Airtricity, the renewable energy company, has entered into an £800m joint venture to develop 400-600 megawatts of onshore wind farm projects in Portugal.
The Irish company, led by Eddie O’Connor, is taking a 90pc stake in the partnership with local company Enerbaca-Energias Renovaveis.
It is understood that the turbines alone will cost around £600m, with labour and land access rights making up most of the rest.
While the company declined to give a breakdown of the way the project will be financed, Airtricity’s projects are typically initially funded by 10-15pc equity, with the remainder comprised of non-recourse borrowing. The partners hope to have the first turbines in full operation by 2009 in the municipalities of Braganca and Vinhais in the north-eastern Portugal.
“We are proud to be able to help Portugal to reach its ambitious target of 45pc of energy consumption from renewable sources by 2010,” said O’Connor.
“It’s our hope that other policymakers in Europe will take note and develop equally supportive renewable energy policies.”
Airtricity, which is 51pc owned by NTR, the utilities conglomerate, said it will spend the next few months installing wind measurement apparatus, applying for grid connections in the region.
This is the group’s first onshore wind farm project in mainland Europe. It is looking to strike similar deals in other parts of the continent.
Mr O’Connor also harbours a long-term ambition of building a pan-European sub-sea electricity supply grid.
The ‘supergrid’ project would initially see 10 gigawatts of wind farms being built in the North Sea and connected to the national grids in Britain, Germany and the Netherlands at a cost of £22 billion.
By Joe Brennan
19 April 2007
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