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UPDATE 1-Who's afraid of Big Oil? Not us, says German renewables firm wpd

Wed, 7th Oct 2020 16:19

* Wpd has 19.85 gigawatt renewable project pipeline

* Cites decades of experience

* Wpd is active in 25 countries, including Taiwan
(Adds company spokesman on valuation)

By Christoph Steitz

FRANKFURT, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Wpd, owner of Germany's
second-largest pipeline of renewable energy projects, says its
manageable scale and decades of experience make it well-placed
to fend off looming competition from oil majors entering the
sector.

Facing pressure from shareholders worried about the climate
impact of fossil fuel and from a fall in oil and gas markets
linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, oil majors including BP
and Shell are seeking to accelerate a portfolio shift
towards greener fuels.

Hartmut Broesamle, wpd's chief operating officer, said that
is easier said than done.

"Onshore wind is a small-scale and labour-intensive
business," he told Reuters, adding that such operations would be
more challenging for larger corporations.

"You need people on the ground who believe in the cause or
experts with a lot of experience in the area of wildlife
conservation," he said, adding that it took decades to build
these teams.

Founded in 1996, wpd has grown its pipeline of onshore,
offshore and solar projects to 19.85 gigawatts, making it
Germany's second-biggest behind that of RWE.

The group, which is co-owned by its two founders, is active
in 25 countries, with France, Germany, Sweden and Taiwan among
its largest markets.

"The oil majors' market entry is driving the sector. I'm
happy about every additional euro that flows into renewables and
not into developing new oilfields," Broesamle said.

He said investor interest was higher than usual at the
moment, adding that it was coming from established players such
as pension funds, insurers and municipal utilities.

Wpd runs and owns most of its projects, with the exception
of offshore wind, where co-investors are needed for expenditure
of usually more than 1 billion euros ($1.18 billion) per farm.

The company, which financial sources say is worth 4-5
billion euros, is selling assets in Canada, Finland and Sweden
to fund growth, Broesamle said, adding that the U.S. offshore
market was not attractive because of very high prices for wind
territory.

A spokesman for the company declined to comment on the
valuation estimate.
($1 = 0.8496 euros)
(Editing by Barbara Lewis and David Goodman
)

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