ECONOMY

Iberdola signals interest in future Greek power plants

Spanish energy giant Iberdola confirmed yesterday its interest in participating in the tenders of the Electric Power Transmission System Operator (DESMHE) for the building of two power plants with a combined power output of 800 megawatts. Iberdola expressed its interest through its Greek partner, listed firm Rokas, which said it is negotiating with the groups that have obtained licenses to construct big power plants, with a view to acquiring a stake in them. Rokas explained it is discussing «only the acquisition of a majority stake» in one of the five or six companies that have received the building licenses. It stopped short of revealing more details, saying, «We are in talks with all of them.» Rokas also announced yesterday its expansion into Cyprus, where it has founded a 70 percent-owned subsidiary with the rest belonging to a local partner. The subsidiary has submitted applications for wind park licenses, with a total capacity of 180MW. Iberdola owns a 34 percent stake in Rokas, but in the coming months this is expected to increase to 49 percent as provided for by a deal with the Rokas family, the main shareholders. The company will in practice become the Spanish group’s vehicle for investment in Southeastern Europe, although the institutional framework in the region is not considered extremely favorable. For example, in Turkey Iberdola and Rokas have found a local partner, but appear reluctant regarding any further moves. They believe that certain improvements are needed first in the conditions for allocating licenses for the utilization of wind parks or other renewable energy sources. License trading In Greece, too, international groups such as Iberdola and Electricite de France (which has acquired the wind parks and the licenses owned by Ktistor, a Themeliodomi construction company subsidiary) and local players are up against a difficult situation: The previous government, with Nikos Christodoulakis as development minister, had lavishly distributed wind park licenses, so hundreds of licenses went to many hands; they are now selling them like securities as they have neither the know-how nor the capital to invest in creating wind parks. License-holders are reported to be asking incredible amounts of money from domestic and foreign investors for the much-coveted licenses. Having paid just a few thousand euros, they now appear ready to sell their licenses for as much as 100,000 euros per MW. This means that a license for a 30MW wind park could cost up to 3 million euros. Very few sites in Greece are still available for wind parks, as almost every mountain peak has already been allocated a wind park license. The Development Ministry is under pressure to clear up the situation by determining the time limits within which licence owners must proceed to realize the investment, and which should free up some attractive regions for investments in renewable energy sources.