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Utilities Moving into Prominent Role as Driving Force for Industry Scaling Up

Most of Europe’s utilities have now taken position on the wind energy value chain as they comply with national renewables targets, while some have also taken the initiative of seeking international expansion with this newer generation technology.  To maximise profitability, utilities have steadily migrated from risk-averse turnkey project acquisition, to greater vertical integration with in-house teams for development, and operations and maintenance (O&M).  Strategies devised by these players for meeting their objectives have largely depended on their experience in the sector as well as on their desire to expand geographically.

Utilities adopting a ‘green’ strategy are among the few European wind players that combine in-house experience and sufficient balance sheet to ramp up capacity on a pan-European level, whilst risking project development in less mature markets to sustain growth in the portfolio.  These utilities have generally originated from countries with more pro-active renewables policies, including Spain and Denmark.   

Another set of utilities have taken on a more gradual approach to adding wind into their generation portfolios.  These players from Portugal, Italy and Germany have moved into neighbouring markets and looked to build wind alongside thermal plants and have made major acquisitions to support growth while following green utility strategies of building up internal teams for more vertical integration.  

A third set of utilities, mostly working with conventional energies, has remained more domestic-focused.  Whether due to lower resource conditions, such as in central European countries, or a lack of scale to pursue larger opportunities, these players tend to focus on national compliance.  

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