Italy's largest windfarm gets financial lifeline

SARDINIA, ITALY - EDF Energies Nouvelles has come forward as the saviour for Italy's largest planned wind project, the 98.9-megawatt (MW) Monte Grighine windfarm in the western part of Sardinia.

The renewable arm of the French utility has decided to take a 50% stake, worth 63 million euro (US$86 million), in the facility from Danish wind energy outfit Greentech Energy Systems A/S.

Construction of Monte Grighine began in 2007 but has been dogged by delays because of a lack of funding. Greentech announced that it had found a mystery backer at the start of the month but details of the agreement have only just been released.

The deal not only saves the Monte Grighine facility but also gives EDF an important foothold in key Italian wind projects, as the company also has the option to take a 50% equity stake in every project from Greentech's pipeline in Italy and Poland, which represents approximately 850 MW. This also applies to all other projects that will be developed by Greentech and reach the "ready to build" stage by the end of 2012.

"This transaction opens the door to a fruitful and successful relationship," said David Corchia, Chief Executive Officer of EDF Energies Nouvelles. "Greentech not only has a portfolio of high quality projects, but also comprises a very professional and open-minded team. This transaction shall enable Greentech to complete the construction of the flagship Monte Grighine project. It is for us an excellent opportunity to strengthen our position in Italy and accelerate our development."

Kaj Larsen, Chief Executive Officer of Greentech, said: "We believe that this strategic and constructive partnership with EDF EN will support our ongoing development of our project pipeline and help secure our future operations. The strategic partnership will enable Greentech to develop and operate projects in a pace and a magnitude which otherwise would not have been possible in today's market."

The Monte Grighine facility will use 43 Nordex wind turbines for a total installed capacity of 98.9 MW. This windfarm is under construction, and the commissioning is expected to take place by the end of the year.

The cash injection will allow Greentech to complete the construction of two other Italian windfarms, Cagliari II and Minerva Messina. The 24-MW Cagliari II project is an extension to the existing Energia Verde windfarm on Sardinia, which has been in operation since 2007. Minerva Messina is a 48.3-MW project near Randazzo in northeastern Sicily.


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