Spanish power giant Iberdrola steps up investment in Britain

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Spain's Iberdrola, the world's biggest wind-power generator, said Monday it would invest 4.8 billion euros (6.14 billion dollars) in Britain, two-thirds of it in Scotland, through to 2012.

"In the coming years, Iberdrola will intensify its firm commitment to Scotland," he said after a visit by Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond to company headquarters in Bilbao in Spain's northern Basque region.

"This will mean that Iberdola will continue to be a catalyst for development in Scotland and the Basque Country, two lands of great importance for our company and for which we have major plans in the future."

The investment in Scotland will be primarily in wind power, intelligent electricity grids and a carbon dioxide capture and storage facility.

The amount is higher than the 4.5 billion euros that Iberdrola had said in February it planned to invest in Britain during the period as part of total investments of 18 billion euros, including 7.0 billion in the United States.

An Iberdrola spokeswoman said the "adjustment" in the amount to be invested in Britain was due to the "investment opportunities" in the country but the overall amount to be investment in the period would remain at 18 billion euros.

"Britain is for us one of our main areas of investment, after the United States. We feel that market conditions are better in this country," she said.

Britain needs to replace most of its ageing coal-fired and nuclear power plants over the next decade. It plans to generate up to 35 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Iberdrola bought British group Scottish Power for 17.1 billion euros (21.7 billion dollars) in 2007 to create Europe's third-biggest power utility.

Salmond welcomed the news of Iberdrola's Scottish investment plans.

"Scotland is hugely significant within Iberdola's plans for the future and the commitment the company has shown to our country is immensely important," he said.

"With unrivalled energy resources off our coast and a range of wave, tidal and offshore wind development already underway, Scotland leads the way in generating power offshore."

Scotland is home to an estimated 25 percent of Europe's offshore wind and tidal resource and 10 per cent of its wave potential, Salmond said.

Iberdrola has about 1,800 suppliers in Scotland, including renewable development company Pelamis and Scottish Coal.

© 2010 AFP

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