GEOFF PERCIVAL: China makes first investment in Irish energy market

China has made its first investment in Ireland’s energy market, with the European arm of its state-owned nuclear development company China General Nuclear (CGN) agreeing to buy 14 wind farms from Irish renewable energy group Gaelectric.

CGN Europe is one of the major stakeholders in the UK’s controversial planned £18bn (€21bn) nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset and is one of the leading nuclear, renewable and clean energy groups in the world, with $70bn (€65bn) worth of assets on its books and 35,000 employees.

Company heads were in Dublin, yesterday, to sign a deal to buy 230 megawatts of Irish wind energy assets owned by Gaelectric.

While no transaction fee has been disclosed, an estimate of between €1.3m and €1.5m per MW would suggest the deal is worth between €300m and €350m to Gaelectric.

The Irish firm will continue to manage the assets —which include seven wind farms in the Republic and seven in the North — on behalf of CGN. Of the 14 wind farm projects, 10 are currently operational, while the remaining four will be by the middle of next year.

Gaelectric will remain an independent company and will still have more than 500MW worth of wind and solar-generated renewable power projects in the pipeline.

“This agreement allows us to support the group’s balance sheet, paying down debt and creating the foundations for our other operational and development interests in the renewable energy sector, including a near-term development pipeline across wind, solar, biomass and energy storage,” said chief executive Barry Gavin.

At yesterday’s signing ceremony, CGN Europe chief executive Dr Wei LU said the company’s first asset purchases in Ireland will make “an important contribution” to its objective of becoming a global leader in clean energy, adding CGN was buying “a superb portfolio of operating wind energy assets”.

Deputy Finance Minister Eoghan Murphy said the deal will enhance Ireland’s energy sector, “through a considerable injection of technical expertise and economic strength”, and support job creation.

“[This] agreement between Gaelectric and CGN Europe Energy demonstrates the attractiveness of Ireland’s clean and sustainable energy credentials,” Mr Murphy added at the announcement.


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