Business Irish

Thursday 8 December 2016

Chinese firm set to finalise stake in Gaelectric assets by early December

Published 24/11/2016 | 02:30

Gaelectric chief executive Barry Gavin
Gaelectric chief executive Barry Gavin

The sale of a majority stake in 200 megawatts of wind power assets owned by Gaelectric to China General Nuclear Power is expected to be complete within about two weeks, it's understood.

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The sales process has been under way since the beginning of this year, when Gaelectric sought out expressions of interest for either a stake in, or a complete acquisition of all its operational windfarms.

Gaelectric has a portfolio of 23 operational and under-construction wind farms in Ireland.

Proceeds from the sale could be used to further develop Galectric's other renewable energy assets and projects.

Last year, Gaelectric signed an agreement with Irish firm Oriel to develop a 15MW offshore windfarm in the Irish Sea at a cost of €80m. That's part of a much bigger planned project called the North Irish Sea Array, which could eventually extend to being a significant 870 megawatt windfarm.

Gaelectric is also developing a major energy storage project in Larne in the North.

The project involves the creation of two vast storage caverns more than 1.4km beneath the Antrim coast.

The scheme, which uses compressed air, will be able to generate up to 330MW of power for up to six hours, and will create demand for 200MW of power during its compression cycle.

Last week, Gaelectric opened a 9.2 megawatt windfarm in Co Antrim - its fourth operational asset in the North.

In October, Gaelectric picked China General Nuclear Power as the preferred bidder for a majority stake in its windfarm assets. It's thought that Gaelectric will continue to be the operator of the assets.

The Chinese firm saw off rival bidders including US investment firm I-Squared Capital, which acquired Northern Ireland-based power firm Viridian in April for €1bn.

Gaelectric's chief executive is Barry Gavin. He succeeded co-founder Brendan McGrath in the post last September.

Existing shareholders in Gaelectric include US private equity giant Lone Star.

It acquired an 8pc stake after the American firm acquired debts owed by Gaelectric's co-founder, Eamonn McGrath, to IBRC.

Gaelectric has a target of having 400 megawatts of operational windfarms by 2017, including the ones in which the Chinese firm is talking a stake.

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