British developer in global partnerships

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Britain's Renewable Energy Systems Ltd (RES) has teamed up with Eole Technologie of France in a joint venture to develop wind projects in France and the French Territories. Initially they will develop two French sites that secured power purchase contracts in 1997 under France's EOLE 2005 program: La Hague, a 4.5 MW scheme near Cherbourg, and 7.5 MW at Le Souleilla, near Perpignan. RES will be the turnkey contractor during construction, with assistance from EOLE Technologie, which will also supply some components through its sister company EOLE Industries. EOLE Technologie will operate and maintain the completed wind farms.

At the moment the two projects are still in the consenting phase, but according to RES's Ian Mays, the companies hope to get them built as soon as possible to raise the profile of wind energy in France. Later, they intend to bid further projects into future rounds of EOLE 2005.

Eole Technologie was founded in 1995 by a group of industrial engineering companies and is based at Bourg Sain Andéol in the south of France. The purpose of the company is to develop, construct and operate wind power plants. The La Hague project will use three 1500 kW turbines from Tacke in Germany, part of the giant Enron group of America, says Eole Technologie. An Enron company, Zond of California, is also to supply ten 750 kW units for Le Souleilla, one of the windiest areas in France according to Eole Technologie.

RES, a long time stalwart of the British wind industry, is fast expanding its overseas activities. As well as France, the company is involved in wind energy in the US, Portugal, Ireland, Jamaica and China. Mays claims that RES has links with 1000 MW of new wind energy projects at different stages of development throughout the world.

Portugal and the US

The French deal follows a pattern which has become typical for the company when operating abroad. In Portugal, it signed a similar agreement earlier this year with ENIOL, a small local company based in Arganil, near Coimbra. The joint venture will develop up to 100 MW at sites at Pampilhosa da Serra. The wind farms will be built in phases, with construction due to begin on the first next year. ENIOL provides the local skills, liaison and site acquisition, while RES supplies the technical skills and construction expertise. RES has opened an office -- RES Portugal -- in Coimbra, in expectation of a good future market there.

In America, RES sees its participation in repowering a Californian wind farm with Micon turbines as a first step into the huge US market. RES is one of the companies that make up WindCo, an international consortium that acquired wind farm assets from the bankrupt FloWind Corp. Other members of the consortium are M&N Wind Power -- a partnership between Nichimen of Japan and Denmark's NEG Micon -- and FPL Energy, part of the huge FPL energy group in the US. "This project is part of our strategy in the US where we hope to be a to be a significant player -- a developer and builder, just as we are in Europe," says Mays.

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