Dutch utility Essent expands wind interests in Germany

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Dutch utility Essent says it plans to increase its wind capacity in Germany and the Netherlands by 700 MW by 2010 and expand further into the French and UK wind markets. In Germany, it intends to add 400 MW to its portfolio from 50 projects on land planned by its German subsidiary, Deutsche Essent, doubling the 380 MW it currently owns in the country, most of which was gained via its acquisition of wind developer Winkra in 2002. "The wind development situation in Germany isn't as bad as it seems. There are plenty of areas," says Essent's Paul van Son. In the Netherlands, Essent plans to add 300 MW of wind to the 100 MW it already owns. One of the projects, to be sited near Groningen, will be as big as 100-200 MW, while others are slated for five to ten turbines. Despite the focus on its two traditional markets, Essent also expects to see stronger wind market growth in the UK and France, says Van Son. In addition, it hopes to secure further offshore sites in the North Sea and Baltic Sea. The utility already has a 400 MW project permitted in German waters at a site near Helgoland. Construction is expected to start after 2008. "Essent is healthy and strong and can shoulder the investment," says Van Son. Essent does not use project finance for wind projects, he adds. Reflecting its increasing commitment to wind energy, Essent's German and Dutch wind activities are to be bundled into Essent Wind under the roof of Deutsche Essent in Düsseldorf. Winkra is to be renamed Essent Wind Deutschland and local business in the Netherlands will be carried out by Essent Wind Nederland.

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