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Macquarie’s GIG goes into offshore wind development

The green investment specialist has tapped Iberdrola’s former managing director of offshore wind, Jonathan Cole, to serve as CEO of Corio Generation, which will be a standalone company.

Macquarie’s Green Investment Group will create an offshore wind business that will take projects from origination through to operation, the UK-based green investment specialist announced Thursday.

Corio Generation will be headquartered in the UK, with offices in London and Edinburgh, and will begin operation next month with a pipeline of more than 15GW.

GIG has tapped Jonathan Cole, who last October stepped down as managing director of Iberdrola Renewables’ offshore wind business, a role he held for 10 years, to serve as chief executive of the new company. He will be joined by Samuel Leupold, who spent five years as chief executive of wind power at Denmark’s Ørsted before joining GIG in 2019 as chairman of offshore wind energy, a role he will retain alongside that of chairman at Corio.

The rationale for creating a standalone company is that having developed a 15GW+ pipeline of offshore wind projects, “which is actually equivalent to some of the largest players in the market, we felt we needed to have a business that is structured properly to deliver these”, a spokesman for Macquarie told Infrastructure Investor.

The idea for such an initiative has been something GIG has been considering for some time. “On one side, you have governments that are extremely positive and really pushing for net-zero targets. On the other, you have an increasing number of investors who are looking to take the opportunity to start supporting the sector more actively,” the spokesman said, noting that offshore wind capacity is expected to reach 228GW by 2030.

“And what we see is the need for more organisations in the middle that are able to combine financial and technical expertise to actually deliver these increasingly gigantic projects around the world.”

Corio will continue the development of GIG’s existing portfolio, which includes previously announced projects in the UK, Europe, Taiwan, Korea and Australia, but will also explore opportunities in the Americas, according to the statement.

It will “apply a long-term partnership approach to the creation and management of projects, underpinned by access to long-term capital sourced both within Macquarie and from third parties,” GIG said in the statement.

“The idea is that this model enables us to bring in more third-party capital to support the projects, which means we can invest and stay with projects over the long term as well,” the spokesman explained.

GIG will transfer more than 100 staff from its existing offshore wind team to Corio and expects to hire another 125 employees over the coming year, the spokesman added.

Beginning in April, GIG “will operate as part of Macquarie Asset Management”, according to the statement.

Asked whether GIG will cease to exist as a brand, Macquarie’s spokesman replied that GIG will continue to function as Macquarie’s core green investment arm and Corio will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of the GIG business.

The firm made a similar move in February 2021 when it launched Cero Generation, an 8GW solar platform focused exclusively on Europe. Prior to that it had created a North America-focused solar platform when in 2019 it acquired the solar and energy storage unit of Tradewind Energy, a subsidiary of Enel Green Power North America. GIG sold that platform, which it had renamed Savion, in January to Royal Dutch Shell’s US subsidiary Shell New Energies US.

Its other portfolio company is Blueleaf Energy, a solar developer focused on APAC that GIG acquired in 2018.