FPL Energy, Iberdrola Deadlocked in Global Wind Power Lead

U.S. independent power producer FPL Energy and Spanish utility Iberdrola ended 2005 virtually tied for market leadership in global wind power ownership, with each estimated to have 3,260 MW of wind power in service, on a net ownership basis.

The third largest owner of wind farms, Spanish engineering conglomerate Acciona Energia, trails by nearly 1,400 MW despite its recent acquisition of Spanish developer CESA. These were among the key findings of latest wind power market analysis from Emerging Energy Research (EER). Iberdrola and FPL Energy have battled for leadership in global wind power ownership for the last three years. Iberdrola overtook FPL Energy in 2004 after adding 905 MW of new wind farms during the year, but in 2005, FPL added 502 MW to close the gap. Both are neck and neck at year-end 2005, according to EER’s annual Wind Plant Ownership Rankings. EER ranks the global top 20 wind farm owners, on a net-ownership basis, which together account for approximately one-third of wind power capacity worldwide. Babcock & Brown, an Australian financial firm, experienced the most dramatic growth in 2005 via acquisition and the fruition of earlier investments in the U.S. and Spain, the year’s two hottest markets. Babcock & Brown rose to the fourth largest wind farm owner in 2005 after not making the top-20 in 2004. “A new breed of investment firm-backed wind players is evolving that aims to assemble a regional or even global project portfolio,” said Keith Hays, EER Director of Global Wind Power Research. Acquisitions by Electricidade de Portugal, Gas Natural of Spain, and Swedish utility Vattenfall elevated all three into serious contenders while the consolidation of Danish energy companies DONG, Elsam, and Energi E2 resulted in a top-10 presence. “With greenfield opportunities becoming much more difficult to find in Europe, M&A activity in the wind energy sector has shown no signs of slowing down,” Hays said, referring to mergers and acquisitions. US Market Growth Shifting Ownership Patterns Strong growth in the U.S. market will continue to provide opportunities for FPL Energy to vie for global market leadership in 2006, and for others to emerge onto the global wind power scene. Both the U.S. and Canada experienced record installations of wind power plant in 2005, but an even bigger boost is expected in 2006 when new installations in North America will grow by more than 50%, according to EER’s study. “While FPL has long dominated the U.S. market, a cast of well-financed and experienced players are emerging,” said Godfrey Chua, EER’s U.S./Canada Research Director. Among those expected to increase share, according to Chua, are Horizon Wind Energy, owned by Goldman Sachs; PPM Energy, owned by ScottishPower; and AES Corporation, the large U.S. independent power producer. According to EER, new wind power plant installations in North America are expected to surpass 4,000 MW in 2006, compared to 2,700 MW in 2005, and may grow by nearly 6,000 MW per year by 2010 if the U.S. government continues with favorable regulatory policies. EER tracks wind plant ownership globally as part of its Global Wind Energy Advisory service. Rankings are based on an aggregated ownership of wind farms in service on a net equity ownership basis; wind farms in service are measured by rated capacity. More information about EER’s Wind Plant Ownership Rankings, and more information about EER’s 286-page market study, released in December 2005, can be found at the company’s website link below.
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