France's largest independent electricity and gas supplier, Poweo, has agreed to buy Espace Eolien Développement (EED), a privately owned wind project developer and consultancy, as part of its strategy to become a fully integrated operator with a mixed portfolio of conventional and renewable generation. A pioneer on the French wind market, EED has developed 207 MW in France, representing nearly 14% of the country's total installed capacity and has more than 700 MW under development, including 254 MW on its own account. The purchase allows Poweo to control the complete chain, from development to operation, and will enable the company to diversify into photovoltaic, biomass and hydro generation. So far Poweo has just 3 MW of wind power under its belt, part of the recently commissioned Aubin plant, with another 10 MW to start turning at Boulay in early 2008 (Windpower monthly, January 2007). The company is targeting 600 MW of renewables production by year-end 2012, of which 400 MW will be wind generated. In the run up to the EED deal, Poweo strengthened its ties with Austria's national electricity operator, Verbund, which increased its share to 20.3% and will up it again to 24.7% in October 2008, with 20.5% to be held by private investors and the remaining shares floating on Euronext. Verbund also owns a direct 40% stake in Poweo Energies Renouvelables, the company's dedicated renewables arm. Apart from giving Poweo easier access to capital, the partnership allows the two companies to exploit synergies in energy sourcing and to secure new generation capacity in France in preparation for the opening of the retail electricity market on July 1.
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