E.On has bought the US generating assets of Airtricity in a $1.4 billion deal that will make the German utility one of the largest wind farm operators in the world. The deal is also one of the largest ever in the wind power sector and will give E.On a strong position in the renewable energy market outside its traditional European territory.

Airtricity says that the sale of its North American business unit will support the ongoing development of its European business, in particular the construction of the world’s largest offshore wind farm in the North Sea. The deal will increase E.On’s worldwide installed wind power capacity from 640 MW to 850 MW and gives the company considerable development potential in what is one of the world’s most attractive markets for wind energy.

The $1.4 billion deal, which includes around $553 million net debt, follows E.On’s recent acquisition of Energi E2 Renovables Ibéricas in Spain and Portugal.

Airtricity North America currently operates wind farms with 210 MW of installed capacity and is active in nine US states. It also has around 880 MW of projects that are expected to be operational by the end of 2008, 1000 MW of projects in an advanced stage of development and over 5000 MW of projects in the early development stage.

The Airtricity North America windfarms that are either operational or under construction boast excellent locations and load factors, according to E.On. The 1000 MW of capacity that are in an advanced stage of development will require $3.5 billion of investment over the next three years.

The US wind power market is one of the most attractive in the world, according to Ernst & Young’s Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Indices. The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2007 and is subject to regulatory approvals.