Foreigner bids for projects in Denmark

Negotiations are well advanced for the sale of 50 brand new wind turbines on Danish soil to an owner outside the country. It is the first time that wind turbine projects in Denmark could be owned by a foreign investor. That investor will profit from sales of electricity to Danish consumers who are required by law to buy wind power at a price fixed by government.

All restrictions on who may own turbines in Denmark were removed a year ago as part of the broad reform of the wind market. Until that point local ownership of local turbines was a central part of national policy for subsidised wind power development.

The foreign sale is being bartered by Jysk Vindkraft, the country's major independent wind project developer (page 34). The turbine projects in question had initially been sold to Danish investors to take advantage of transition arrangements for moving existing turbines from the old market of fixed price tariffs to the proposed new market for green power trade. Under that transition wind turbines contracted before January 1, 2000 receive a higher price for the first years of operation before moving into a two part green power market (main story).

The Danish energy ministry, however, has ruled that the 50 turbines were not legally contracted for by the cut off date. The decision follows investigations into Jysk Vindkraft's business approach after a citizen's action group, Neighbours to Wind Turbines, accused the company of fraudulent behaviour (Windpower Monthly, November 2000). Jysk Vindkraft had established 30 wind turbine co-operatives in late 1999 and placed orders for a large number of turbines. It sold shares in the co-operatives over the following months. Of the 157 of these projects called into question, 69 have been approved as eligible for the higher tariff, and 50 rejected.

As a result of the rejection, the co-operatives which own the projects will receive the DKK 0.43/kWh available to "new" turbines instead of the expected DKK 0.60/kWh for "existing" turbines, an effective loss to each of DKK 1.3-1.5 million (EUR 175,000-202,000).

Jysk Vindkraft has appealed the energy ministry's decision with the backing of the wind turbine owners association which says the company pursued normal business practice for setting up co-operatives. If that appeal, which was due to be heard in late October, fails, Jysk Vindkraft is prepared to buy all 50 projects from the involved co-operatives and sell them to "a major buyer within the EU." The company's Mogens Poulsen declines to name the buyer.

Selling the projects outside Denmark is not likely to be difficult. Green power not tied up in subsidy arrangements is a scarce commodity in Europe, and there are green power marketers anxious to secure supplies for companies eager to do their bit for the environment. In the Netherlands, demand for green power from consumers far outweighs supply (page 45).