Utility takes 50% stake in German offshore project

Danish utility Energi E2 has stepped into the offshore wind market in Germany by taking a 50% stake in Plambeck Neue Energie's Borkum Riffgrund project. "Energi E2 is a financially powerful partner and also has experience in development and installation of several offshore projects such as the recently commissioned 165 MW Nysted station," comments Plambeck, referring to Denmark's newest offshore plant. Plambeck, a publicly traded wind project developer, has been seeking ways to finance its growth. It says it will receive a "considerable sum" for placing its Borkum Riffgrund rights in the joint venture, with further payments to follow as the project progresses. The first phase of the project, 38 kilometres north of the North Sea island of Borkum, will consist of 77, 3 MW turbines. A construction permit is expected "within the next few months." When complete the project will number 180 turbines. Energi E2's entry as a 50:50 partner could placate nervous analysts. Plambeck is planning to issue convertible loan stock or participation certificates, or new shares to increase the current shares on the market by 50%. The company hopes to get approval for the scheme at an extraordinary shareholders meeting this month. Analysts at HSH Nordbank in Hamburg are sceptical about the strategy, stating it "does little to build confidence." Meantime, Plambeck is inviting bids from turbine suppliers for 400 MW of wind generation. "We are reacting to the great demand for turbines for our future wind station projects," says Plambeck's Wolfgang von Geldern. The order will go to two manufacturers, at most, who will be selected on technical quality and price. The call for bids "is not a framework contract but rather for concrete orders." It expects to pick a supplier or suppliers at the start of 2004.