Sussex Coast E.ON in €1.9 Billion U.K. Wind Farm Bet

As part of its shift in focus to renewable energy, Germany's largest utility is adding a new wind farm to the seven it has already built since 2007. This one has 116 turbines generating power off the British coast.
E.ON sees opportunity in Britain.

Taking advantage of strong winds and financial support across the English Channel, E.ON plans to build a new wind farm off the British coast.

The new Rampion park will cost an estimated €1.9 billion, or $2.16 billion. The Düsseldorf-based energy group will cover the lion's share of the cost of €1.57 billion. Britain's Green Investment Bank will pick up the remaining €330 million.

Under the plan, E.ON will install 116 wind turbines in the English Channel, 13 kilometers (or 8 miles) off the coast of Sussex. With total generating capacity of 400 megawatts, the turbines are expected to produce about 1,300 gigawatt hours of electricity a year – enough to supply electricity to 300,000 households.

E.ON has already invested more than €9.5 billion in the sector since 2007.

The size of the investment underscores E.ON's intentions of becoming a dominant player in the renewable energy sector.

E.ON has already invested more than €9.5 billion in the sector since 2007 and, as a result, has become the world's third-largest operator of offshore wind farms. The group has built seven wind farms with a total output of 1.2 gigawatts. Additional turbines with a capacity of 507 megawatts are under construction at the Humber Gateway wind farm in Great Britain and the Amrumbank West project in the North Sea.

In the Rampion project, E.ON will handle the construction, operation and maintenance of the turbines, and will also provide energy management services. The company will also be responsible for connecting the wind farm to the grid via underwater cables. That task will require installing about 26 kilometers of terrestrial power lines and building transformer stations on land.

E.ON will sell this grid connection once the wind farm is complete, ultimately reducing the total investment to about €1 billion.

Like the energy transformation underway in Germany, E.ON is transforming itself into a company focused on renewable energies that will be decentrally produced. In its home market, the company will operate power grids and distribute electricity to its roughly 30 million customers.

By the end of the year, E.ON plans to spin off its power plants into a new company, Uniper. The project requires the company create a new legal, accounting and staffing framework.

Despite the group's net debt of about €33 billion, Johannes Teyssen, the chief executive of E.ON, aims to make what he calls "targeted growth investments," with offshore wind farms being a primary one.

 

132 WTB 2014

 

Jürgen Flauger covers the energy market for Handelsblatt. To contact the author: [email protected]