WindMW completes financing for German offshore wind energy plant

WindMW, which is majority owned by funds managed by Blackstone, has completed financing for the 288 MW German offshore wind farm Meerwind.

According to Blackstone, Meerwind is the largest German offshore wind farm to complete its full financing process and the first to be fully financed by private investors.

The 80 wind turbines wind farm will be situated approximately 50km off the German coast in the North Sea and construction is expected to be completed in 2013. Once finished, Meerwind will produce sufficient wind power to service approximately 400,000 households.

Meerwind is only the second German offshore wind farm to complete its financing, according to Blackstone, and is the first to close under the offshore wind energy programme KfW.

A group of 7 commercial lenders, including Commerzbank, KfW IPEX-Bank, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Dexia, Lloyds Banking Group, Santander and Siemens Bank together with Danish export credit agency EKF and KfW-Bankengruppe, will provide total financing of €822 million (£721m) for the project, with a total investment cost of €1.2b. Blackstone affiliates will provide most of the project’s invested equity.

The investment funds the installation of 80 sub-structures (monopile foundations) with Siemens 3.6MW-120 wind turbines, the laying of infield cables and the installation of the farm’s offshore high voltage substation.

Connection to the main grid, as per German law, will be undertaken by the grid operator TenneT TSO. Peter Giller, a WindMW Board Member, says: “The German government has demonstrated tremendous leadership in supporting private offshore wind development and we are pleased that Meerwind is the first project to reach financial close under the visionary KfW Programme."

Jens-Peter Saul, CEO of Business Unit Siemens Wind Power, says: “The entry of new stakeholders into the offshore wind business will clearly boost the massive development of energy from the sea."

Blackstone has also obtained permission to construct the Nördlicher Grund wind farm. The 64-turbine wind farm with an estimated construction cost of €1.3b will be situated approximately 100km off the German coast in the North Sea. Construction is expected to commence in 2013 with completion in 2016.

WinWinD was founded in the turn of the millennium but its story starts already well before that. During its 10-year-life, WinWinD has grown from a small Finnish company to an established international wind turbine manufacturer and wind energy solutions provider.

The key to success was creating a turbine that would be technically superior to ones dominating the markets. A professional, multi-talented organization was built to stand behind the product. In the first stage of WinWinD’s history, the company focused extensively on the design and development of its technologically advanced wind turbine and was the first market player to have a 3 MW turbine with permanent magnet technology.

The founding father of WinWinD is Mr. Jouko Tiuraniemi, who has 30 years of experience in the field of energy industry. Tiuraniemi made an extensive wind energy market study for Oulu Energy, a Northern Finnish energy company, in 1995 and thus began the history of WinWinD. The experience prompted Tiuraniemi to start thinking about a new, highly efficient wind turbine. He realized that the key to success was not to try to compete on the same terms with the market dominants, but to create a turbine that would be technically superior.

In 1998, Tiuraniemi approached the German consultancy firm Aerodyn with the aim of designing a competitive wind turbine “Made in Finland”. There he met Georg Böhmeke, the head of the design activities who had 20 years of experience in the wind power industry. In parallel, he had contacts to Pohjolan Voima (PVO), a Finnish energy producer, who was interested in wind energy on a general level. Veli-Matti Jääskeläinen, insider of the energy business and chief of PVO’s Engineering department, would later become the Managing Director of the newly founded WinWinD. Böhmeke was appointed Technical Director and Jouko Tiuraniemi Vice President.

A direct drive wind turbine solution was discarded because of its lower economic efficiency, but a medium speed drive train concept seemed promising. After a thorough technical and economic research the Multibrid® model was chosen. WinWinD’s solution is to generate electricity by an integrated power unit, which has a reliable planetary gear and a medium speed synchronous generator. The studies were followed by the detailed design of a one megawatt wind turbine – WWD-1.

The 288MW offshore wind farm Meerwind off the coast of Germany is expected to be completed by 2013.