Dublin-headquartered solar power developer BNRG has signed a €39m deal with Paris-listed renewable energy business Neoen for three projects here, as it revealed plans to raise €500m in debt and equity over the next five years.
Founder David Maguire said the firm, which he established in 2007 and is among the leading solar developers here, had spent the past 18 months throughout the pandemic working on its pipeline of solar energy installations here, as well as in the US, UK, and Australia.
BNRG is set to raise €70m over the next two years, with an ambitious target of €500m in total within the next five years to fund the development and completion of 1.5GW of projects, he added.
Its largest market has been the US, specifically the state of Maine, and the firm has added five people to its 37 staff over the last six months.
Further US solar projects have been developed or are planned in Oregon, North and South Carolina, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
Maguire said: “It is great to see these project finally start construction and reach financial close. We are looking forward to commencing the export of electricity to the grid in the coming months.
"Together with our partners, Neoen, we expect to be among the earliest large utility scale solar projects in Ireland.
“Given this week’s recent IPCC report, and the recent EU Climate Change legislation, the need to rapidly reduce our CO2 emissions has never been more urgent. At BNRG we are actively contributing to the energy transition and to the goal of net zero emissions.”
The three projects here are in Meath, Kildare, and Wicklow, with a total capacity of 58MW – providing enough electricity for about 12,700 homes – and were among the successful applicants in the government’s RESS 1 support scheme auction last year.
They are funded by a combination of equity provided by BNRG and Neoen, as well as a non-recourse debt facility from French investment bank Société Générale.
BNRG currently has 148MW of projects installed, and is on track to complete 2,800MW by the end of 2024.
Its partner Neoen had revenues of €299m last year, and is a growing international player, with over 4GW of wind, solar, and energy storage projects in 15 countries.
Maguire pointed out that there are a number of impediments to lower electricity prices, and potentially increased renewable energy development.
"We need to reduce power grid costs and reform the process of connecting to it, to increase certainty, which would lower our cost of capital.
"The futureproofing required by Eirgrid might be leading to a doubling or trebling of grid costs. Futureproofed and non-containerised substations also increase power costs. Consumers pay for all this through their bills’ PSO levy.
"This is hurting consumers and FDI investors who want renewable energy, but it could be resolved easily with enough political will.
"We’ll fail as a nation to decarbonise and reach our Net Zero targets without these kinds of reforms,” he said.