Tuesday 28 January 2020

UK firm in bid for Gaelectric's cross-border wind portfolio

Gaelectric’s Brendan McGrath
Gaelectric’s Brendan McGrath

John Mulgrew

A major English firm is at the early bidding stage for a huge portfolio of windfarms in the North and the Republic - worth as much as £590m (€690m).

It's understood the company is in talks to take over all or part of Gaelectric's windfarms on the island.

Earlier this year it was revealed that as many as 20 expressions of interest had been received for Gaelectric's windfarm portfolio, which is likely to have an equity value of between €250m (£197m) and €350m (£276m). Gaelectric did not wish to comment.

Any proceeds would be used to further develop Gaelectric's other renewable energy assets and projects, which include energy storage, solar and bioenergy, as well as energy trading.

Earlier this year, the firm opened a 12 megawatt windfarm at Monnaboy in Co Derry.

Gaelectric previously set a target of having 400 megawatts of working windfarms by 2017.

It is understood that parties from the Far East were among those interested in the windfarms, which were also being eyed by European investors.

The company initiated a possible sales process earlier this year, hiring investment bank Rothschild to tease out potential buyers.

Gaelectric has offices in Belfast, Dublin, Manchester and Chicago. The firm, whose chief executive is Brendan McGrath, was founded in 2004 and owns 13 windfarms in Northern Ireland and nine in the Republic.

It was reported that the sale of the cross-border windfarm portfolio had come under pressure amid Brexit uncertainty.

According to one report, sources close to potential bidders of the portfolio had said issues around the volatility of the pound were impacting price.

At the start of this month, one of Gaelectric's biggest renewable energy projects, in Larne, was awarded €8.28m (£7m) of European funding.

The £300m Larne project - the UK's first compressed air energy storage scheme - involves air being stored in engineered salt caverns under high pressure on the Antrim coast before being releasing to drive turbines and create power for the grid.

The EU money will pay for environmental impact assessments, planning and design, it said.

The system could generate up to 330mW of electricity - enough to sustain thousands of homes - for up to six hours and the EU said it will contribute to energy security in the UK and Ireland.

Speaking at the time, Brendan McGrath said: "Larne and Northern Ireland will become the blueprint for CAES (Compressed Air Energy Storage) and the integration of renewable energy sources across the rest of the United Kingdom and Europe."

Irish Independent

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