RWE Seeks Partners for Clean-Power Projects as Finances Strained

RWE AG, the German utility that announced a reduction in clean-power investments this week, will seek partners for its wind and hydropower projects as constrained finances threaten growth.

The company may reduce its 50 percent stake in the Galloper wind farm under development off southeastern England to 25 percent, Paul Coffey, chief operating officer of RWE’s Innogy unit, said today in London. It’s also seeking investors for the Nordsee-1 wind venture being built in the German North Sea.

Innogy said yesterday it will spend less than the 500 million euros ($680 million) it planned in 2014 and shift its focus to project development from investment. Like other utilities in Europe, Essen-based RWE has seen profit margins squeezed as the expansion of renewable energy pushed down power prices and costs for infrastructure upgrades climbed.

“The need to invest in Europe far exceeds the balance sheet of traditional utilities,” Coffey said. “In the past we would want to be 100 percent owner of projects or at least majority owner. But that’s not realistic going forward.”

RWE Innogy will develop projects to the stage where they’re approved and ready for sale, and use the proceeds for new ventures, it said. The company will seek investment from other utilities, municipalities and potentially pension funds.

RWE has already sold wind-farm stakes to Greencoat U.K. Wind Plc to raise cash. France’s GDF Suez SA, Iberdrola SA of Spain and Denmark’s Dong Energy A/S also have divested assets to weather the weaker market.

Partnerships Sought

RWE is seeking partnerships for about 700 megawatts of onshore wind under development in Europe, as well as U.K. hydro plants. It may also reduce its ownership of the proposed Triton Knoll wind farm off eastern England, Coffey said.

Innogy invested 766 million euros in the first three quarters of 2013, down from 859 million euros a year earlier.

“Despite the financial constraints, the model we’re seeking to implement still allows us to scale and grow,” Coffey said today.

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