British investor grows portfolio -- Britain, Lithuania and Poland

A newcomer to the wind business, Renewable Energy Generation Limited (REG), is to buy a portfolio of 24 small wind projects in Britain from wind farm developer Npower Renewables. REG, which listed on London Stock Exchange's Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in May, is a renewable energy investment company with interests in the UK and Eastern Europe. It is buying the projects through its subsidiary, Cornwall Light & Power (CLP), which it acquired in June. The £4 million purchase totals over 75 MW.

The portfolio typically comprises projects of just two or three turbines that Npower has developed with landowners under its WindWorks program. They are spread across England and Wales and are at various stages of development, with four already having gained planning consent and seven in advanced permitting stages.

Npower says it is selling its small wind sites to "focus its strengths on developing, constructing and operating larger, more complex projects." John Ainslie from Npower explains: "With our resources, both in terms of staff and finances, we are well placed to operate in this area of the market. We are pleased, however, to have found in CLP a company that is well placed to work with the landowners involved in these smaller schemes, providing them with the support they need and driving the projects through to conclusion."

From CLP, Bruce Woodman believes the portfolio is an ideal fit with the company, which already operates a 5.6 MW wind farm at Goonhilly Downs in Cornwall. "Our people have been active in the UK for well over a decade," he says. "This is our home market and we are well placed to understand and manage projects of this size."

De-mystifying wind

He says the WindWorks projects all enjoy an above average wind resource and can hook up to the lower voltage distribution network. "One of the beauties of small projects is that you can fit a couple of wind turbines on to a good wind site where a larger project would be more difficult." Moreover, a spread of small clusters of turbines in England and Wales can help gain public acceptance for wind, Woodman says. "It is a great way of de-mystifying wind in this country."

The WindWorks program was launched in 2001 by National Wind Power, the wind power division of Npower's predecessor. The aim was to help farmers and landowners develop small scale wind projects by providing the project equity. Although Npower owned the projects, the farmers and landowners gain the benefit of a low risk steady income stream. As the new owner of the projects, REG says it intends to start construction of the consented sites as soon as practicable.

Baltics and Poland

Meantime, REG has agreed heads of terms with Lithuanian company Baltic Natural Energy (BNE) for development of some 51 MW of wind projects in Lithuania. BNE has already built a 5.4 MW wind farm at Palanga, and is progressing a 40 MW project at Prekula, which is scheduled for development in 2006.

In Poland, REG has a stake in the country's largest wind project in partnership with American energy investment company Invenergy Wind, one of the most active companies in the US wind business. The 50 MW Tymien wind project of 25 Vestas turbines is under construction near the Baltic coast, in the north-west of the country. It is expected to be operational by spring 2006.