First signal of offshore intentions -- Allianz doubles wind holdings

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Giant insurance group Allianz, based in Germany, has signalled its intention to branch into offshore wind development. Allianz Specialised Investments has paid an undisclosed sum to Repower for the Büttel wind station of five Repower 5 MW turbines in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Although the turbines are installed on land, they are designed predominantly for offshore use.

"Not only is this an attractive investment in its own right but, in addition, it will provide us with direct operating experience with one of the leading offshore wind turbines," says David Jones of Allianz. The offshore wind sector "is one in which we expect to grow considerably over the coming years and is an area where we are actively seeking to invest." The turbines, commissioned at the end of last year, will be operated by Denker and Wulf, a company with strong connections to Repower.

Three deals

The purchase of Büttel was one of five wind plant acquisitions, secured in three separate deals, announced by Allianz for a combined total of almost 92 MW. Together they bring the company's installed wind capacity to 207 MW. The Repower deal was followed by the acquisition of the 22 MW Schönwalde wind station in the inland state of Brandenburg, eastern Germany. The 11 Vestas 2 MW machines were bought from Denmark's Global Wind Power, which will continue to operate the plant on behalf of Allianz.

The third deal was with financial services company SachsenFonds for the Berge and Kleeste wind stations in Brandenburg, which are made up of various NEG Micon (now Vestas) turbines for a combined total of 28.8 MW, and the 16 MW Emmendorf wind farm in Lower Saxony of eight Vestas machines. Both projects were completed in 2003. The original developer, Energiequelle, will continue to operate them.

The rash of acquisitions marks a break from Allianz's usual pattern. Until now it has bought all its wind capacity from German wind project developer WKN, kicking off in December 2005 with the 72 MW Francoforte station in Sicily. This was followed by the 16 MW Freyenstein plant in Brandenburg, Germany, in August 2006. In January 2007, it acquired WKN's 18 MW Halenbeck and 10 MW Kittlitz stations, also in Brandenburg.

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