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01 11 2005

In late September the European Parliament voted to adopt recommendations made in a report on the increased deployment of renewable energy sources. The report calls for a mandatory 20% of all electricity generation to come from renewables by 2020, rising from a meagre 6% in 2001, which could even increase to 25% under the condition that increased renewables efficiency measures are taken. Few have taken more advantage of the current climate than the Irish energy company Airtricity. In the six years since start-up – with a Eu10 million (£6.8 million) bank loan to build an 18-turbine wind farm in Donegal – Airtricity has grown into one of Europe's leading fully integrated renewable energy companies. With £800 million slated for wind farms in Scotland and a further £800 million committed for the Greater Gabbard project in the Thames estuary, company growth shows no signs of abating. However, if Airtricity is to keep to its plan of continued UK expansion, coupled with a bold $1.5 billion US investment programme by 2010, it may well have to look beyond project finance to fund these programmes successfully. UK: onshore or offshore? 2005 has been a bumper year for the UK wind industry: the gigawatt barrier has been broken, with 1,000MW (megawatts) of wind being installed, and 19 new wind farms, totalling some 500MW will be commissioned by the year-end. High profile projects such as Cefn Croes in mid-Wales and ScottishPower's 97MW Black Law projects have gone some way in helping...