United Kingdom

United Kingdom

America gets a turbine maker -- Stock swap deal

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Composite Technology Corporation (CTC), a US developer of conductors for power transmission and distribution lines, is to acquire the entire share capital of a small British wind energy company, EU Energy plc. CTC, which filed for bankruptcy in May 2005 to fend off litigation, but reorganised and emerged in November, is buying EU from its shareholders in exchange for EUR 60.7 million of common stock of CTC.

EU Energy, a company operating out of Milton Keynes in the English Midlands, owns German turbine manufacturer DeWind GmbH, which it bought in July 2005 from British industrial group FKI. DeWind was offloaded by FKI after no more than a two year period of ownership (Windpower Monthly, December 2004), during which it largely focused on improving service and maintenance of existing DeWind machines in Germany. EU Energy's US subsidiary is EU Energy Inc, based in Nevada.

Supply deals

EU Energy recently concluded two reserve agreements for the supply of a total of 1600 MW of DeWind turbines in the US in the coming years. Last month it agreed to supply Exergy Development Group -- a company based in Montana and Idaho -- with up to 550 turbines totalling 1100 MW over five years from 2007 for wind power projects throughout the US. And in February it entered into a 500 MW agreement with New York financial advisory firm NorthWinds Advisors to supply NorthWinds' clients with 250 turbines over three years from 2007. EU also has an agreement with India for the purchase of 300 MW of wind turbines over three years, and licence agreements with China for the production of DeWind machines.

CTC sees wind energy as complementary to its transmission line technology. It says it has been looking at the wind energy market for two years as a result of wind developers' interest in its aluminium composite electricity coductor. This, the company claims, is the same diameter as conventional power lines, but allows double the flow, helping overcome transmission constraint problems. CTC's Benton Wilcoxon says: "We believe the combination of highly reliable German DeWind power generation technology with our high performance ACCC conductor for grid connections and enhanced transmission capacity is a perfect solution for meeting the increased demand for more economical renewable energy in the US and worldwide."

EU Energy will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of CTC, with its current chairman and chief executive officer Michael Porter retained as CEO. EU Energy declines to say who is behind the company. "Our investors," says staff member Layla Porter, daughter of Michael Porter. EU Energy plans to set up an assembly plant in the US to be operational by 2007. It has drawn up a shortlist of three potential sites; a final decision is expected in April.

Explaining the reason for CTC's stock-swap investment in EU Energy, CTC spokesman Kevin Coates describes it as "a good play for us." He points out that the DeWind technology does not contravene GE Energy's wind technology patent. "We think the DeWind is the best turbine on the market and that's why we're going after it. It's ultra reliable and ultra smooth and we think it's the best thing going," says Coates.

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