German utility keen to get its feet wet -- E.on invests offshore

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The energy projects wing of giant German utility E.on has bought a 50% stake in a 125 MW offshore wind station proposed for the Baltic Sea and known as Sky 2000. At the same time E.on Energy Projects (E.on EP) has secured an option to own and operate a major part of the station, assuming it is built.

E.on EP raised EUR 600,000 through a capital increase to help it take a 50% stake 1. Schleswig-Holstein Offshore Windpark Verwaltung (1. Show). The remaining half of the company is owned by Geo Gesellschaft für Energie und Ökologie, which has a 20% stake, and several individual investors with expert wind knowledge who own 30%, Geo says. The entire 125 MW project is expected to cost EUR 200 million, or EUR 1600/kW installed.

Sky 2000 is to consist of 50, 2-3 MW turbines. E.on Energy will own 80% of the wind plant, with the remaining 20% owned by a "people's wind station company," Geo says. The aim will be to attract local investors from eastern Holstein. "We haven't yet discussed whether E.On should operate the whole wind station but it would make sense," says Thomas Weber of the projects division.

Licensing of the Sky 2000 project, under development since 1995, is expected to be completed in 2003. The wind station will be connected to land at Bentwisch near Rostock using conventional AC cable. The technical feasibility for the 60 kilometre link was confirmed by utility Veag at the end of last year, says Geo's Marten Jensen.

Sky 2000 is E.on EP's second participation in offshore wind development, although two E.on subsidiaries, Britain's PowerGen and Scandinavian Sydkraft, also have offshore activities. In autumn 2001, E.on EP acquired 50% of an offshore wind project dubbed Amrum Bank West for an undisclosed price from German wind developer Rennert Offshore of Müden. Assuming it is licensed, Amrum Bank West is to comprise 72, 3-5 MW turbines.

E.on's motivation for its offshore investments is two-fold: profit and meeting CO2 obligations, says Weber. "The projects must pay. And we have made a voluntary commitment as part of a wider industry agreement with the government to reduce E.on Energie's annual CO2 emissions."

To achieve the target the company is improving efficiency at its coal stations and investing in renewables. Aside from four 20 MW biomass projects, two now constructing, E.on has several wind energy projects under way, which by summer 2003 will add up to about 70 MW. Orders have been placed with Enron Wind, Vestas and Bonus for three separate projects, all of which will be running this year, two of them bought from the original developer. In early 2003 it hopes to bring on-line ten turbines at a small lignite mining company owned by E.On Energie.

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