WPD Offshore has Denmark’s upcoming tender for the 600MW Kriegers Flak project and the next two tender rounds planned by the French government amongst its priorities, managing director Achim Berge acknowledged speaking to Windpower Offshore.
The company has recently secured project finance for its 288MW Butendiek wind farm. "The team has been working on Butendiek for two years and it’s the first time we have invested as a shareholder in one of our projects through to the construction and operation phase - that’s important to us," said Berge, clearly pleased.
WPD Offshore holds a 10% stake in Butendiek and will be responsible for project management during construction, as well as technical and commercial operation once the wind farm comes online.
Berge says the company has a "broad pipeline of projects" across six European countries. With a wide geographic spread that includes five Scandinavian projects, three in Germany and "at least one" in Italy, WPD Offshore recognises that offshore wind development is a long game.
"In offshore wind it’s not that often – not every year – that we complete a project finance deal," said Berge. "You have to fight a little bit in offshore wind and there are years when we are working on other aspects of a project."
Kriegers Flak & France
WPD Offshore has been involved in the Kriegers Flak region since 2005, in both Danish and Swedish waters. In fact, it submitted an application to build in Danish waters, but agreed to withdraw its application. "We withdrew at the request of the authorities, to make the new tender possible," said Berge, referring to the upcoming Danish offshore bidding round.
The 600MW Kriegers Flak project soon to be put to tender by the Danish Energy Agency is "very interesting", admitted Berge, adding that his company is preparing to bid.
In France, the company has partnered with EDF Energies Nouvelles and Dong Energy to proceed with the Fécamp and Courseulles-sur-Mer projects, both of which enter a formal national public debate phase next month. It is too early to say whether WPD Offshore will retain a stake in either project through construction, but what the Butendiek deal has demonstrated is "that this is now an option for us", said Berge.
WPD Offshore expects to be part of a consortium that will bid for one of two sites due to be included in France’s second offshore wind tender, the Vendée coast site off the island of Noirmoutier. The developer has also been working on "two more" French sites, which it hopes will be included in a third French tender.
Successful completion of project financing for Butendiek should be seen "as a very important signal to the market that Germany’s current system of support for offshore wind is now delivering well", according to Berge.
Indeed, Butendiek is the second German offshore wind farm to finalise project finance in the space of a month, with EnBW announcing last month that financing for Baltic 2 – which it bought from WPD Offshore – was in place.
With last year’s crippling delays in the German offshore wind market due to cable liability issues expected to fade, Berge believes the country’s existing system of financial support for offshore wind should be kept as it is. "It is delivering, and not just for the big utilities, but for developers of our size, too," he says.