Dublin-headquartered solar power developer BNRG is currently raising up to €115m of debt and equity, after doing an asset swap deal with former partner Neoen.
BNRG founder David Maguire said the finance is the first part of its plan to raise €500m in total by 2025. The funding will be invested next year in developing Irish and US assets.
Last year, the firm partnered with Paris-listed renewable energy firm Neoen on a €39m deal for three solar farms in Wicklow, Meath, and Kildare, with a total capacity of 58MW.
They were part of the Government’s Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) 1 support scheme auction in 2020.
Société Générale had provided a non-recourse senior debt facility for that deal, in addition to equity provided by BNRG and Neoen.
Maguire said that, broadly speaking, Neoen has acquired the three RESS 1 developments, while his firm had acquired its former partner’s stake in the remainder of a 250MW solar portfolio, declining to go into further detail.
The two companies previously partnered in a €220m joint venture in 2017, having then planned to develop 200MW of solar power in 23 projects.
Last week, four of BNRG’s Irish solar projects, with a total capacity of 56MW, were approved under RESS 2. Construction of these will begin early next year and will require about €40m of investment.
The Irish firm is also developing solar projects in the UK and Australia, with the potential to invest a further €30m in new ones in the UK.
Since 2007, it has developed 394MW of projects in the US, UK, Bulgaria, Ireland, and Greece.
Maguire is critical of the regulatory and planning environment for renewable energy in Ireland.
“The permit system and interconnection process here are not fit for purpose. Our solar and wind power costs are higher than in the UK or EU. Wind farms are the most profitable, but technology-specific auctions could result in lower power prices for consumers.
“Ireland is a relatively small market, making it difficult to attract big capital providers into the sector, contributing to higher electricity prices.
“We are the most energy insecure nation in Europe – but political will is needed to apply what are relatively simple solutions to most of these issues.”