Netherlands renewable energy developer Econcern announced today that it’s expanding its wind development into China with plans to invest €863million ($1.1 billion) into onshore wind farms in the country. Venture-backed Econcern is teaming up with some big players for the move: CNOOC New Energy, part of state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp., and Sinohydro Renewable Energy, a subsidiary of Sinohydro Corp., another state-owned business.
Econcern plans to build three wind farms with CNOOC New Energy and one with Sinohydro Renewable Energy for a total of over 720 megawatts of wind power capacity. Construction on all four projects is expected to start next year.
China has the world’s fifth-largest amount of installed wind power capacity, according to BusinessWeek, and there’s still room for much more growth, making it an attractive market for companies such as Econcern. Earlier this year, the Chinese government doubled the country’s installed wind capacity target to 10 gigawatts by 2010, with the Guardian reporting that China reached its old goal of 5 GW three years ahead of schedule and that the target will likely need to be doubled again.
Today’s deals appear to be some of Econcern’s first renewable energy projects in China. The company, which also does consultancy work in renewable energy and climate change issues and has its own venture development group, works on projects in wind, biomass, and solar, as well as green buildings.
Econcern’s largest project to date is a 330 MW offshore wind farm that’s expected to go up off the coast of Belgium in the North Sea. That €900 million project is still in the development phase, but it’s scheduled to be operational by 2010.
Econcern back in May raised €300 million in financing when Rabobank and the Delta Lloyd Group came on board as joint investors, with previous investor SHV Holdings also participating in the round. At the time, Econcern said investor Good Energies had sold its holdings in the company. SHV, Rabobank, and Delta Lloyd collectively hold 50 percent of Econcern, with the remaining 50 percent owned by Econcern management and employees.
China’s cleantech sector has been attracting a number of foreign investments over the last few months, including funds from chipmaker Intel and investor Warren Buffett. In October, Intel Capital, the investment arm of Intel, said it would invest in thin-film solar company Trony Solar and large-scale electricity storage specialist NP Holdings, both based in China. And in September, Chinese electric car and battery maker BYD got a boost when Buffett, through a subsidiary of his Berkshire Hathaway investment group, put up $230 million for a 10 percent stake.