Project Merit: Wind Power

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RWE Innogy (Essen, Germany) for its enormous offshore wind power development program. Building on experience from its existing 60 MW and 90 MW wind farms offshore from the United Kingdom, RWE Innogy is building offshore wind plants in Europe with capacity of 1,000 MW and expects to obtain permits for an additional 5 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2014, according to the company.

With significantly higher capacity factors than onshore facilities, offshore wind is expected to constitute most of the growth of European wind power capacity over the next decade, But building offshore wind plants is significantly more expensive, complex and difficult. RWE Innogy's 325 MW Thornton Bank wind farm has been underway since 2009, with completion expected in 2013.

That project represented a milestone in the European wind power market, which is largely balance sheet funded by the energy companies building them. RWE Innogy says Thornton Bank is the largest project financed offshore wind so far, with eight private European banks, the European Investment Bank and German and Danish export credit agencies providing around €900 million.

To develop the engineering and construction capacity needed for its offshore wind development plans, RWE Innogy announced in January 2011 a five-year €50 million partnership with Linnhoff Offshore AG and NSB (both in Buxtehude, Germany). Linhoff will support RWE with port logistics and coordination of activities by sea and air, while NSB will help supervise construction of two installation vessels that RWE Innogy describes as the largest of their kind in the world.

China Longyuan Power, China's largest developer of wind power capacity, achieved a stunning 52% annual growth in installed capacity, exceeding 6.9 GW by June 2011, according to the company's mid-year report. While installed capacity figures for the end of the year weren't available, the company reported that it had received approval for 39 new projects totalling 2 GW. It also reported commissioning the first 99 MW of the 150 MW Jiangsu Rudong pilot offshore wind farm, the nation's largest.

China Longyuan Power is also branching out into other renewable energy technologies. A December 2011 news release reported that the Company had commissioned three PV projects with combined capacity of 58 MW. And in November, it agreed to buy from its parent company, China Guodian Corp, wind energy and biomass assets worth 1.51 billion yuan ($238.2 million)

In 2011, China Longyuan also made its first leap into the global wind energy market, taking an equity stake in Ontario-based Farm Owned Power's 100 MW wind farm under construction in Shelburne, Ontario.