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Ireland’s NTR buys stake in US wind power firm

Irish renewable energy and waste management company NTR Plc has bought a controlling stake in American wind energy developer Wind Capital Group (WCG) for an investment of $150 million, it said.

“NTR has also signed an agreement for the supply of 150 megawatts of GE wind turbines on behalf of WCG for delivery in 2010 to accelerate the build out of WCG’s portfolio of development projects,” NTR said in a statement late on Thursday. Missouri-based Wind Capital Group is developing wind farm projects in eight states across the central United States with a development pipeline of over 2,000 megawatts, of which the first will be coming on stream by early 2010. Irish media also quoted NTR as saying it would close its German unit Emerald Biodiesel Holdings, part of its Bioverda subsidiary. “The tax benefits that applied to bioenergy were removed and the mandate for biodiesel use was also removed,” the Irish Times quoted Finance Director Michael Walsh as saying. “Fundamentally, the industry was rendered unviable,” he said.

A spokeswoman could not immediately comment on that report. Analysts said the closure of the loss-making unit would benefit NTR. “This business has been problematic, and this decision now serves to tidy up the NTR portfolio,” Davy analyst Mark Healy said. NTR is a public limited company but its shares are not listed and are traded over the counter. It employs about 3,300 people and had a turnover of €447 million ($704 million) in 2007.

NTR, which also has operations in the United Kingdom and Spain, announced last week it would invest $100 million in a controlling stake in Stirling Energy Systems Inc, an Arizona-based developer of solar power plants. (Reuters)