London backer for German 400 MW project

The first financial investor to make a clear commitment to construction of a German offshore wind station is London's Blackstone Group, a provider of corporate private equity. Last month it announced a partnership with Windland Energieerzeugung to complete development and construction of the 400 MW Meerwind offshore wind station in the North Sea, some 80 kilometres off Germany's mainland coast and 24 kilometres north of the island of Helgoland. Total project cost will exceed EUR 1 billion. Joachim Falkenhagen, who founded Windland in 1990, declines to give details of the partnership or the length of time for which Blackstone will participate in the project after commissioning. Speaking for Blackstone, Hans-Jürgen Schneider says the company has taken a majority stake in Meerwind and the commitment will continue "at least until the station is built in 2013 and possibly for much longer." Blackstone will draw money for the project from its existing "BCP 5" fund, says Falkenhagen. Installation of 80 turbines could begin in 2011/2012 if turbines are available. Talks with suppliers will begin shortly, says Falkenhagen. Meerwind is Blackstone's first venture in the wind business. No other financial investor has committed to taking a German offshore wind project through construction, though others are involved in project development. These include international investor Greenoak, founded by well known Danish entrepreneur Jan Bonde Nielsen, which is involved in the 80 turbine Sandbank 24 project in the North Sea being developed by Oldenburg company Projekt. Similarly, Deutsche Bank is a partner in the Ventotec Ost 2 project in the Baltic Sea together with German bank group Arcadis and investment group Gesellschaft für Handel und Finanz, which has been involved in wind power since 1997 through its Ventotec division.

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