Wind News Around the World

For the first time, banks are providing financing for an offshore wind farm in the UK while it’s under construction.

10 banks are financing the 270 megawatt (MW) Lincs wind farm off the coast of northeast England, being built by Centrica, Danish utility Dong Energy, and Siemens, says Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

"The commercial appetite for offshore wind is growing despite the ongoing sovereign-debt crisis," says Fraser Johnston, an analyst with New Energy Finance.

The $660 million funding agreement includes HSBC, Nordea Bank, Lloyds and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi. In addition to the banks, the developers are paying about half the costs.

Due to be fully operational early next year, the project will power 200,000 homes.

In related news, private equity firm First Reserve and Spain’s Renovalia Energy will jointly invest in wind farm projects in Europe and North America.

Renovalia Reserve will have about $1 billion to spend with $150 million each from First Reserve and Renovalia, and other investors.

In the US, a 500-mile transmission line has received federal approval from FERC to connect wind farms in the midwest to power markets in Illinois and some eastern states by 2017.

The $1.7 billion Rock Island Clean Line project uses very efficient high-voltage, direct-current lines that can send up to 3.5 GW of wind and other renewables from Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota to communities east.

Clean Line Energy, based in Houston, wants to build thousands of miles of power lines to carry renewable energy and has four projects under development.

Off the coast of Boothbay, Maine, oil company Statoil wants to build the world’s largest offshore floating wind farm. It has already built one off the coast of Norway.

Besides being close to major cities and have strong, steady winds, Maine is considered a prime location for offshore wind projects because of state policy and the University of Maine’s Offshore Wind Energy Lab, where they are working on tools for construction and siting that conflict the least with other uses.

And in Oregon, residents of Sherman County got a $590 check in the mail last Christmas for the third year in a row – their share of the county’s annual revenues from wind. Alaska residents get a check every year from oil revenues, this is a first for wind. Under the county’s agreement with the wind companies, the payments continue until 2025. The very windy county produces 43% of Oregon’s 2,305 MW.

Meanwhile in India, Suzlon Group, the world’s fifth largest wind turbine manufacturer, signed a partnership with CGN Energy – a subsidiary of China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group – to develop 800 MW of domestic and international projects over the next three years. They are looking for the most viable projects at the moment in Brazil, South Africa, India, and China.

China will miss its ambitious offshore wind target of 5 GW by 2015, making its goal of 30 GW by 2020 basically unachievable.

In 2010, four contracts were handed out totalling 1 GW, but construction has yet to begin on any of them. This year another 2 GW of projects were scheduled to be awarded, but that’s been put on hold.

China has only 258 MW of offshore wind installed, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. Apparently, planners simply under-estimated the complexity of building offshore wind farms.

In Vietnam, construction of the 500 MW Mekong Delta Wind Power Centre is underway, the nation’s largest wind farm.

Funded with a $1 billion loan from the US Export-Import Bank and Vietnam Development bank, it will come online in 2015.

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