Uncertain future for Bard's 400MW Veja Mate

Quick sale to another developer, urged by Lower Saxony politician

The number of obstacles standing in the way of timely construction of Bard's second offshore wind station, the 400MW Veja Mate project, have been proliferating.

Last month, the European Commission announced that Veja Mate is on the reserve list for several million Euros-worth of NER300 funding, having lost out in the race for top-ranking to RWE's Innogy Nordsee 1.

Even if Innogy Nordsee 1 were to fail to meet final requirements for NER300 funds, Veja Mate might not be in a position to receive funding instead. As previously reported by Windpower Offshore, Bard has ongoing financial difficulties and has been looking for a strategic partner for more than a year. As a result, it could fall foul of an NER300 funding provision that excludes companies if they are bankrupt or being wound up.

Another difficulty relates to Bard's failure to make progress with its 6.5MW turbine. Offshore wind projects in the running for NER300 funds must feature a minimum turbine size of 6MW. Bard's standard offshore turbine model is just 5MW. It has two prototype 6.5MW nacelles under test on land "but these are not functioning well," said Olaf Lies, deputy chairman of the opposition Social Democrat Party in the state of Lower Saxony, where Bard is based.

Sale of Veja Mate

"The company can be reproached for not pushing ahead with the development here," said Lies, speaking with Windpower Offshore. "The turbines could be built by another company," argued Lies, whose main concern is to protect jobs in, and attract investment to, Emden and Cuxhaven, where Bard has turbine assembly and foundation manufacture works respectively.

Lies wants to see construction of Veja Mate begin as quickly as possible to ensure follow-up work for staff at Bard's production facilities. Bard's first offshore wind station, the 80-turbine 400MW Bard Offshore 1, is currently under construction. It is owned by Unikredit Bank. Ongoing uncertainty about Bard's future is "dramatic," says Lies.

The politician is calling for federal or Lower Saxony state guarantees - or additional cheap loans from the German support bank KfW - to facilitate a quick sale of Veja Mate to an investor able to press ahead with the project. Lies alleges that the conservative CDU-led Lower Saxony government has not kept a close eye on developments at Bard, despite around €200m in state funds having been spent on port facilities, partially aimed at meeting Bard's needs.

He also said that a "hive-off company" should be established to ensure that any skilled workers losing their jobs with Bard are provided with temporary work in the region to ensure they can be re-employed within the offshore wind industry when the overall economic outlook for offshore wind improves.

A further complication for Veja Mate is that its construction permit, granted in Sept 2009, expires if installation of turbines does not begin before 31 October 2012. Bard may need to apply swiftly for a permit extension. Other developers have been successful in securing such extensions.

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