Ireland’s SWF joins €140m investment to propel solar sites

A portfolio of more than 20 projects with a capacity of 140MW have been backed in a bid to help the fledgling sector.

The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund has backed what is set to be one of the largest solar portfolios in the country, worth €140 million.

The €8 billion sovereign development fund has invested alongside local developer Power Capital and Frankfurt-listed operator Capital Stage in a portfolio of more than 20 solar projects with a total capacity of 140MW. Some 110MW of the portfolio had secured planning permission by the end of last year, while the remainder is expected to receive approval by the end of this quarter.

It will be one of the largest, single solar portfolios in the nascent Irish market – which has also generated interest from Infracapital through its investment in Amarenco. There is currently minimal power being generated by solar in Ireland and a lack of the dedicated regulatory support seen in other European markets, although grid operators are considering hundreds of development applications.

“This partnership supports Ireland’s continued transition to a low-carbon economy against a backdrop of Ireland possessing a solar resource similar to that in southern UK and northern Germany, where solar energy has delivered steady returns for institutional investors,” said Paul Saunders, head of innovation and special investments at ISIF.

ISIF’s commitment builds on its €76 million cornerstone investment in Greencoat Capital’s Irish arm, Greencoat Renewables, in March last year, although the latest move is its first solar-dedicated play. The vehicle, previously known as the National Pensions Reserve Fund, backed other developments in the country last year – such as at Shannon Airport, near Limerick and a range of infrastructure projects for a development in south Dublin.