GE Energy Takes Equity Position in Ocean Energy Company

UK-based Ocean Power Delivery (OPD), the company behind the Pelamis Wave Energy Converter, received a major vote of confidence this week as U.S. industrial giant General Electric took an equity position in the company.

GE’s Technology Lending unit is providing capital to OPD, developer of the world’s first commercial facility that will generate electricity from offshore ocean waves. The transaction, made in conjunction with GE Energy Financial Services, extends a loan facility of $2.6 million (GBP 1.5 million) to the company. Additionally, GE will take an undisclosed equity position as part of OPD’s $22.5 million (GBP 13 million) equity raise as OPD prepares to deliver on its first commercial contract for a wave power farm. “Renewable energy is of global importance, and GE’s commitment helps us to develop and commercialize new and improved wave energy technology,” said Richard Yemm, Managing Director of OPD. “We look forward to exploring additional opportunities with GE’s cleaner energy initiatives.” OPD developed the Pelamis Wave Energy Converter, which generates 750 kilowatts (kW) of electricity from offshore wave motion. The company’s first order is from a Portuguese consortium that will install the system to generate enough electricity to meet the demands of more than 15,000 Portuguese homes while saving more than 60,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, compared to equivalent fossil fuel generation. OPD expects to install and commission the first stage of the project during the summer of 2006. “This transaction is another example of GE’s ongoing commitment to companies that are developing new, environmentally beneficial technologies,” said GE Technology Lending’s Mark Huang. James Kim of Technology Lending added, “OPD clearly is a leading innovator in the emerging field of ocean-wave energy generation, a fact validated by the company securing the world’s first commercial order in the sector.” The move comes at a time when GE is expanding its financial services unit and specifically those in the division that serve the renewable energy market. Estimates of annual global renewable energy investment requirements range from $20 billion to $30 billion, excluding large hydroelectric plants. Energy Financial Services is seeking to grow its renewable energy investments to more than $3 billion by 2008. “We’re expanding our renewable energy team to take advantage of a perfect nexus of positive developments in relative costs, technology, regulations and public opinion,” said Kevin Walsh, Managing Director and leader of GE Energy Financial Services’ renewable energy team. “This nexus propelled our renewable energy portfolio growth during 2005 by 40 percent, to nearly $1 billion.”
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