Macquarie’s Green Investment Group has created a new European solar platform, with more than 8GW of projects under development across six countries.
The Cero Group will form the basis for GIG’s solar investments across Europe, with project developments currently in the UK, Italy, Spain, Poland, France and the Netherlands. Solar has been forecasted to comprise 60 percent of Europe’s generation mix by 2050 and GIG’s head of Europe Ed Northam believes this will require the capabilities Macquarie is hoping to bring to market with Cero.
“There is an enormous scale potential and enormous opportunity but that opportunity needs focus and expertise,” he told Infrastructure Investor. “It needs the potential to scale up quickly and we think one of the best ways to do that is to create a vehicle that we put deep expertise into and a committed focus on that opportunity set. We will then back it with the capability set and the capital base that comes through GIG and Macquarie. We’re creating a business that has the best of both worlds.”
Northam declined to comment on the specific returns that Cero will be aiming to generate, although he said Cero “is a development business taking development risk and needs to be able to generate a level of financial return that is often a two to three-year risk journey” and that GIG can bring something to the European greenfield solar market that many lack.
“I think we bring a capital base that is not necessarily common for a development business,” Northam said. “I think we bring an industry-leading position in the ability to monetise these assets through its revenue structure.”
This, he added, could include bringing a significant storage element to projects as a “hybrid solution” alongside power purchase agreements, while Cero will also not shy away from taking merchant power risk.
“We’re seeing an increase in pure merchant projects and I think there is an element of the market which says they’re happy to take more merchant exposure on that asset base and that will continue to play out in the years ahead,” Northam said.
Cero will incorporate 100MW of operational utility-scale projects already owned by GIG. The renewables-focused firm is also planning to deliver projects in a similar vein to Cero in North America and Asia-Pacific through its Savion and Blueleaf Energy platforms respectively.