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Breath of fresh air

The State is taking a €35 million punt on a huge new wind energy venture

The energy fund is set to start work on several wind farms in Ireland this year.

THE IRISH STATE’S investment fund has committed €35 million to a new wind energy project that will build multiple wind farms across the country.

NTR, formerly one of Ireland’s largest publicly listed companies, announced today that it secured €250 million in equity for a new investment vehicle called NTR Wind 1 that will build onshore wind farms in Ireland and the UK.

The most recent investors in the fund are the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), which has pledged €35 million, and the Strathclyde Pension Fund, one of the largest pension funds in the UK, which has committed €50 million.

ISIF was established to invest the €7 billion remaining in the National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF), after the NPRF’s €20 billion in assets were used during the crash to help the State keep afloat.

The new fund from NTR is set to use the €250 million committed to the project to raise a further €420 million of debt to build wind farms with a combined capacity of 270 megawatts (MW) across Ireland and the UK.

The Irish Wind Energy Association estimates that 1MW of wind energy can provide enough electricity to supply approximately about 650 homes.

Legal and General Capital, the investment arm of FTSE 100 firm Legal and General Group, has committed just under half of the funding for NTR Wind 1. NTR has also committed €50 million of its own equity to the new fund.

wind farm graph Ireland's current output from wind energy

Click here for larger image

Irish investment

About €80 million of the total equity will be invested in the Irish Single Electricity Market, the wholesale electricity market operating in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Speaking to McGuckian declined to reveal the exact number of farms NTR will build in the Republic, however she said construction will soon start on the fund’s first wind farm in the Republic.

“We have a 10MW project based in Meath. It’s not under construction yet but we would hope to be building there by the end of the year,” she said,

We are targeting a minimum investment of €80 million in the Irish Single Electricity Market (and) if we get more opportunities to invest after that we may.”

She said between €200 million and €250 million of debt will be raised for the Irish projects, adding that debt will be raised on a project-by-project basis.

ISIF, which is managed and controlled by the National Treasury Management Agency, praised the project. ISIF fund director Eugene O’Callaghan said the organisation was attracted to the fund because of “NTR’s business plan, management team and Irish pipeline”.

In November, NTR, which was one of Ireland’s best-known public companies, demerged its wind energy business and transferred its remaining investments to a new holding company.

Although keeping the name NTR, its business model has dramatically changed. Whereas it once owned assets including the Westlink Toll Bridge, recycling firm Greenstar, and a chunk of wind energy firm Airtricity it is now focused on developing investment vehicles for renewable energy projects.

Read: 6 facts about Irish energy use that will make you stop and think

Read: The Environment Minister says he wouldn’t want to live beside a wind turbine

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