Markbygden achieves financial close26 March 2018
The first phase of Europe’s most ambitious wind project can now proceed to the main construction stage.
The site for the ‘Markbygden 1101’project is located near Piteå in northern Sweden. It is sparsely inhabited and from an energy point of view has good wind characteristics, two factors that together make it an excellent location for a wind farm.
The 450 sq km site is divided into three areas (see map, right) corresponding to the three phases of a long term operation. Completion of the first phase of 179 WTGs will create the largest single (ie contiguous) onshore wind array in Europe, but if Svevind’s plans come to fruition, there could eventually be a total of 1101 machines erected in the area, making it the largest wind park on the continent.
When fully realised, Markbygden should be able to produce about 10 TWh annually. That corresponds to 6.6% of total electricity production in Sweden, and would increase the installed wind generation component by more than 12.5%.
Its developer, the Swedish company Svevind, has announced that the 650 MW project has reached financial close. It has now been acquired 50/50 by GE Energy Financial Services and Green Investment Group Ltd, part of the Macquarie Group, which will jointly own and operate the wind farm. GE and Green Investment Group have invested more than €300 million in equity and raised around another €500 million in other financing, mainly in debt markets.
The transaction is Green Investment Group’s first investment outside the UK. For GE, it represents GE Capital’s strategy to invest in and structure financing solutions in support of GE in key global growth markets.
GE and Green Investment Group have originated and structured a 19-year fixed volume Power Purchase Agreement with a subsidiary of Norsk Hydro, one of the largest aluminum producers in the world. The PPA enables Norsk Hydro to fix the price of a significant portion of the electricity demand of their Norwegian aluminum manufacturing facilities. NEAS Energy (part of Centrica plc) will provide the structure for the sale of Elcerts (renewable energy certificates), and balancing and hedging services for Markbygden ETT.
Svevind has been developing Markbygden for the last 15 years. It will be constructed on properties owned by Sveaskog Förvaltnings AB, SCA Skogsfastigheter AB, two of the largest forestry landowners in Europe, and several private owners.
Svevind has established other related business activities near Markbygden, such as gravel production for the construction of wind farm roads as well as establishment of local concrete batching plants for the wind turbine foundations. The local nature of these businesses helps to minimise transport costs and environmental impact.
GE Renewable Energy will supply 179 of its 3.6 MW turbines with 137 metre rotors, a turbine well suited for the project site’s wind speeds and climate. Blades will be equipped with an innovative ice mitigation system by LM Wind Power, to help ensure a stable level of availability and reduced downtime.
GE is also providing a 20-year full service agreement, and, through its Grid Solutions business, the high voltage switchgear for two collector substations.
Construction of the wind farm’s infrastructure has already begun, with preparation of about 130 km of wind farm roads, crane platforms, wind farm internal cabling and second level substations. The electrical grid connection to the 130 kV grid of Markbygden Net AB and to the 400 kV grid of the Swedish TSO Svenska Kraftnät is also under construction.