Tuesday 24 April 2018

Amarenco's Mullins progresses talks with institutional investor

John Mullins of Amarenco. Photo: Caroline Quinn
John Mullins of Amarenco. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

John Mullins' solar energy company Amarenco is in the middle of discussions with an institutional investor about raising strategic funding.

If completed, the deal's structure would see the investor take a stake in some of Amarenco's assets and release capital for Mullins' company to use in building out its pipeline in France, the Sunday Independent has learned.

Mullins, the former chief executive of Bord Gais, declined to comment on fundraising but said assets currently being built in France include an 11.6-megawatt project near Beziers and a 30-megawatt project near Gaillac.

He previously flagged the move to tap up institutions in an August interview with the Irish Independent.

"We're now moving into institutional capital, which raises the stakes completely. But you have to show a track record. We're confident we'll be in a position to announce a partner by the end of the year."

Cork native Mullins launched Amarenco in 2013 and has since then raised over €200m in debt and equity. Investors include Irish e-learning guru Bill McCabe.

In addition, Macquarie Bank has committed to investing up to €180m in Amarenco's plans to build solar farms in Ireland.

Mullins said in the summer that he hoped to encourage locals to invest in the operations, allowing them to take up to a 30pc stake in projects.

"We have 37 plants in motion now (in Ireland), which would be about 200MW," said Mullins. "All of them could have an element of community funding if there was enough demand."

"This has worked very well in countries such as Denmark and France," he added.

The outspoken Mullins has been a persistent critic of Irish policy towards solar energy. This country is widely expected to miss its 2020 renewable energy targets and Mullins said last week that he would have three plants ready to go if a subsidy for solar farms was introduced here.

Energy Minister Denis Naughten told the Dail in June that a new support scheme for renewable electricity was set to be introduced next year.

"While no decision has been taken on the precise renewable technologies to be supported, the cost and technical viability of solar photovoltaics (PV), both roof-top and utility-scale, is being examined as part of the assessment process," Naughten said.

"The deployment of solar PV in Ireland has the potential to increase energy security, contribute to our renewable energy targets, and support economic growth and jobs. In addition, solar PV can be deployed in roof-mounted or ground-mounted installations, and in this way it can empower Irish citizens and communities to take control of the production and consumption of energy."

Sunday Indo Business

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