independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Eddie O'Connor's Mainstream to invest €3bn in green energy projects overseas

Eddie O'Connor, boss of Mainstream Renewable Power
Eddie O'Connor, boss of Mainstream Renewable Power

Eddie O'Connor's Mainstream Renewable Power has announced plans for €3.1bn of new green energy projects in four countries.

The planned projects in Canada, Chile, Scotland and South Africa will have a combined output of more than 1,000 megawatts, or enough to power a half-a-million homes, the company said.

The planned schemes are in addition to six wind power and solar power projects that are either in operation or under construction.

Energy sector veteran Mr O'Connor set up Mainstream in 2008, having successfully developed Airtricity and sold the business to SSE for €1.4bn.

Mainstream develops energy production capacity and said it would complete funding and construction on the eight new "utility-scale projects" this year.

AMBITIONS

Mainstream secured €100m of investment from Japan's Marubeni last year, bring total investment in the company to €385m.

It has ambitions to become the world's largest independent renewable energy company, and is eying a potential stock market floatation as early as next year.

The new projects are a 450-megawatt wind farm off the coast of Scotland, a 360-megawatt wind and solar farm in South Africa, 170 megawatts of solar and wind capacity in Chile and a 46-megawatt wind farm in Canada.

The Neart na Gaoithe scheme 15.5km off the coast of Scotland is expected to reach "financial close" later this year; financing and planning permission for the other seven projects is now in place, the company said.

"We are now entering a very intensive growth phase," Mr O'Connor, pictured right, said.

Furniture giant IKEA is already committed to buying the new Canadian wind farm once it is in production, which is expected to be in November this year, and Mainstream will continue to operate the project after the sale. The same retailer has also signed up to buy a wind farm being developed here in Ireland by Mainstream.

At home, Mainstream has plans to develop wind farms in the midlands and to export green energy to the UK through grid interconnectors.

In December, Mainstream set up a new financing arm, Mainstream Capital, which will raise money for individual projects from the likes of infrastructure funds and institutional investors.

Irish Independent

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