German utility RWE enters French wind market with deals for 450 MW

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Germany's second largest utility, RWE, has entered the French wind market, signing framework agreements with two firms to co-operate on projects totalling 450 MW. RWE's renewables arm, Harpen, will be the developer. The two local companies are based in Normandy and Picardy in north west France and the other in Languedoc-Roussillon in the south west. Harpen's Thomas Kemper says the two French companies do not wish to be named, adding that the 450 MW is made up of a number of small projects of up to 12 MW each. The first projects are due on-line in the autumn. "With the new legal framework for wind energy in France we are making efforts to build up a significant portfolio," says Harpen managing director Bernd Widera. Since 1998 Harpen has built 18 of its 24 small hydro stations on foreign soil in France, but with little potential to expand hydro, wind power moves to the fore, says the company. Harpen's five year business target is to build up its renewables power station fleet to over 600 MW, from about 100 MW of largely hydro capacity, says Kemper. Aside from the 450 MW in France, the company also has 160 MW of wind under development in Italy. Harpen, based in Dortmund, is 95% owned by the major multi-utility RWE Group. All RWE's renewables activities are run by Harpen, including the Elisenhof 7.3 MW wind station in Germany, and in Spain, the 13.5 MW Grisel plant and the Bulugueira 2 MW project (also known as Alto Tamega).

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