It was announced in The Financial Times on September 1st that a Japanese conglomerate named the Marubeni Corporation has paid £200 million to become the co-owner of a UK wind farm. This marks the first equity investment by an Asian enterprise in this sector of Britain’s renewable energy industry.
The agreement with Dong Energy confirmed that Marubeni bought a 49.9 per cent stake in Gunfleet Sands wind farm, located off the Essex coast and capable of generating 172MW.
With offshore wind being the most expensive way of generating electricity, with total costs exceeding £140 per MW hour compared with less than £100 for gas-fired power stations, it is interesting to see that the UK Government has continued to raise its target for this sector.
The Government aims to install 18GW of capacity in British waters by 2020 at a total cost of £100 billion; it is unlikely that all the investment will come from utility companies. So outside players, notably from Asia, are seen as an important way of unlocking the necessary funds.
Masumi Kakinoki, Executive Officer of Marubeni, said his company’s decision to become co-owner of Gunfleet Sands showed the “tremendous growth opportunity” presented by offshore wind “not only in Europe, but in Japan and the Americas as well”.
If outside generous subsidies continue, the UK offshore wind industry can become highly profitable.
Vicky Kenrick is an Advertising and Marketing Communications specialist for international sustainability recruitment consultancy, Allen & York.