E.ON is on the hunt for “large-scale projects” of at least 100MW, Woodson says, adding that “bigger is better”. Bigger projects allow us to take advantage of economies of scale — build them cheaper and operate them more efficiently.
“We’re intending to take real advantage of the next four years and the [wind production tax credit] PTC window,” he adds.
Through its Climate & Renewables unit, E.ON is already a top-ten owner of US wind capacity, with more than 2GW on its books in seven states.
“We’re not bound by geography,” Woodson says. “We see some markets with great growth profiles and good offtake opportunities”, he says, pointing “in particular” to those areas covered by PJM, the grid operator for the Mid-Atlantic region and parts of the Midwest.
The company is also studying the nascent US offshore wind market “very hard,” Woodson says. E.ON is the second-largest player in offshore wind globally, after Denmark’s Dong Energy.
“There are still some questions that have to be answered about the US offshore market, but there are some spots that have real potential,” he says.
Woodson acknowledges that E.ON’s financial problems in Germany — the company has spun off its legacy fossil-fuel generation business into a separate company — puts a limit on the speed it can move in the US.
As part of a global company, “you’re going to have to face the realities of [your] other businesses,” he says. “And certainly there’s an effect on overall capex spend. But I think we’ve demonstrated that we’re a disciplined company and we’ll protect the returns of our shareholders and investors.”
That said, Woodson adds with a smile, “it wouldn’t hurt our feelings if we had a few extra billion dollars laying around.”