Nine offshore project receive €565m EC funding

OFFSHORE: Nine offshore wind projects, including Vattenfall's Kriegers Flak project in the Baltic Sea, have been chosen to receive a share of the EUR565 million funding from the region's EUR4 billion economic-stimulus package.

In December, after months of political wrangling, the European Commission announced the projects that will share the European Energy Programme for Recovery (EEPR) money. Vattenfall's venture is awarded EUR150 million; Cobra Cable, the large capacity interconnector to link the Netherlands and Denmark, will receive EUR86.8 million; and Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission's planned High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) link off the Scottish coast has been granted EUR74.1 million. Five other projects will receive EUR40-58 million each, while C-Power's Thornton Bank venture has been awarded EUR10 million.

EU member states submitted 29 projects for funding and, after applying its eligibility criteria, the commission narrowed it down to nine ventures. Applicants had to prove that their project was reaching the investment stage and incurring substantial capital expenditure by the end of 2010, and demonstrate its innovative features, its impact and contribution to the EU's offshore wind grid.

Five projects are in reserve in case a chosen project is no longer eligible, but EU energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs warned that the procedure would not be automatic.

Contracts were being signed in December, said Piebalgs, but it could be 2012 before the money is distributed, depending on the speed of the project.

The relatively small amounts of cash allocated to certain projects, in particular the EUR10 million given to Thornton Bank, should not be underestimated, he said, adding that the input of EU money often made a venture more attractive to other investors: "When we co-finance a project, banks see it differently."

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