Developer helps minimise risks in wind investment

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Two incentives for investment in wind power are being offered by a German project developer and finance company. One is a hedge against the financial risks of lower than expected earnings from wind generation, and the other is a ten year turbine guarantee package underwritten with bank finance. Dubbing these initiatives "profit buffers," Neue Energie Verbund AG (Nevag) has included the risk reducing mechanisms in its two most recent wind farm projects in Jacobsdorf and Güstow.

Nevag was founded in Wiesbaden in late 1998 as a public limited company. Through a share offering it raised nearly DEM 8 million to buy wind project financiers and planners EnerSys and Ventus and wind turbine manufacturer Frisia. EnerSys now has eight wind power stations under its belt. Its subsidiary, EnerSys-BodenWert, with a capital of DEM 5 million, buys or rents sites for wind plants and builds the infrastructure. The rental rate for operators is usually based on projected income from wind generation. With Nevag's new offer, the rental rate will fall or rise depending on profits earned, says Hans Linzbach of Nevag.


Frisia will guarantee 98% turbine availability and 95% compliance with the projected power output curve over a period of ten years-a relatively long time span that is becoming more common in the industry to attract backing from banks. For these projects, Nevag has secured a ten year bank guarantee of DEM 110,000 per turbine at Jacobsdorf and DEM 70,000 at Güstow. The package guarantees punctual commissioning of the turbines as well as insurance and maintenance, says Linzbach.

Frisia, the German agent for Danish turbine manufacturer Wind World until 1997, began designing its own turbine in 1995 and now builds 750 kW and 850 kW variable speed, pitch controlled machines. In 1998, 20 wind turbines with a total capacity of 15 MW left the works in Minden. This year as part of Nevag, the company expects to build about 35, 850 kW machines, mainly destined for Nevag projects. The Jacobsdorf wind station is to comprise 19 of the units; Güstow will have seven. Both wind farms are expected to be built by the end of the year, Linzbach says.

Nevag is also building a 3.1 MW wind station at Grünow, adding to its current total of eight projects with a total installed capacity of about 25 MW (table). More are planned for southern Germany, says Linzbach. He stresses that Nevag is concentrating on inland areas where wind potential is relatively unused and where utilities have a more positive attitude to wind than in coastal areas.

Funds are now being raised for Nevag to expand further and prepare the way for trading in renewables power on an open market, Linzbach says. The company has recently raised DEM 11.5 million through a share issue offered exclusively to the 70 Nevag employees. Another offering of DEM 5.5 million is planned. Nevag expects to buy more companies this year, some of which are likely to be wind stations with sub-optimal financing. The company is also preparing to go public on the Frankfurt stock exchange. Nevag sales are anticipated to reach DEM 50 million in 1999, up from DEM 30 million in 1998. Pre-tax profits last year reached about DEM 2.5 million.

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