Investors warming up to German offshore wind plants

Thu Sep 25, 2014 7:23am EDT
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* German offshore plants attract new investment

* Offshore energy a key component in switch from nuclear

* Start-up costs high, but returns are attractive

By Christoph Steitz

FRANKFURT, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Germany's offshore wind parks, once seen as only for brave investors because of high costs and operational risks, are attracting fresh money after laws were passed to ensure ambitious renewables targets are met.

British investment firm Laidlaw Capital bought its second German offshore wind park project two weeks ago, following a landmark German offshore wind acquisition by Canadian energy group Northland Power.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government has made offshore wind a priority in the country's "Energiewende", which moves Germany towards alternative energy sources after a decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022.

Germany needs at least 20 billion euros ($26 billion) to achieve its aim of expanding offshore wind capacity to more than 10 times its present capacity by 2020. Attracting new investors is crucial to help power producers to shoulder the cost.

As part of the country's new renewable law, investors can now look forward to guaranteed feed-in tariffs of 19.4 euro cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) over a period of eight years for offshore, better returns than for solar and onshore wind power.   Continued...