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Sweden

Sweden

Local giants flock to the wind sector -- Investment plans top EUR 1 billion

In a flurry of activity in Sweden in recent months, several of the country's largest companies have announced plans to invest in wind power adding up to more than EUR 1 billion of projects in the pipeline. The most ambitious plan comes from Stena Renewable, a division of the Stena AB shipping and energy company. It has pledged to invest SEK 6 billion (EUR 637 million) to develop 500 MW of wind capacity within the next five years. The government's decision last year to extend its requirement for green power and certificate trading system to 2030 gave Stena full confidence in the market and the final nudge it needed to go ahead, says the company's Göran Danielsson.

The company's first wind farm of five Vestas 2 MW turbines at Fjällberget was acquired from local developer Fjällvind and is already online. Stena Renewables has applied for permission to add a further 18 turbines to the site. More recently, it joined forces with the Swedish Forest Association. Together they are identifying potential sites for wind plants, which they will co-develop in the forested areas of the country.

Risky

Wind project development in such areas carries extra risk, according to wind power expert Tore Wizelius at Gotland University. He maintains that increased variability in wind speeds at forest sites and high rates of wind turbulence lead to more problems and quicker wear and tear on turbines. While agreeing there is more risk, Danielsson is not deterred. "Forests are more demanding for wind...he's right," Danielsson says. "That just means you've got to move above the trees...get one hundred metre turbine heights or above."

Another new big investor in the Swedish wind market is O2 Produktion AB, a joint venture between Swedish asset management company Proventus, which holds a 70% share, and Swedish renewable energy group O2. It is planning to invest SEK 2-3 billion (EUR 212-312 million). Its first project is the 24 MW Röbergsfjället wind farm in Dalarna of eight Vestas 3 MW units budgeted at SEK 220 million (EUR 23.8 million). It is due for completion this December.

Meanwhile, wind plant investments worth nearly SEK 1.5 billion (EUR 159 million) are planned by real estate conglomerate Wallenstam in partnership with energy and environment consultancy Triventus, via their new joint venture company, Vindmyran.

Wallenstam wants to become energy self-sufficient and hopes to acquire and develop enough wind plant to meet the demand of its 300 plus domestic apartment buildings. It already owns three turbines and is planning a nine-turbine project at Öijared, near Gothenburg. This is scheduled for completion in 2009. Another newcomer to the industry is Swedish forest group Sodra. It is investing SEK 570 million (EUR 60 million) in two wind plants in southern Sweden. Combined they will have 20 turbines.

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