GE delivers largest onshore wind farm in Europe

GE and Green Investment Group Limited, part of Macquarie Group, have partnered to deliver and operate 650-MW of onshore wind through the Markbygden ETT wind farm in Northern Sweden. The project will be the largest single site onshore wind farm in Europe, increasing Sweden’s installed wind generation by more than 12.5 %.

GE Renewable Energy to provide 179 of its 3.6-137 wind turbines to Markbygden ETT wind farm, currently the largest single site onshore wind installation to be delivered in Europe. The completed project will ultimately deliver 650-MW of onshore wind through the Markbygden ETT wind farm in Northern Sweden.

The equity partners raised approximately €800M in financing and have commenced construction of the project, which is expected to begin commissioning turbines in the second half of 2018 and be fully operational by the end of 2019.

GE Renewable Energy will supply 179 of its 3.6 MW turbines with 137 meter rotors, a turbine ideally suited for the project site’s wind speeds and climate. The turbine blades will be equipped with an innovative ice mitigation system by LM Wind Power, ensuring a stable level of availability and reduced downtime.

GE is also providing a 20-year Full Service Agreement, and through its Grid Solutions business, will provide the high-voltage switchgear for two collector substations at the wind farm.

“We are excited to have been chosen by Svevind to contribute to this massive project,” said Pete McCabe, President & CEO of GE’s Onshore Wind Business. “Markbygden ETT marks our commitment to the Swedish onshore wind arena and extends our presence in Europe while showcasing our technical capabilities – with LM Wind Power – and project development and management differentiators.”

Project financing
GE Energy Financial Services and Green Investment Group have jointly acquired the project from Svevind and invested more than €300M in equity to finance the wind farm. The transaction is Green Investment Group’s first equity investment following its acquisition by Macquarie and its first investment outside of the United Kingdom.

For GE, it represents GE Capital’s strategy to invest in and structure financing solutions in support of GE in key global growth markets.

Edward Northam, Head of the Green Investment Group in Europe, said: “This project is a landmark transaction on many fronts and represents the new frontier in European onshore wind. It demonstrates that in the right market, with the right location, the right technology and the right partners, it is possible to develop and attract private capital into new onshore wind farms.”

The sponsors’ financial advisory teams sought a mix of funding from development institutions, the export-credit market and commercial banks familiar with the Nordic energy market. The project was financed on a non-recourse project financing basis with close to €500M in debt financing secured from European Investment Bank (EIB), Export Credit Guarantees of the Federal Republic of Germany (Hermes Cover), NordLB (acting as MLA advisor and ECA bank), KfW IPEX-Bank and HSH Nordbank.

GE and Green Investment Group originated and structured a 19-year fixed volume Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with a subsidiary of Norsk Hydro, one of the largest aluminum producers in the world. The PPA enables Norsk Hydro to fix the price of a significant portion of the electricity demand for their Norwegian aluminum manufacturing facilities, producing approximately 100,000 tonnes of aluminum per year. NEAS Energy (part of Centrica plc) will provide an innovative structure for the sale of Elcerts (renewable energy certificates), balancing and hedging services for Markbygden ETT. The PPA is understood to be the largest corporate wind energy PPA in the world.

Green Investment Group conducted a green impact assessment on the project, using the green reporting approach set out in its Green Investment Handbook.

The Markbygden ETT project was developed over 15 years by Swedish wind developer Svevind. In total, its development work in the Markbygden area may lead to 1,101 wind turbines becoming operational, in what would be the largest collection of wind farms in Europe. The project will be realized on properties owned by Sveaskog Förvaltnings AB, Sweden’s largest forest owner, SCA Skogsfastigheter AB, the largest private forest holding in Europe, and several private property owners.

“Having worked on the development of the Markbygden cluster of wind farm projects since 2002, Svevind is very excited to see this partnership with GE Renewables, GE Energy Financial Services, and the Green Investment Group come to fruition,” said Wolfgang Kropp, CEO of Svevind. “We are pleased to see the success of our hard work demonstrated by the attention the Markbygden ETT project has attracted from world class institutions such as these.”

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