E.ON and Masdar are looking for continued UK government commitment to London Array. A delegation from the two companies met with senior ministers to discuss the project. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown welcomes Masdar as an owner of the country's premier offshore wind project. "This is an excellent example of the partnership we need between oil producing and oil consuming countries to develop new energy sources and technologies, diversifying their economies and reducing our dependence on carbon. The scale and vision of the London Array is groundbreaking and places the UK at the forefront of offshore wind development."

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