Wind energy in Ireland: Fund acquires stake in wind farm

Irish Infrastructure Fund completes first investment in renewable sector by acquiring majority interest in portfolio of wind farms from Viridian Group.
The Irish Infrastructure Fund has acquired a controlling stake in a portfolio of wind farms in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The portfolio, previously wholly owned by the Viridian Group ("the Group"), consists of 104 megawatt (MW) of capacity generated by 10 wind farms, eight of which are located in the Republic of Ireland.

The fund will hold a stake of at least 75 per cent across the portfolio of wind farms as a result of the transaction. Viridian’s Energia business will retain the minority interest in the portfolio and will continue to manage and operate the wind farms and to offtake substantially all of the electricity generated by them. This is the first investment completed by the Irish Infrastructure Fund. T

he fund, managed by AMP Capital, will seek up to EUR1 billion from global and Irish institutional investors, and has already secured EUR300 million from the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) and other Irish institutional investors.

AMP Capital Head of Infrastructure Europe Boe Pahari said: "We are very pleased to announce the completion of the Irish Infrastructure Fund’s first investment. "Ireland benefits from one of the most attractive wind resources in Europe, with exposure to the prevailing south-westerly winds of the Atlantic Ocean making it an exceptional location for wind energy generation," he said. Peter Baillie, Managing Director Energia Renewables, commented: "Energia is delighted to welcome the Irish Infrastructure Fund as a strategic investment partner in its renewables business. This is a strong vote of confidence in Energia and in the Irish wind industry. We look forward to leveraging this investment through the continued growth and development of our significant portfolio of renewable assets across Ireland.

"Energia Group is one of the most significant contributors to the achievement of Ireland’s renewable targets. We have invested EUR200m to date and now have a 24% market share of operational wind generation throughout Ireland under contract (500MW).

Our most recent projects include Corkermore and Drumlough Hill Wind Farms in County Donegal, Caherdowney in Cork and Crighshane and Church Hill in County Tyrone." AMP Capital whose role is to acquire and manage the fund’s portfolio of assets, will continue to focus on infrastructure assets which underpin the Irish economy with the objective of preserving and enhancing long-term value for institutional investors in the fund.

The fund provides institutional investors globally with a unique opportunity to invest in significant Irish infrastructure assets. "We continue to progress an active deal pipeline consistent with our strategy of investing in quality Irish infrastructure assets across a range of sectors. We see this transaction as potentially the first in a number of additional investments in the renewable energy space in Ireland," Mr Pahari concluded. 

Energia Group comprises of Energia Supply, Energia Renewables and Energia Generation and is Ireland’s largest independent supplier in the Irish business energy market, with a 28% share of the business electricity market on an all-island basis with approximately 60,000 customers.

Energia is among Ireland’s leading providers of sustainable energy green with 500MW of operational renewable electricity capacity contracted within its energy portfolio (24% market share), with a further 340MW of wind farm projects currently in construction or in development across Ireland. Following this transaction, Energia will continue to develop its pipeline of wind farm projects independently, with a further 100MW due to commence construction in 2012.

Energia also sources conventional power from the Group’s power stations in north Dublin, where the company has invested EUR500 million. Energia Group is a member of the Viridian Group and has offices in Dublin, Galway, Cork, Belfast and Omagh. About Viridian Group The Viridian Group consists of Energia Group, Power NI and Power Procurement. Power NI is a regulated electricity supplier to c.700,000 residential and business customers in Northern Ireland. Power Procurement, also a regulated business, administers c.800MW of generation capacity under contract in Northern Ireland.

Wind power in Ireland

1997: 53 MW
1998: 73 MW (+37.8 %)
1999: 73 MW (- %)
2000: 119 MW (+63.1 %)
2001: 125 MW (+5.1 %)
2002: 137 MW (+9.6 %)
2003: 186 MW (+35.8 %)
2004: 339 MW (+82.3 %)
2005: 495 MW (+46.1 %)
2006: 746 MW (+50.8 %)
2007: 805 MW (+8 %)
2008: 1,245 MW (+54.7 %)
2009: 1,260 MW (+1.3 %)
2010: 1,392 MW (+10.5 %)
2011: 1,631 MW (+17.2 %)