RES secures financing deal for Hill of Towie Wind Farm

The arrangement with Lloyds Banking Group and BNP Paribas for construction of the wind farm is the first large scale project to benefit from the EIB Intermediated UK Onshore Wind Power Scheme.

The Banks have established a Portfolio facility to support RES as it seeks to develop and own a pipeline of up to 300MW of wind farm projects in the UK and France over the next three years. Further wind energy projects are expected to be added to the portfolio throughout the course of 2010. The total long term project finance facilities for Hill of Towie were £76m, with a debt tenor of 17 years. Lloyds Banking Group will act as Agent Bank to the Portfolio and BNP Paribas as Issuing Bank.

Hill of Towie Wind Farm, at 48 MW, will be RES’s largest onshore wind powee project in the UK to date. The wind turbines project will be constructed and owned by RES, using I&H Brown Limited of Perth to undertake all the civil and ancillary works. The project will use 21 Siemens 2.3MW wind turbines, which are due to be delivered in summer 2011, and the power will be purchased by Scottish Power.

Hill of Towie Wind Farm is expected to be fully commissioned by spring 2012, following the National Grid’s queue advancement process, which saw the grid connection date brought forward from 2018. Once operational, Hill of Towie will make a significant contribution to Scotland ambitious renewable energy targets.

It will provide clean, green electricity equivalent to the needs of approximately 26,000 homes, a third of the households in the Moray region. RES is proposing a community fund of approximately £50,000 per annum and is in the process of forming a Community Liaison Group to discuss the mechanism for distributing these funds.

Eversheds, McGrigors and Garrad Hassan acted for RES and Norton Rose, Shepherd & Wedderburn, Sgurr, Willis and PKF acted for the Banks.

Gordon MacDougall, RES UK & Ireland Chief Operating Officer, commented: “Hill of Towie is one of the first major wind projects to be financed following the well documented difficulties in the financial markets. This financing demonstrates that robust, well developed projects can again secure financing, and provides positive signs for the industry as a whole. The wind farm will make a further important contribution to Scotland’s renewable energy capacity and security of supply. We look forward to welcoming Hill of Towie into RES’s growing portfolio of operational wind farms.”

Andreas Nauen, CEO of Siemens Wind Power, said: “We are very pleased that RES has chosen Siemens as supplier of the wind turbines for the Hill of Towie wind farm, says Andreas Nauen, CEO of Siemens Wind Power. It underlines the good relation between our
companies since many years. The project will provide Scotland with more renewable and clean energy and also secure jobs.”

Oliver Alexander, Senior Director, Renewable Energy, Lloyds Banking Group, commented: "Lloyds Banking Group has been the long term banking partner to RES for many years and we are now absolutely delighted to be able to put in place this new Portfolio Facility that we hope will support RES to grow its UK & French wind generation business over the medium term. This transaction demonstrates the Banks commitment to financing quality renewable energy projects and businesses, such as RES, through the economic cycle".

Nick Gardiner, Director, Renewables, BNP Paribas, commented: "BNP Paribas is delighted to partner with RES and Lloyds in the financing of the Hill of Towie project with the potential to develop further wind projects in the UK and France within this financing structure. We are particularly pleased to utilise the EIB funding mechanism for the project – the first large scale project to do so. BNP Paribas, embracing the renewables team from Fortis Bank, is a leading financier of European renewables and the UK market is an important growth sector.

Simon Brooks, European Investment Bank Vice President responsible for lending operations in the United Kingdom said: "The European Investment Bank congratulates RES in proposing the Hill of Towie wind farm as the first individual project to be eligible to receive part of the GBP 700m EIB financing for onshore wind projects announced last October and intermediated by 3 partner banks,. The EIB’s contribution to transforming wind energy generation in the United Kingdom is a core element of our support for renewable energy technology across Europe. We are sure that targeted support, following UK and European Union policy combating climate change, will facilitate rapid and sustained investment in the industry and promote continued transformation to a low-carbon economy."

RES is one of the world’s leading independent renewable energy project developers with operations across Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific. At the forefront of wind energy development since the 1970s, RES has developed and/or built more than 4.5 GW of wind energy capacity worldwide, including around 10% of the UK’s wind energy.

In Scotland, RES has developed and/or owns seven wind farm projects. The RES Group is active in a range of renewable energy technologies (biomass, solar, ground source, onshore and offshore wind), as well as sustainable building design. RES is a holder of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for its commitment to renewable energy. 

RES submitted an application for Hill of Towie Wind Farm (formerly known as Drummuir) to Moray Council in 20002. The application was refused by Moray Council and RES subsequently appealed. A planning inquiry took place in 2004 and in February 2005 the Scottish Executive approved the project. Moray Council appealed to the Court of Session under section 239 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997. The Court of Session refused the appeal in 2006. The project was originally given a grid connection date of 2018, this was brought forward to 2011 as part of the National Grid’s queue advancement process. The wind farm is expected to be completed in spring 2012.