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China buys $800m stake in UK wind farm

By Cecily Liu in London | | Updated: 2017-12-21 01:02

State-owned conglomerate China Resources National Corp agreed on Tuesday to buy a 30 percent stake in a British offshore wind farm for 600 million pounds ($803 million), the latest in a series of Chinese investments in the United Kingdom's offshore wind sector.

The company is buying part of the Dudgeon wind farm, which is off the Norfolk coast. Statkraft, Norway's largest power producer, is selling the stake as part of its scaling-down of investments in offshore wind projects and its switch in focus to hydropower.

The remaining 70 percent stake in the Dudgeon wind farm is owned by Norway's Statoil Wind and Abu Dhabi-based Masdar. Both Statoil Wind and Masdar will remain as investors.

"China Resources National's investment in Dudgeon makes sense strategically," said Daniel Brenden, a senior power and renewables analyst at BMI Research. "Gaining expertise from British offshore wind projects will allow it to contribute toward China's ambitious offshore wind program."

China has set itself the target of installing 5 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2020. The UK, already a world leader in offshore energy with 5.1 gigawatts of capacity, plans to grow its holding to 10 gigawatts by 2020.

China Resources National's purchase, which will require approval from the Chinese government, is the latest in a series of Chinese purchases in British offshore wind projects.

Last year, China's State-owned investment holding company State Development and Investment Corporation acquired the UK wind power activities of Spanish energy company Repsol, for 238 million euros ($282 million). And, in 2015,China Three Gorges bought a 30 percent stake in the Scotland-based Moray Firth offshore project, from Portuguese developer EDP Renovaveis.

China Resources National will structure the purchase as a consortium involving three of its subsidiaries, including Hong Kong-listed China Resources Power. A spokesman for that company said the deal will allow it to establish "a platform for cross-border expansion into European markets and make a debut investment in the European offshore wind energy sector".

China Resources Power, which has no offshore wind projects, operates 5,330 megawatts of onshore wind farms in China. China Resources National has operations in the power, consumer products, real estate, cement, gas, pharmaceuticals, and finance sectors.

The UK government is keen to engage with Chinese offshore wind opportunities. Earlier this year, the British innovation agent Innovate UK funded the launch of a new platform to support UK companies providing technical solutions to wind farm issues for Chinese partners.

The Carbon Trust, a non-profit organization funded by the UK Foreign Office, also drew up recommendations for Chinese wind sector development, with the support of 20 Chinese companies.


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