This is not surprising. WEG is currently fixing a pitch linkage problem on the MS-3 which means that most of its machines in Britain are currently out of action (Windpower Monthly, February 1994). If Taylor Woodrow was intending to sell WEG, it is likely to have chosen a better moment. "But nobody can say what might happen in the distant future," adds Knight, who is also chairman of WEG. The wind company sold more turbines in the past three years than in the previous decade. Taylor Woodrow backed WEG throughout the period, although British Aerospace relinquished its stake last year and GEC withdrew in 1986. WEG was founded in 1980, equally owned by the three original partners.
There have been recent approaches to Taylor Woodrow from would-be buyers of WEG, but none of these have been regarded seriously. "There is nothing there that I expect to end up with a sale," says Knight. Taylor Woodrow is also a part owner, together with utility National Power, of wind farm developer National Wind Power. There is no suggestion Taylor Woodrow is reconsidering its involvement in NWP, says Knight.
The rumours of a WEG sale were started by the Financial Times on January 25. Reporting on a Taylor Woodrow shareholders meeting, the newspaper angled its story entirely on wind power, conjecturing the company was "reviewing the future" of its involvement in the wind industry and that a sale of WEG would be "the most likely outcome." Taylor Woodrow had told shareholders that it intended to free itself of peripheral activities. The newspaper report began: "Britain's wind power industry may be facing a significant set-back."
Four days later the Daily Telegraph wrote that "wind energy was beset with economic" problems, referring to a proposed pull-out by Taylor Woodrow. The construction company's £66.1 million pre-tax loss in 1992 and modest half-year pre-tax profit of £10.1 million in 1993 seems to have caused the Telegraph to conclude that wind power is in economic difficulty. For an industry receiving a premium payment of £0.11/kWh for the power it produces, this is hard to believe.