Utility sneaks up on plant ownership -- RWE subsidiary active

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Major German energy company RWE has indirectly made its first substantial wind investment through the development of a 6.75 MW wind plant by a distant subsidiary. HEC Pro Wind, a 100% subsidiary of Harpen Energie Contracting (HEC), which is owned 72% by RWE and 23% by coal company RAG, has built nine NEG Micon 750 kW machines at the Elisenhof wind station, at Bad Wünnenberg near Paderborn in North Rhine Westphalia. A tenth unit, an Enercon E40 500 kW turbine, is to be added, says HEC Pro Wind's Ulrich Reiner.

Pro Wind was founded in September on the initiative of HEC -- and with the blessing of RWE -- shortly after the development rights to the Elisenhof station were bought from a group of farmers. HEC has moved into wind energy as a logical extension of the renewable activities of parent Harpen, says Reiner. Harpen has 24 small hydro stations abroad, of which 18 with a combined capacity of 57 MW are located in France, three amounting to 12 MW are in Portugal and another three plants totalling 12 MW are in Italy.

HEC Pro Wind expects to commission a 6 MW wind station in North Rhine Westphalia later this year and has projects in the pipeline for 2002. "There are still lucrative sites at inland locations to be found if you look hard enough," says Reiner. "They are usually small, but it helps if several locations can be found close together," he adds. HEC Pro Wind may also look into potential sites at disused mines of RAG, a minority stakeholder in Harpen.

Parent company Harpen is also developing wind projects abroad. In November it brought a 13 MW wind station on-line at a site in Spain near Zaragoza, which it says has potential for 100 MW. The projects are financed with one-third of the capital put up by the developer and two-thirds loaned, according to Harpen, which also has plans for Portugal.

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