Business Irish

Monday 18 November 2019

ESB poised to buy into €2bn Scots windfarm

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John Mulligan

John Mulligan

THE ESB could announce plans within weeks to buy a 50pc stake of a massive offshore windfarm project in Scotland that's set to be developed at a cost of more than €2bn.

While the ESB has declined to comment, news agency Bloomberg reported that the Irish semi-state utility remains in advanced talks to buy the stake in the Neart na Gaoithe project from Electricite de France.

Electricite de France (EDF) acquired the Neart na Gaoithe project from Ireland's Mainstream Renewable Power last year for more than €600m. Mainstream was founded by energy entrepreneur Eddie O'Connor.

The valuation placed on Neart Na Gaoithe last year was significantly more than that placed on it in 2016, when Mainstream pulled plans to offload the asset.

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The Neart na Gaoithe windfarm project is construction-ready and is set to be commissioned in 2023. It will generate up to 450MW of electricity - enough to power 375,000 homes.

An acquisition by the ESB of a stake in the project would mark a significant deepening of the utility's presence in the UK. It already owns power stations and wind farms there, while it also has a nascent presence in the consumer electricity retail market. The group aims to have 100,000 domestic electricity users in the UK by the end of this year.

No final agreements have been reached between EDF and the ESB for the stake, and talks could still be delayed or fall apart, according to people familiar with the deal. EDF also declined to comment.

Offshore wind developers typically share the costs and risks associated with the development of capital-intensive facilities at sea.

Additional reporting Bloomberg

Irish Independent

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