Monday, December 28, 2009

Aruba's New Windfarm - How to keep on financing wind farms when banks have no money left.

A new wind farm set up in Aruba shows how good choices lead to an excellent power source. While in most places the wind is gusty and unpredictable, certain places have very predictable winds. In this case the wind farm was set up on the eastern end of Aruba which gets consistent trade winds, which are highly regular and almost always in the same direction (allowing to put the turbines very close to one another). This wind farm has one of the highest capacity factors in the world, with 50% more power output per turbine than European offshore windfarms.

The wind farm was installed in September (4 months ago) and is already providing 20% of the islands power needs.

The wind farm directly replaced oil fired turbines that used to provide the electricity for Aruba. Hence it directly improves their environmental footprint.

The financing is very simple due to the predictable nature of this wind source. The utility buys the electricity from the wind farm at a fixed price over 15 years which is roughly equivalent to what it costs to produce electricity from their traditional (dirty) generators with oil prices at $45/bbl.

Banks are engaged in a massive deleveraging exercise right now. New lending activity is therefore much more scrutinized from a risk perspective. Read more on the financing here: How to keep on financing wind farms when banks have no money left.

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