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UK investor initiates bid for Gaelectric wind farms in Republic and Northern Ireland worth up to £590m

By John Mulgrew

Published 26/08/2016

One of Gaelectric’s wind farms
One of Gaelectric’s wind farms

A major English firm is at the early bidding stage for a huge portfolio of wind farms in Northern Ireland and the Republic - worth as much as £590m - it can be revealed.

It's understood the company is in talks to take over all or part of Gaelectric's wind farms, which include 13 in Northern Ireland.

Earlier this year it was revealed as many as 20 expressions of interest have been received for Gaelectric's wind farm portfolio, which is likely to have an equity value of between €250m (£197m) and €350m (£276m).

Gaelectric did not wish to comment.

Any proceeds would be used to further develop Gaelectric's other renewable energy assets and projects, which include energy storage, solar and bioenergy, as well as energy trading.

Earlier this year, the firm opened a 12 megawatt wind farm at Monnaboy in Co Londonderry.

Gaelectric previously set a target of having 400 megawatts of working wind farms by 2017.

It is understood that parties from the Far East were among those interested in the wind farms, which were also being eyed by European investors.

The company initiated a possible sales process earlier this year, hiring investment bank Rothschild to tease out potential buyers.

Gaelectric has offices in Belfast, Dublin, Manchester and Chicago.

The firm, whose chief executive is Brendan McGrath, was founded in 2004 and owns 13 wind farms in Northern Ireland and nine in the Republic.

It was reported that the sale of the cross-border wind farm portfolio had come under pressure amid Brexit uncertainty.

According to the Sunday Business Post, sources close to potential bidders of the portfolio had said issues around the volatility of the pound were impacting price.

At the start of this month, one of Gaelectric's biggest renewable energy projects in Larne was awarded €8.28m (£7m) of European funding.

The £300m project - the UK's first compressed air energy storage scheme - involves air being stored in engineered salt caverns under high pressure on Northern Ireland's east coast before being releasing to drive turbines and create power for the grid.

The EU money will pay for environmental impact assessments, planning and design, it said.

The system could generate up to 330mW of electricity - enough to sustain thousands of homes for up to six hours - and the EU said it will contribute to energy security in the UK and Ireland.

Speaking at the time, Brendan McGrath said: "Larne and Northern Ireland will become the blueprint for CAES (Compressed Air Energy Storage) and the integration of renewable energy sources across the rest of the United Kingdom and Europe."

Established a decade ago, Gaelectric has grown to become one of Northern Ireland's biggest developers and operators of wind farms.

Belfast Telegraph

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