The European Investment Bank (EIB) is providing €21 million to support a plan by France’s Eiffel investment group to spend hundreds of millions of euros to develop one of the most ambitious solar energy projects Ireland has ever seen.
While the European Investment Bank typically covers around a third of the cost of an investment project, its equity stake in Ireland’s solar program accounts for less than 10 per cent of its total development costs. This means that the total development costs could exceed 250 million euros.
Developing a 5 MW solar farm that can generate enough electricity for around 1,500 homes typically costs around €5 million.
It is not yet known where the solar parks will be developed by the Eiffel Investment Group. A formal announcement of the plan will not be made until the new year.
Eiffel Investment Group is an asset manager backed by Jacques Veyrat’s Impala Group. It manages assets of 4.6 billion euros and invested 800 million euros last year.
Aside from a stake in Eiffel, Impala also has stakes in French renewable energy company Neoen. Neoen has co-developed the 8MW Millvale solar farm near Ashford, Co. Wicklow, which went live earlier this year. Neoen secured 80MW of solar capacity in the recent Renewable Energy Support Scheme auction. Here it is also involved in wind farms.
A spokesman for the European Investment Bank confirmed that it has agreed to provide the €21 million in equity while other investors now complete their investments in the Eiffel project.
He said that the investment model is new for the EIB due to its smaller stake in the project as it becomes a key early-stage investor. He added that the program’s additional backers will likely be long-term mutual funds.
Several solar parks are already operational in Ireland, including companies such as John Mullins’ Amarenco and David Maguire’s BNRG.
BNRG signed a €220 million financing deal with Neoen in 2017 to co-develop 23 solar energy projects in Ireland. They would generate up to 200 MW of electricity. While BNRG is working on a large number of deals, it is not involved in Eiffel’s EIB-backed project.
The Government’s Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS) aims to support the development of renewable energy projects in Ireland by guaranteeing prices for the electricity they generate.
The scheme is part of the government’s effort to ensure that Ireland generates 80 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. However, this ambitious goal could not be achieved.
The most recent RESS auction, the results of which were released in May, included a significant number of proposed solar energy projects across the country that won capacity.
Of the nearly 2.8 GW of energy projects that successfully secured capacity under the RESS, nearly 1.5 GW was solar. This includes projects that can generate around 4MW of electricity to some that could generate as much as 100MW.
The push towards renewable energy has gained momentum following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
https://www.independent.ie/business/irish/major-solar-investment-plan-gets-backing-of-european-investment-bank-42234426.html Major solar investment plan receives support from the European Investment Bank