SeaMade secures €250m European loan for Belgian offshore wind farms

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has agreed to provide a €250m loan to SeaMade for construction of ‘Mermaid’ and ‘Seastar’ Belgian offshore wind farms.

The two wind projects, which are currently under development by SeaMade, have a combined capacity of 487MW.

EIB vice president Andrew McDowell said: “This is a great example of the work of the EIB benefitting Europeans. Not only has the EIB, the European Bank, backed the construction of all the wind farms in the Belgian concession on the North Sea, it also financed the research and development into the wind harnessing technology itself.

“This project has been made possible through the use of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), an example of the EIB and the European Commission working together to finance clean, renewable energy for the people of Belgium, is something to be extremely proud of.”

Built with an investment of nearly €1.3bn, the Belgian offshore wind farms will be developed on two different sites located 38km and 50km off the coast and will feature 58 turbines. The works at the site are expected to begin next year.

From 2020, SeaMade intends to supply renewable energy to 485,000 households and reduce more than 500,000t of carbon emissions per annum.

To date, EIB has co-financed eight Belgian offshore wind farms, including SeaMade, with a combined capacity of 2.2GW, producing in total 7.8TWh of electricity, equivalent to the consumption of around two million households.

European Commission Energy Union vice president Maros Sefcovic said: “This new Juncker Plan agreement is another example of how committed we are to investing into the energy of tomorrow.

“With already €15bn of additional investments mobilised in the environment and resource efficiency sector, the European Fund for Strategic Investments is helping the EU achieve the transition towards climate neutrality and fulfil our objective of reaching over 80% of the EU’s electricity produced by renewable energy sources by 2050.” /


OPDEnergy plans global solar projects with combined capacity of 500MW

Spain-based energy assets developer OPDEnergy is planning to build photovoltaic (PV) solar projects in Spain, Chile and Mexico next year, which will have a combined capacity of 500MW.

The company will invest nearly €500m in these projects, and has drawn funds under Project Finance Schemes with various financial institutions.

In Spain, OPDEnergy will construct seven PV plants with a combined capacity of 300MW. These plants will be at Extremadura, Andalucia and Aragon, and are expected to commence operations by the end of next year.

OPDEnergy intends to develop a 50MW capacity at La Fernandina solar plant in Extremadura. At Andalucia, the firm will build two 50MW capacity plants – each at Puerto Real of Cadiz and Alcala de Guadaira of Seville.

The company will also develop 148MW capacity, which will be distributed among the new solar facilities in Los Belos of Zaragoza and Montesol of Teruel and their extensions.

In Chile, the company intends to build a 50MW capacity solar facility. Construction of this plant will be carried out within the framework of 176GWh per year block of energy award secured by the company during the public energy tender in 2016.

In Mexico, OPDEnergy will commence construction of a 107MW ‘Andalucía’ solar plant in Coahuila de Zaragoza state and a 37MW solar plant in Aguascalientes state.

OPDEnergy CEO Luis Cid said: “The lever of diversification in the energy mix, opting not only for photovoltaic solar energy but also for wind and hydro.

“And the lever of globalisation, which we started off in Italy where we built 49MW, England with 74MW completed and now with Mexico and Chile in 2019 that will allow us to grow organically and sustainably in order to carry on expanding our current portfolio in development of more than 5,000MW.”

In addition to the global solar projects, OPDEnergy is developing various projects in other markets such as the US and Italy. /


UK to spend additional £20m on CCUS in Clean Growth Action Plan

/ UK Energy Minister Claire Perry has pledged to spend an additional £20m on Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) under its Clean Growth Action Plan, including the construction of the first CCUS emissions storage facility.

The extra funds will be added to the existing £100m pot and will be used to assist the installation of carbon capture equipment at industrial sites across the UK. The strategy includes building a pilot facility by the mid-2020s, followed by full-scale facilities in the 2030s if the pilot is successful.

Previous UK carbon capture initiatives were focussed around storing emissions from coal and gas power plants, but due to the rise of renewables, heavy industry such as chemical and oil refineries are emerging as the main culprits.

University of Edinburgh professor of CCUS Stuart Haszeldine told the Guardian: “This is much more probable [to succeed] than the previous attempts because the capture of CO2 is spread across numerous different types of industry.”

While the government has received interest from industrial facilities in Scotland, Merseyside and Teesside, it could be another year until the Energy Ministry publishes the Action Plan on getting the pilot plant built.

Pöyry Management Consulting’s gas team senior principal John Williams said: “This government announcement will be welcomed and shows a renewed commitment to CCUS that should ease some of the uncertainty facing project developers. However, while £20m will help, it will not be sufficient, in itself, to get projects up and running and the government may need to be more ambitious in this area.

“Perhaps more significant is the announcement from Oil and Gas Climate Initiative backed by six major oil and gas companies to develop a CCS-equipped natural gas power station at Teesside. This could provide an important ‘anchor’ load on which to base an industrial CCS cluster in the area leading to potentially significant carbon reductions.”

One CCUS project in Scotland will receive £175,000 of investment from Westminster, as well as £175,000 from Holyrood and extra funding from the European Union. It was designed to capture carbon at a gas terminal in Northern Aberdeen.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers head of engineering Dr Jenifer Baxter said she welcomed the action plan but wants to see ideas turned into real action.

“CCUS is a critical part of the future energy and industrial systems and the government is heading in the right direction with providing additional funding. However, the amounts are somewhat underwhelming and the translation into action in this sector is slow,” said Baxter.

“The UK is well-placed to lead the world in the development of carbon capture and storage technologies, which are considered critical for decarbonising our whole energy system. Deployment of demonstration plants and low carbon industrial clusters should form a central part of our industrial strategy. The renewed focus on CCUS is welcome, but planning should be converted into action soon.” /


Black Mountain signs licensing deal with Erda Energy

UK-based company Erda Energy and Black Mountain have signed a licensing deal to provide zero-carbon heating and cooling solutions for corporate clients in the country.

As part of the deal, Black Mountain has gained the licence for Erda Energy’s geo-exchange technology, which is a patented coaxial inclined borehole solution that captures the waste energy created in heating and cooling processes and stores it for use later.

The partnership will aim to enable businesses to save energy and reduce carbon impact.

Erda Energy noted that a four-year deployment of its technology at a UK food retailer has led to 28,000t of carbon emission reduction and savings of more than 160GWh of energy usage across its 25 stores.

Erda Energy managing director Kevin Stickney said: “The UK is waking up to the opportunities for decarbonising heat, and as policy catches up, businesses will increasingly look for the most cutting-edge solutions to decarbonise energy.

“Geo-exchange not only fits this bill but could also stimulate skilled jobs through growth in the British supply chain.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Black Mountain on this technology licence, and look forward to witnessing the substantial reductions their team can make for energy and carbon-conscious businesses.”

Under the deal, Black Mountain will focus on the expansion of geo-exchange technology in corporate markets across the UK.

Black Mountain managing director Roger Woods said: “We’re on a mission to help customers achieve their zero carbon energy goals.

“When we looked at the options on the market to complement our zero carbon electricity solutions, Erda Energy’s geo-exchange technology stood out as the way to deliver zero carbon heating and cooling. We saw what the technology had done for existing customers and could immediately see the huge opportunities for us to take it to new markets.

“This licensing deal allows us to bring two core offerings together, and provide a whole site solution for transforming energy and carbon performance.” /


France to increase renewables budget, triple wind capacity by 2030

/ The French Government has pledged to increase its renewables budget to €71bn from 2019 to 2028, and plans to triple onshore wind power capacity by 2030.

President Emmanuel Macron announced that the renewables budget would increase from €5bn to €8bn annually, according to France’s energy plan released in November.

Macron said in a televised speech: “By 2030, the production of the onshore wind farm will be tripled and the amount of energy produced from solar photovoltaic multiplied by five.”

As well as tripling its onshore wind capacity, the French Government said the new funds will allow it to increase its solar power generation fivefold, which will translate to France’s energy mix comprising 40% renewable sources.

France has traditionally been dependent on nuclear power, deriving almost three-quarters of its electricity from nuclear projects nationwide. However, with plans announced to close 14 nuclear reactors by 2035, there will be a gap in the market that renewables could fill.

The government said it on track to meet a target of 15GW of installed wind capacity by the end of this year. However, it is likely that this year’s solar target of 10.2GW will not be met.

At the same time, Macron has pledged to keep electricity prices from renewables low for consumers, which will be partly achieved through reforming the Regulated Access to Incumbent Nuclear Electricity (ARENH) market mechanism.

In his speech, Macron stressed that “reducing the role of nuclear energy does not mean renouncing it”.

He added: “It is indispensable that French people continue to benefit from it so long as the nuclear reactors are functioning.”

The reform would allow energy suppliers to buy up to a maximum of 100TWh of nuclear power each year at a fixed price of €42 per MWh. He added that the ARENH is predicted to end in 2025.

There are further plans by the French Government to develop power interconnectors with neighbouring countries to buy up power produced elsewhere in Europe at the lowest cost. /


Foresight Solar acquires 11 additional UK solar assets

/ Closed-end investment company Foresight Solar Fund has acquired a portfolio of 11 operational UK solar assets.

The 100% stake in the UK solar assets portfolio, with a total installed capacity of 80.9MW, has been acquired for £33.1m ($42.2m), including the economic benefit of all cash flows from 1 April 2018.

Foresight Solar will fund the acquisition with the proceeds of the equity issue of nearly £58m, of which the remaining amount will be used to reduce or repay some of its existing bank facilities.

The equity issue was completed last month through a placing of new ordinary shares of no par value in the company.

The solar assets are spread across various locations, including Bull’s Head in Milton Keynes, Bilsthorpe in Nottinghamshire, Roskrow in Cornwall, Nowhere in Lincolnshire, Ash Farm in Shropshire, Pen & Cae in Carmarthenshire, PS Manor Farm in Bedfordshire, and Playters in Suffolk.

Foresight Solar’s in-house asset management team will continue to manage the assets, which have been in operation for at least two years.

Foresight Solar Fund chairman Alex Ohlsson said: “We are pleased to complete this acquisition, rounding off what has been a busy year both for Foresight Solar and for the UK renewables market as a whole.

“This acquisition further strengthens our position as the largest UK-listed dedicated solar energy investment company by installed capacity and enhances the diversification of our asset portfolio and ability to drive economies of scale.

“Whilst we do not expect our high volume of activity in the UK secondary market to continue at the same rate in 2019, as previously noted, we are pleased to complete another NAV-accretive acquisition that demonstrates our ability to secure attractive opportunities.”

With the completion of the acquisition, Foresight Solar’s total installed capacity has reached 869MW across 50 UK solar assets, and four Australian assets. /


Emera to sell three US natural gas plants to Carlyle for $590m

/ Energy utility company Emera has agreed to sell its three natural gas plants in New England for $590m.

The three facilities will be acquired by Cogentrix, an affiliate of US-based private equity firm Carlyle Group.

The natural gas plants are Bridgeport Energy, Tiverton Power and Rumford Power, which together have the capacity to generate approximately 1,100MW of energy.

Emera president and CEO Scott Balfour said: “This transaction, part of the three-year funding plan we introduced during our third quarter earnings results, increases Emera’s financing flexibility to capitalise on our regulated growth opportunities today and in the future.

“Our New England facilities delivered solid financial results during the five years of our ownership and distinguished themselves with industry-leading safety and operational performance.

“I want to thank our dedicated teams whose expertise and commitment produced those achievements. The Carlyle Group is highly regarded in the industry and well positioned to lead these facilities to continued success.”

Emera intends to use the proceeds from the sale to reduce its corporate-level debt and support capital investment opportunities within its regulated utility businesses.

Carlyle Group managing director Matt O’Connor said: “Through this acquisition, Carlyle Power Partners will increase its generation capacity in the attractive New England market, making us one of the largest owners of power generation facilities in the region.

“We look forward to leveraging our existing market knowledge to create additional value for Bridgeport Energy, Tiverton Power, and Rumford Power, building on their already strong track records of operational excellence.” /


Aviva to provide £400m investment for Hornsea windfarm

/ Global asset management business Aviva Investors has agreed to provide a £400m investment for the construction of the Hornsea 1 offshore windfarm in the UK.

Infrastructure debt and structured finance teams of the asset management firm have invested £400m in fixed-rate and inflation-linked bonds.

In September, Global Infrastructure Partners agreed to acquire 50% of Hornsea 1 from Orsted Wind Power.

Aviva Investors Infrastructure Debt head Darryl Murphy said: “We are delighted to have participated in the Hornsea 1 financing, which is a transformational deal for the European renewables market. We continue to have a strong appetite for future investments within this sector, seeking opportunities that meet our clients’ investment requirements.”

Hornsea 1 is located in the North Sea nearly 101km off the northeast coast of the UK and will have an installed capacity of 1,218MW.

Planned to be fully commissioned by 2020, the offshore windfarm project is likely to create more than 2,300 employment opportunities and increase supply chain development.

Once operational, Hornsea 1 will generate enough electricity to supply over one million UK homes.

Orsted Partnerships and Structured Solutions head Kunal Patel said: “The Hornsea 1 windfarm is a landmark transaction for the market and demonstrates the continued trust of blue-chip institutions to invest in our projects.” /