Specialising in the risky side of wind

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A strategic partnership between Daimler Benz Aerospace (DASA) and Bobikiewicz & Partner to develop and finance wind projects is showing its first signs of progress. Construction licences for two wind farms proposed by the partnership in Lower Saxony -- with a combined capacity of 43.5 MW -- are expected to be granted this year.

Planning of the projects, at Neudersum and Borsum in the district of Emsland, is nearly complete. At Neudersum, DEM 63 million is earmarked for a 24 MW wind plant of 16, 1.5 MW turbines. The Borsum project, worth about DEM 52 million, is expected to consist of 13, 1.5 MW units.

The wind farms are the first of DEM 350 million of wind plants Bobikiewicz & Partner is planning through a limited commercial partnership, Regenerative Energiegesellschaft Entwicklung (REG), set up last year to attract private investors. DASA, the aerospace division of Germany's largest industrial group, Daimler Benz, has been involved in wind energy since it absorbed the MBB Group, which developed two designs of wind turbines in the 1980s, the Monopterus and the Aeolus. In 1995, DASA set up a renewable energies project group to develop wind stations. Bobikiewicz was approached to handle the financing side.

"We are pure financiers and raise the capital to carry out the projects at the many sites that DASA has under lease both in Germany and abroad," says Jörg Bold of Bobikiewicz, based in Freiburg. It started business in 1993 as the Büro für Ökologische Projecktfinanzierung (Office for Ecological Project Financing), later setting up an "emissions house" for environmentally oriented capital investment.

The wind projects are carried out with DASA through REG, which became operative in December after investors bought DEM 700,000 in shares. By the end of December subscriptions had grown to their current level, DEM 1.76 million, paid in by 33 investors.

"We set up the firm which will later become the operating company and arrange the financing," Bold says. DASA provides the sites and carries out the project co-ordination and planning -- especially at parish level. Once the planning is complete and a construction licence is granted, REG withdraws, leaving the way open for new investors.

REG receives a lump sum settlement for its services, which is estimated at DEM 0.055/kWh per year, or the gross income from about four months operation of the wind station. Under the success related agreement, DASA's cut is broadly calculated at 2.2% of the net investment, not including foundation and infrastructure costs.

high returns

"The REG Entwicklung fund restricts its activities to the riskiest part of a wind project," says Bold. This involves getting a potential wind site through all the planning and other hurdles so it will be ready for the physical stage -- getting the turbines in the ground. "The work involves a very high risk. If the wind site fails to get a licence, the stranded investment can be large, but if the project succeeds, the returns are high. This is why we keep the investment in planning separate from the low risk business of installing the turbines and operating the wind station," he says.

Once a further DEM 750,000 in capital has been raised by Bobikiewicz for REG, a 33 MW project at Rhede will be started, with a total investment of DEM 88 million, says Bold. Looking further ahead, REG has its sights set on another two locations in Hagen and Nordenham in the rural district of Cuxhaven.

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