Wednesday 24 October 2018

Massive Irish wind farm portfolios up for grabs as institutions seek exit

Wind farms attract investors. (Stock image)
Wind farms attract investors. (Stock image)

Gavin McLoughlin and John Mulligan

Two large Irish wind farm portfolios have been put on the market by their owners.

AMP Capital, the co-manager of the State-backed Irish Infrastructure Fund (IIF), has hired Evercore to oversee the sale of 110 megawatts (MW) of wind farms north and south of the Border.

The process, reported in renewables news outlet 'Sparkspread', is code-named Project Tornado. AMP declined to comment. The IIF has a majority interest in the farms, with a minority interest held by Viridian, which is also reportedly considering a sale of its stake. The Republic of Ireland assets are located in Donegal, Roscommon, Sligo and Cork.

Separately, investment giant BlackRock has put up a portfolio of European wind farms and solar parks.

Sparkspread reported that the portfolio includes around 45MW of Irish projects, with the sale process being run by RBC Capital Markets.

An industry source said that the going rate for a megawatt of wind power on a one-year-old turbine was in excess of €2m. The source said the price fetched in each of the sales will depend on the age of the assets in question and the amount of work that might be required to keep them going.

Wind farms have proved attractive to long-term investors like pension funds in recent times, as they are seen as offering decent returns over a long period of time.

One megawatt of wind energy is estimated to be enough to power around 600 homes, according to the Irish Wind Energy Association, meaning the two portfolios between them would be able to power almost 100,000 homes.

Alongside the wind assets, the IIF also holds a majority stake in Enet, the sole surviving bidder for the National Broadband Plan. It is also active in the primary healthcare sector via its Valley Healthcare arm.

IIF principal Philip Doyle recently said the fund was looking at opportunities to consolidate the private hospital market.

"We're considering investing in a range of healthcare infrastructure assets, from elderly care facilities to private hospitals," Mr Doyle said.

"The private hospital space in Ireland is fragmented, and there is an opportunity for a capable investor to consolidate these assets to deliver economies of scale," he added.

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