Offshore: Green light for Lincs investment - Centrica sells stake in UK wind farms

The board of UK energy company Centrica has given its approval for a £725 million investment in it 270 MW Lincs offshore wind farm.

Centrica is selling 50% stake in its Lynn and Inner Dowsing offshore wind farm

Construction is expected to start in 2010. Turbine manufacturer Siemens has already been lined up to supply 75 of its 3.6 MW machines. Lincs is sited eight kilometres off the coast of Skegness, Lincolnshire, next to Centrica's existing Lynn and Inner Dowsing wind farms, which have a combined capacity of 194 MW.

By agreeing the investment now, the wind farm will benefit from two renewables obligation certificates (Rocs) for every megawatt hour produced under the UK government's renewable energy support programme. The government decided to raise the level of support for offshore wind earlier this year for a limited period only to encourage investments despite the global recession (Windpower Monthly, October 2009). Lincs is expected to start generating at the end of 2012. When complete it will bring Centrica's wind interests to 650 MW.

Meantime, Centrica has also agreed the sale of a 50% equity stake in its Lynn and Inner Dowsing offshore wind farm and its Glens of Foudland onshore wind farm to US investment management company TCW for around £84 million. TCW is a US subsidiary of French company Societe Generale Asset Management.

In addition, Centrica has concluded agreements to raise some £340 million of non-recourse project finance from a consortium of banks for these assets. The deals value the three wind farms at around £460 million in total, says Centrica. Through its subsidiary British Gas Trading, Centrica has entered into a 15-year power purchase agreement to take all the electricity from the three farms, and half the Rocs generated by the plants.