Nord/LB and Rabobank back Energia wind farm developments in Ireland

Energia, a member of the Viridian Group, achieved financial close for its £63m investment in 51MW Crighshane and Church Hill wind farms in Co Tyrone Northern Ireland, completing a £57m non-recourse wind power project financing with Nord/LB and Rabobank, for an 18 year term.

Energia have contracted for 22 state of the art Enercon E70 2.3MW wind turbines and have awarded substantial civil works contracts to local companies; Adman Civil Projects Ltd and PT McWilliams, boosting the local economy and securing jobs at a time of significant concern over spending cuts. Energia is one of the most significant contributors to the achievement of renewable targets in Ireland and work will commence immediately on these wind energy farms.

The £57m financing was structured by Nord/LB who was mandated as Debt Advisor in summer 2008. Based on the strong project fundamentals, Nord/LB underwrote 100% of the financing in spring 2010. Rabobank International joined the financing before financial close as Mandated Lead Arranger.

With today’s announcement Energia has now secured €115m funding for over 100MW of renewable asset development and the arrangements are in place for the remaining funding to come from its Irish portfolio financing with RBS, Bank of Ireland and National Australia Bank.

By 2012, Energia plan to be the largest independent renewable off-taker on the island of Ireland with 740MW, around 25% of the Irish renewable market. It currently has long term PPA’s in place with 255MW of operating wind farms and other renewables, with a further 485MW scheduled to be operational by 2012.

Energia is Ireland’s leading independent energy supply company with a 25% market share of the business electricity market on an all–island basis with over 65,000 customers. The company also supplies 30% of all gas consumed in Ireland by the country’s business gas users.

Northern Ireland Energy Minister Arlene Foster MLA, said: "I very much welcome this investment by Energia. The Strategic Energy Framework sets a challenging target of 40% of our electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2020 and onshore wind farms such as those at Crighshane and Church Hill will have an important role to play in achieving this."

Irish Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan, TD also welcomed the development of further wind power capacity. The Minister said: “These investments by Energia and the successful financing of these new wind farm projects provide a strong international endorsement of Ireland’s renewable energy policies. With a current figure of 15%, we are on track to meet our 2020 target to have 40% of Ireland’s electricity produced from renewable energy which will have long term benefits for the economy and also for the environment.”

Peter Baillie, Managing Director Renewables, Energia said, “We are very pleased with the vote of confidence from leading renewable lenders Nord/LB and Rabobank. We have been working closely with Nord/LB as debt advisor for the last two years to achieve this financing and we strongly recommend their expertise in the renewable sector. The addition of Dutch renewable lender Rabobank is a further vote of confidence in Energia’s renewable expertise.

“We are delighted to make this step change in our wind farm investment programme. This is really significant to the local economy and we need to take this opportunity to develop the skills locally to support this ‘new green deal’.”

Gerard Pieters, who lead the deal for Nord/LB said: “Nord/LB is one of the pioneers in wind power financing in the UK and we are delighted to have been able to advise Energia on this landmark financing. Our expertise and in-depth knowledge of all important renewable energy systems and support regimes in Europe enable us to provide a world-class service to our customers. We are very pleased with Rabobank joining the financing and are looking forward to continue to work together to embrace further growth in the renewable energy markets “

Ferry Strikkers on behalf of Rabobank said: “We are very pleased with our role in this transaction and value our close cooperation with both Energia and Nord/LB. This deal underpins Rabobank’s strong commitment to the renewable energy sector and our profound understanding of the different renewable incentive schemes. We are delighted to add this visible wind transaction to our UK and Irish on- and offshore wind portfolio and trust it will help us to continue our leading role in financing Europe’s ambitious targets for renewable energy.”

The banks were advised by Norton Rose (legal), SgurrEnergy (technical), JLT (insurance), Garrad Hassan (wind), and PKF (model and tax), with Arthur Cox, Wind Prospect, Natural Power Consultants, Jennings O’Donovan and Aon acting for Energia.