French gas company Gaz de France has signed a contract to acquire a 95% stake in Erelia, a developer and operator of wind farms in France. The operation is expected to be finalized during the fourth quarter of 2007.

By 2012, Gaz de France (GDF) wants renewable energy-based power plants to account for 20% of the group’s electrical capacity in Europe, focusing primarily on the development of onshore wind power.

Erelia, which is planning to develop a further 300MW in France over the next four years, will strengthen this commitment and comes on top of the rapid development of the other subsidiaries of GDF, which aims to have 2,000MW of wind power facilities in Europe by the end of 2012.

The acquisition is in line with GDF’s sustainable development policy, working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop the use of renewable energies in order to combat global warming.

Francois Pelissier, chairman of Erelia, said: We are delighted that Gaz de France is backing Erelia. Its support shows that the professionalism of our teams and the strength of our development have been recognized by a major energy group with a very strong focus on the development of renewable energies. Gaz de France will provide us with its industrial capabilities and significant support for the implementation of our projects, while ensuring the long-term viability of our business model, which is based on very strong regional partnerships.

Jean-Francois Cirelli, chairman and CEO of GDF, added: Gaz de France will be able to see a strong rate of growth in its installed capacity over the coming years. As of the end of 2009, we will be able to use our own facilities to generate around 10TWh of electricity, representing the consumption for three million of our natural gas heating customers.