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Lawyers continue to play a key role in the renewable energy sector

Posted by: Simon Porter 13/06/16
In the last ten years power generated by global wind capacity has grown six fold to a staggering 433GW. There is no doubt that legal professionals & the role of lawyer jobs have played a key role in the exponential growth of the sector by facilitating complex financing, structuring deals and ultimately helping to take the industry from a niche sector to a major player in the global energy market.

2016 has seen significant activity in both the on and offshore markets. Europe’s largest onshore wind project, Statkraft’s Fosen Complex in Norway, for example, encompasses six individual schemes with a combined capacity of 1000MW, construction is set to begin in Q2 of 2016 and the complex will be fully commissioned by 2020. In the offshore market the remaining few machines at Dong Energy's 97-turbine 582MW Gode Wind 1 & 2 complex in the German North Sea are set to be installed this summer.

Offshore wind remains a relatively young sector, and from a legal perspective requires a lot of negotiation and risk management. Legal teams need to be involved early on in a scheme’s development to help shape the project, provide strategic advice to the management team and begin drafting the supporting documentation. Moreover the complexity of offshore projects often demand tailored contracts. In comparison to onshore, the risks are far greater and developers often want to use their own standardised agreements.

In the US market, the five year extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for renewable energy has enabled the industry to drive down costs, and invest further in research and development. However, a number of challenges face the US wind industry, including growing competition from natural gas and the challenge presented by different regulatory frameworks across individual states.

The continued success of the wind industry will rely not only on the advancement of technology, but also significantly on the lawyers who facilitate the completion of deals and provide legal guidance during a project’s development stage. We will continue to watch with interest as this sector develops within a challenging economic and political environment and will keep you up to date with the opportunities in legal careers that are likely to open up.
Tagged In: Commercial, Global view
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