Czech state-controlled energy company CEZ said on August 27 it had sealed a deal to buy two Romanian wind energy projects which, when completed, will be the biggest land-based wind farm in Europe.
CEZ, the largest power producer in central Europe, said it bought the twin projects, based near the Black Sea city of Constanza, from international wind power development company Continental Wind Partners LLC.
The Czech power company said its eventual 1.1 billion euro (US$1.6 billion) investment in the projects will result in the largest onshore wind farm in Europe with a generation capacity of 600 megawatts.
Construction of the wind farms should start next month and they should be producing power by the end of 2010, CEZ said.
CEZ which has been expanding in central Europe in the past years has been active in Romania since 2005 when it gained a majority stake in distributing company Electrica Oltenia. The deal means the Czech company is a long way along the road to achieving its target of having 1,000 megawatts of wind power production capacity across Europe by 2020.
CEZ currently has no wind power plants in its home country but around 80 projects in the pipeline which have won the necessary planning permission. It wants around half of its future wind power expansion to take place in the Czech Republic.
The cash rich company is heavily reliant on aging coal and nuclear power plants for more of its electricity production with coal-fired plants accounting for 56% and nuclear around 40% of electricity produced last year. But it is keen to change that, in the light of EU moves to boost the proportion of power produced from renewables sources and slash that from burning fossil fuels in an attempt to curb climate change.
CEZ already figures among Europe's top 10 electricity companies in terms of production capacity and turnover. It has rapidly expanded in recent years across central and southeastern Europe, buying up power plants and distribution companies with the avowed aim of becoming the biggest player in the region. It also wants to expand into Russia.
The group made a profit of 42.8 billion koruna (US$2.6 billion) in 2007.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008