Wind-farm operator reveals a problem — not enough wind

A wind farm operator has encountered a problem: not enough wind.

John Laing Group JLG, -5.67%  , the U.K. infrastructure investor, has put on ice its investments in renewable energy projects in Europe and Australia because it isn’t windy enough.

Olivier Brousse, John Laing’s chief executive officer, said: “We experienced operational performance issues on our wind assets, mainly driven by low levels of wind.”

Brousse said that meant that its windfarms aren’t generating as much power as expected. Shares in the company were down 5.57% at 359.6p in late afternoon trading in London on Thursday.

The comments were made as John Laing reported an 80% plunge in first-half earnings. Pretax profit for the six months ending June 30 fell to £35 million ($ 42.5 million) from £175 million a year earlier, when it benefited from a one-off gain of £87 million from the sale of an asset.

Profitability was hit by £66 million in writedowns on the company’s renewable assets in Australia because of transmissions problems, as well as a £55 million writedown in Europe because of the lack of wind.

However, John Laing said it had completed a £75 million investment in a U.S.S wind farm post-period and has made its first foray into Latin America where it invested £62 million to buy a 30% stake in a Colombian road project.

A new study published in the journal Energy Policy earlier this month showed around 54% of Europe’s landmass was unsuitable for wind power generation because of infrastructure or restricted land areas, but the remaining 46% of European landmass – around 5 million square kilometres – was suitable for wind farms.

The analysis, from the University of Sussex and Aarhus University identified that Turkey, Russia, and Norway as having the biggest potential for future wind farms. Large swaths of Western Europe were also ideal because of favorable wind speeds and flat areas.

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