ERG targets new sites abroad, repowering at home

ITALY: Developer ERG is counting on repowering and reblading of domestic wind farms to boost its current 1,093MW in Italian wind capacity by a fifth in the next five years.

ERG will look to increase its Italian capacity through repowering and retrofits
ERG will look to increase its Italian capacity through repowering and retrofits

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Repowering and reblading turbines feature in ERG's plans to boost total portfolio capacity by 860MW, or about 30%, to 3.6GW by 2022.

In its 2018-2022 industrial plan, ERG earmarked €402 million to invest in repowering 153MW of its Italian capacity, which feature old, sub-1MW turbines and are exiting incentive periods.

Repowering with 3-4MW turbines could increase their capacity by about 260MW to 410MW, while nearly quadrupling output and halving turbine numbers.

Reblading, in which ERG is investing €16 million, will involve four wind farms totalling 53MW. While not altering capacity, output should increase 16%.

ERG chief executive Luca Bettonte predicted "double-digit" returns from these investments, which have been aided by technological advancements and Italian regulatory improvements.

The company is also allocating €444 million to add 350MW of wind capacity in France, Germany and the UK through new and co-developed projects.

ERG also anticipates spending €350 million on acquisitions, in addition to the €337 million invested in January to buy Italian solar group ForVei and its 89MW capacity.

Including ForVei, ERG expects growth of 250MW via acquisitions through 2022, with priority for wind power overseas and solar in Italy.

As it grows, ERG is increasingly handling development inhouse. At the same time, Italian operations & maintenance activities are now completely inhouse and by 2019 O&M for half of all wind farms abroad will be serviced internally.

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