CEZ has entered the French renewable sector after picking up nine wind farms for an undisclosed sum from German manufacturer ABO Wind.
In a statement issued on June 6, the Czech conglomerate said the assets were spread across six French regions and were all in “advanced” stages of development. CEZ added the farms could sustain 100 MW of installed capacity between them within five years, and would benefit from a guaranteed feed-in tariff (FID) for 15 years.
“With similar acquisitions in countries with stable regulatory environments, we continue to fulfil our [renewable] strategy,” CEZ said.
The acquisition comes after a CEZ board member, Tomas Pleskac, suggested on May 25 that the firm would soon tie up the purchase of an unidentified German unrenewable plant. CEZ still largely depends on lignite-fired power plants in the Czech generation segment, despite moves to offload coal operations to local mines in recent years. In April, a report compiled for the Norwegian oil investment fund noted that CEZ, along with Germany’s RWE, was the least prepared out of Europe’s major utilities for the low-carbon transition.
To improve its green credentials, CEZ wants to add 400 MW of renewable capacity by 2020 to its existing portfolio of 3,500 MW. It aims to generate 3 billion koruna (US$128.3 million) of operating profits from renewable sources by that same year.
France wants renewables to account for a 40% share of electricity generation by 2030, up from around 11% at present. It had the fourth biggest wind farm fleet in Europe at the end of 2015, with 10,358 MW of capacity, behind Germany (44,900 MW), Spain (23,025 MW) and the UK (13,603 MW).
Previously, companies in the French renewable industry had felt overshadowed by national nuclear company Areva, and had complained of the increasing regulatory burden on their wind operations. But with Areva awaiting a government bailout worth up to 10 billion euros (US$11.2 billion), the renewables sector has successfully argued that Paris should capitalise on plummeting costs for wind turbines and solar panels.
In 2015, France’s renewable output grew by around 23% on the back of an additional 1,000 MW from wind farms and 900 MW from solar plants, according to data cited by French diplomats last year. Wind producers received further good news in April 2016 when French legislators sunk proposals to double the distance permitted between wind turbines and dwellings to 1 km.