Bruised Acciona seeks global partner

Spain’s Acciona confirmed it is talking to possible partners about taking a minority stake in its international renewables business, as it set out the way through what the company’s CEO called one the most challenging periods in its history.

Acciona today unveiled a net loss of €1.97bn ($2.7bn) for 2013 as regulatory changes in its home market forced it to take a €1.68bn hit on the value of its renewable energy assets.

Acciona said reforms to the Spanish energy market directly cost it €257m in 2013, and led to the huge goodwill write-offs and impairment charges on its domestic wind power interests.

The company made it clear that its priorities lie outside Spain, and confirmed it is in negotiations with possible minority partners for Acciona Energy's international renewables business. Reports have suggested it is seeking to sell up to 49%.

Group chairman José Manuel Entrecanales said the process is progressing “satisfactorily” with interest from “highly reputable global investors”.

Acciona believes the extra financial resources of a major partner will help it to make the most of growth opportunities in the global wind market.

It also wants to work with partners at project level, and said its future as a developer would be either in partnership or as enabler of projects for third-party owners.

The Spanish group said its Acciona Windpower turbine manufacturing unit is on course to make a positive Ebitda contribution in 2014.

Its 3MW turbine is ”now a proven and competitive product”, it claimed, with a 12-month redesign effort leading to a 13% reduction in cost of energy.

Acciona now plans to push that COE reduction to 25% by the end of 2014, measured against 2012. It said this makes it competitive in key emerging wind markets such as Brazil – where it is already a major player – South Africa and Turkey.

It said Acciona Windpower has a full order book for delivery in 2014-15 of 1.1GW, plus another 500MW in late-stage negotiations.

The international strategy would help mitigate the group’s exposure to its domestic market, where its operating wind base has been hammered by regulatory changes that have imposed new taxes and retroactively changed support.

Acciona said the biggest impact of the changes has been on wind capacity commissioned before 2005, which will lose 50% of its income. Almost 40% of Acciona’s capacity comes into that category.

Some 9.6TWh of its wind generation came from Spanish turbines last year, compared to 6.4TWh abroad.

The company’s executives believe wind is taking a disproportionate share of the pain in the Madrid government’s efforts to close the country's so-called “tariff deficit” – and that it is unfair that those who took the risk at the early stage of Spain’s renewables build-out are suffering the most now.

Entrecanales claimed the impact of the reforms left Acciona “facing challenges seldom seen in its 100-year history – and believe me we have seen some rough times”.