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Winds of change

December 14, 2008

Winds of change at RWE

RWE NPOWER has launched a review of its entire £3.5 billion portfolio of wind farms amid soaring building and financing costs.

It has asked banks, including Royal Bank of Scotland, Citigroup and Dresdner Kleinwort, to pitch for a mandate to find partners to buy into new projects to defray costs.

These include its £2.2 billion Gwint y Mor wind farm off the Welsh coast. The 750MW project, the world’s second- largest proposed offshore farm after the 1GW London Array, was given planning approval this month. The company could sell up to a 49% stake, a spokesman said. Industry sources said Scottish & Southern was the most likely partner after the latter sold a 50% stake in its £1.5 billion Greater Gabbard project to RWE last month.

RWE is not alone in rethinking its approach to wind power due to the soaring cost of capital to finance the projects.

Centrica has hired Credit Suisse to find partners for its £3 billion wind-development plans, but that process has been delayed by the difficult credit markets.

Royal Dutch Shell has quit the UK altogether after pulling out of its two remaining projects –London Array being one of them – in recent months.

James Smith, chairman of Shell’s UK business, told The Sunday Times: “When we think about renewables in the UK, it is going to be biofuels rather than wind.”

For RWE a sale would mark the second time it has divested a stake in a UK offshore project, said Will Ainger, of energy news service SparkSpread.

In 2003 it sold a 66% stake in the North Hoyle wind project to Englefield Capital and Arcapita.

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