SCOTTISHPOWER’S first offshore wind farm performed well beyond expectations in the opening quarter of this year as the generator and its Spanish parent company benefited from increased earnings on renewables.
Iberdrola – which has the largest renewable asset base of any company in the world – raised core profits by 8.8 per cent during the three months to March with a strong performance by its international network and renewable energy businesses. This offset weakness in the utility’s home market, which has been hit by increasing regulation and Europe’s economic crisis.
Its UK division, ScottishPower, delivered increased earnings driven in large part by its £1.6 billion West of Duddon Sands wind farm.
The 389 MW offshore installation was fully completed in October, and is generating 56 per cent of its theoretical maximum output. This compares to an average load factor of less than 33 per cent across ScottishPower’s 1,417 MW onshore wind portfolio.
It was the “stand-out performance” of the period, ScottishPower chief corporate officer Keith Anderson said.
“Offshore wind is now coming into it own with the power produced from the new wind farm at West of Duddon Sands ahead of expectations in the first quarter of this year,” Anderson said. “This shows the potential of offshore wind now that we are able to use larger turbines and better technology, which we will advance further with other new offshore projects, notably the 714 MW East Anglia wind farm in the North Sea.”
Earnings from ScottishPower’s renewable arm rose to £107 million during the quarter, up from £66.8m in the same period a year earlier. Across the whole of Iberdrola, earnings from renewables rose by nearly 25 per cent on gains from the UK, Spain and Latin America.
ScottishPower’s network business, which holds transmission licences in Scotland, North Wales, Merseyside and Cheshire, generated earnings of £222.6m. This was up from £181.4m a year earlier.
Earnings in the supply and generation business rose from £163.5m to £173.5m, driven in part by an 8.2 per cent rise in demand for gas amid cold weather.