Iberdrola to Invest $8B in U.S. Clean Energy

Iberdrola Renewables, one of the largest owners and operators of renewable energy facilities in the world, announced yesterday its plans to invest $8 billion in American renewable energy by 2010. A large part of the money will go to expanding Iberdrola’s wind energy capacity, but the company also said it intends to invest elsewhere in American clean energy.

The company says it already operates 2,400 megawatts of wind turbines in the United States with plans to boost that to 3,600 megawatts by the end of the year. The company says it aims to control a 15 percent share of the American wind industry by 2010, and is already the world leader in installed wind capacity with over 7 gigawatts of installed capacity. Iberdrola jumped ahead of the former leader, Florida-based FPL Energy, last year with the help of an extra 1.45 gigawatts it acquired when it bought ScottishPower’s wind assets.

Iberdrola’s big move into U.S. wind is part of a growing trend of foreign firms buying into the U.S. wind boom. According to Clean Edge, Iberdrola’s North American headquarters in Radnor, Penn., has plans for 22,000 megawatts of new wind power in the U.S.

With Iberdrola’s new investment, perhaps America can achieve the potential for wind to power 20 percent of the U.S. by 2030, an ambitious scenario proposed by the Department of Energy’s recent report.

But beyond wind, what are Iberdrola’s other clean energy intentions? The company is no stranger to solar thermal installations, with projects in Spain and Egypt, and it could become yet another big power player moving into the American southwest. The company has also started to dabble in wave energy with PowerBuoys from Ocean Power Technologies. Meanwhile, Iberdrola’s acquisition of ScottishPower gave it more hydroelectric assets, further diversifying its portfolio.

While Iberdrola says it will invest the bulk of the money in wind, it’s clear the company could make a big play in a variety of other sectors as well. Iberdrola Chairman Ignacio Sanchez Galan said he sees the United States as Iberdrola’s most exciting market. And we’re sure many of the cleantech startups will be eagerly looking to form partnerships.

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