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Please find below a snapshot of key stories currently being discussed in the wind energy industry.

Alstom plays down $13bn takeover talk

Alstom has moved to quell reports that US conglomerate General Electric (GE) is set to buy the company for $13bn next week.

The French manufacturer's share price jumped 17% at the start of trading yesterday following the reports, but the company has since released a statement saying it “is not informed of any potential public tender offer for the shares of the company”. 

Alstom added that the business constantly reviews its strategic options and would report on its future plans in its annual results on 7 May. GE has declined to comment.

Forewind submits 2.4GW application

Development consortium Forewind has submitted a planning application for its 2.4GW Dogger Bank Teesside A&B scheme.

The consortium, which is made up of RWE, SSE, Statkraft and Statoil, has submitted the application for the project after the Planning Inspectorate accepted its development consent order application. The scheme comprises two 1.2GW wind farms.

This means Forewind now has 4.8GW in the planning system. It submitted a 2.4GW application for its Dogger Bank Creyke Beck plan eight months ago.

Theolia mulls asset sales

Theolia is considering asset sales to help it cope with potential bond repayments of up to €125.8m that are due in January.

The French operator, which runs wind farms totalling 1.2GW, has said bondholders could demand repayment of up to €125.8m on 1 January 2015 and it does not have funds in place to cover these.

Theolia is also considering options including raising capital, issuing new debt with an extended maturity date, and renegotiating the terms of its convertible bonds.

Bonds could help India hit 55GW target

Issuing government bonds could help India cut the cost of green energy and achieve its 2017 green targets, new research claims.

The Climate Policy Initiative and Bharti Institute at the Indian School of Business have said financial instruments to reduce the cost of loans and extend their tenor would help the country to cut the cost of green energy generation by 25%; and achieve its goal of doubling renewable energy capacity by 2017.

India aims to grow installed renewable energy capacity from 25GW in 2012 to 55GW in 2017. Wind power in India totalled more than 20GW at the end of 2013.

Chinese city to start 300MW tender

The government of Chinese city Pinghu poised to start tendering next month for a developer for a 300MW offshore scheme.

The city is planning to develop three offshore wind farms totalling 800MW, and is set to start searching for a developer for the first of these - Jiaxing No 1 - next month.

It is also working on the 300MW Jiaxing No 2 project, where a wind measurement study started in September; and the 200MW Jiaxing No 3, where a wind study will start in June.

Wind Watch

It has been a week of renewable energy doublespeak from the UK government.

If you believe energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey we are now in a “green energy investment boom”. Davey, a Liberal Democrat, said this on Wednesday when revealing eight projects to get support from the Contracts for Difference (CfD) regime. These eight include five offshore wind farms.

But yesterday energy minister Michael Fallon said that the Conservative Party would not subsidise any new onshore wind farms if the party wins the 2015 general election; and came out publicly in support of shale gas and fracking.

Investors would be forgiven for getting confused by the mixed messages. The government is talking about a green investment boom, but then it backs gas over onshore wind.

So what is really going on?

The big myth is that the CfD announcement marks the start of a UK green energy boom. It doesn’t.

The government has confirmed five offshore wind farms that will get subsidies if they happen: Dong Energy’s 1.2GW Hornsea 1, 660MW Walney, and 258MW Burbo Bank extension; SSE’s 664MW Beatrice; and Statoil and Statkraft’s 402MW Dudgeon. 

Naturally it is good to see the government providing support for projects through its CfD regime, but the CfD regime does not mean these projects will definitely happen. It just gives the developers a little more certainty when making decisions about whether to proceed. 

For example, SSE is set to finally decide on Beatrice in 2016.

If anything, the CfD regime just reinforces what the government is already doing. And remember, it is no accident that CfD strike prices are set at levels that favour offshore schemes over onshore.

The Conservatives are still planning a moratorium on planning permission and subsidies for new onshore wind farms if they win the 2015 general election.

The final say on planning permission for new onshore wind farms is still in the control of communities secretary Eric Pickles until then, too.

And the carbon price floor remains frozen, as announced by chancellor George Osborne in his Budget in March. This will slow the UK’s transition to new sources of renewable energy.

So with that in mind, here's what investors should take from all this double talk.

It is bad news for UK onshore wind investors. The CfD announcement made no mention of this market, which reinforces government apathy towards its future development and growth.

However, it is good for offshore investment.  Put bluntly, it demonstrates exactly how UK policymakers want to grow this sector - and how the support mechanisms will pan out.

And for the UK as a whole?

This laser focus on offshore wind reflects a high-risk approach. Yes, it could help UK firms to export products, skills and services overseas.  However, global growth in offshore wind is far from assured.  

And in a market that continues to evolve and adapt, it's an approach that leaves little room for future manoeuvre. 

All the best,

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