Irish renewable energy company headed by Eddie O’Connor today unveils eight utility-scale wind and solar projects which are to reach financial close and begin construction works this year. The projects, which are spread across four continents, have a combined capacity of over 1,000 megawatts (MW) and will generate enough electricity to power more than half a million homes. The largest of the projects, the 450MW Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind farm in Scotland, is expected to reach financial close this year.
The eight construction-ready projects have spent the past five years being put through the lengthy development process by Mainstream’s team of 180 staff based across eleven offices. The seven onshore wind and solar plant have received all the necessary planning permissions and the grid connections are currently being finalised.
The company already has six wind and solar projects in operation and construction across Ireland, South Africa and Chile.
Mainstream’s Chief Executive Eddie O’Connor said: “We are now entering a very intensive growth phase. To put this into context, we are about to start building more megawatts than ESB ever put into construction in Ireland in a single year. We put almost 300 megawatts into construction last year and we have an even larger portfolio of late-stage projects ready to go into construction next year.
He continued: All of these onshore projects have the finance in place, planning permissions received and the grid connections are being finalised. We took an early position in South Africa and Chile almost five years ago, long before many of our competitors did. Identifying market opportunities and the willingness to take an early lead are among our key strengths, and those decisions are now starting to pay dividends.”
The projects are:
1. 450MW Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind farm in Scotland is due to start preliminary construction activities in late 2014
2. 140MW Khobab wind farm in South Africa is due to start construction in quarter 3 2014
3. 140MW Loeriesfontein 2 wind farm in South Africa is due to start construction in quarter 3 2014
4. 80MW Noupoort wind farm in South Africa is due to start construction in quarter 3 2014
5. 27MW San Manuel wind farm in Chile is due to start construction in late 2014
6. 43MW Alena wind farm in Chile is due to start construction in late 2014
7. 100MW Pedernales solar PV farm in Chile is due to start construction in late 2014
8. 46MW Old Man 2 Wind Farm in Canada will have turbines erected in July 2014.
Scotland 450MW offshore wind farm
Neart na Gaoithe, which is located 15.5 kilometres off the coast of Fife and in water depths of 45-55 metres, is expected to start generating renewable electricity from 2017. The wind farm received onshore planning consent in June 2013 and is on track to receive offshore consent soon and start preliminary construction work this year.
South Africa 360MW of wind and solar plant
Mainstream was awarded three tenders by the South African Government in late 2013 totalling 360MW of wind energy projects. The three projects are due to reach financial close late summer and enter construction shortly after. The company is, in partnership with Globeleq, the pan African power company owned by Actis, almost finished building an additional three wind and solar projects which were awarded in a previous South African Government tender in 2011.
Chile 170MW of wind and solar plant
Mainstream has formed a joint venture with the global pan-emerging market investor Actis to deliver 600 megawatts of wind and solar projects into construction and operation in Chile by early 2016. The joint venture company Aela Energia, which is 40% owned by Mainstream and 60% by the US$1.15bn Actis Energy Fund, will purchase the projects, which have been fully developed by Mainstream, at Financial Close. Mainstream will continue to manage the construction and support the operation of the projects on behalf of the joint venture.
Canada 46MW of wind plant
In November last year, Mainstream closed a deal to sell its 46 megawatt Oldman 2 Wind Farm, located in Alberta Canada, to IKEA. The wind farm is expected to be operational in the autumn of 2014 at which point IKEA will purchase the plant. As part of the deal Mainstream will continue to operate and maintain the wind farm on behalf of IKEA for its lifespan.