India vs. France for a piece of Germany

The sun never sets on Suzlon's wind energy empire.

Published May 10, 2007 5:05PM (EDT)

Areva, a state-owned French nuclear-power company, and Suzlon, an Indian wind-power company, are in a takeover battle for REpower, a German wind-power company. Until recently, Suzlon, which has emerged out of practically nowhere in the last couple of years to become one of world's biggest manufacturers of wind-power equipment, was thought to have the upper hand in the battle for REpower. But the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as president of France may throw a spanner in the windmill works. The outgoing French finance minister was keeping a lid on Areva's bid, but Sarkozy's new government is expected to feature FranC'ois Fillon as prime minister, and Fillon, reports the Financial Times, is "totally convinced" that Areva must win the bid.

The mixture of French presidential politics, renewable wind power, India and Germany is just the beginning of this global economy snapshot. Suzlon is based in the southern Indian city of Pune, but has chosen to run its international business headquarters in Denmark, and operates manufacturing facilities in the U.S., China, India, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. It recently announced winning its largest contract so far, an order for 400 megawatts of wind turbine capacity for PPM Energy, of Portland, Ore. Incidentally, PPM Energy's parent company, Scottish Power, merged in April with Spain's Iberdrola, making it a piece of a conglomerate that is one of the largest producers of renewable energy in the world.

Dizzy yet? I am. When India battles France for a German possession and Spain nabs Scotland in pursuit of an American asset, we see the old contours of North/South and East/West relationships being redrawn. And while wind power is currently only responsible for about 1 percent of worldwide electricity production, capacity has quadrupled in the last six years and is on a steep growth curve. As this brief dip into the roiling turbulence of corporate wind power empire-making reveals, plenty of money is being bet on a breezy future.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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