Siemens wins 288MW turbine order for Germany's Meerwind

Siemens has bagged an 80-turbine order from US private-equity firm Blackstone for the Meerwind project in the German North Sea, strengthening its claim as the offshore wind sector’s newly-dominant player.

The 288MW Meerwind – comprising two adjacent zones and set to be Germany's largest offshore facility – is being developed by Bremerhaven-based WindMW, which is majority owned by funds managed by Blackstone.

That makes the deal Siemens’ first turbine order from a private-equity house.

The turbine contract was finalised after Blackstone nailed down €1.2bn ($1.7bn) in financing, becoming the first developer to reach financial close under German development bank KfW’s aggressive new offshore wind programme.

A group of seven commercial lenders – comprising Commerzbank, KfW IPEX-Bank, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Dexia, Lloyds Banking Group, Santander and Siemens Bank – working together with Danish export-credit agency EKF and KfW Bankengruppe, will stump up €822m for the project.

Various Blackstone affiliates will provide the invested equity, with the project’s initial permit holder, Windland Energieerzeugungs, kept on as a “partner”.

The financing covers 80 of Siemens' 3.6MW turbines, infield cables and an offshore substation. German-Dutch grid operator TenneT – which recently awarded major offshore grid contracts to Siemens and ABB – is legally responsible for linking the project to the mainland.

Meerwind will be built 50km from the German coast and 23km north of the island of Helgoland, which will house a service station for the project. It will become the largest German offshore wind farm upon its completion in 2013.

Separately, Blackstone announced it has acquired the permits to build the 64-turbine Nördlicher Grund wind farm in the German North Sea, with construction at the €1.3bn project slated for completion in 2016.

“The German regulatory framework is well designed and essential to the development of the tremendous and as-yet largely untapped resource that offshore wind represents,” says David Foley, chief executive of Blackstone Energy Partners.

The order is yet another feather in the cap of Siemens, which unveiled plans yesterday to split its wind division from its other renewables activities in order to accelerate industrialisation.

Meerwind represents Siemens’ sixth German offshore wind project, following Baltic 1, Baltic 2, Borkum Riffgat, Dan Tysk and Borkum Riffgrund 1.

While Vestas has historically dominated the market for offshore wind turbines, Siemens recently surpassed its Danish rival to become the market leader.

Karl-Erik Stromsta, London

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