Macquarie’s Green Investment Group makes North American debut

More than a year after moving from public-sector green bank to private sector renewables financier, GIG is aiming to capitalise on the region’s renewables sector which is ‘poised for a prolonged period of growth’.

Macquarie Capital’s Green Investment Group has marked its entrance into North America’s clean energy market with the financial close of a 200MW wind project in Texas and the launch of a solar development partnership.

GIG, previously the UK government-owned Green Investment Bank, announced plans on Thursday to expand its renewables investment platform to North America, aiming to capitalise on strong opportunity and demand for renewables assets in one of the world’s largest energy markets.

Macquarie said the Canadian Breaks wind project in Texas reached financial close after it agreed to provide the full sponsorship equity required to develop the project. Lenders including Rabobank, National Australia Bank and Siemens Financial Services provided debt financing, according to a statement.

GIG and Macquarie have also struck a deal with a team of solar developers to create the company Candela Renewables to serve as the investor’s North American solar platform. Macquarie will provide financial backing for projects Candela builds, starting with a 1GW pipeline. According to Chris Archer, head of green energy in the Americas for Macquarie, development partnerships like this are “something you will see us doing more of in the future”.

“It was always our ambition to build GIG into a global brand under which we make our renewable energy investments,” Archer told Infrastructure Investor. “We wanted to do that launch together with these transactions in the North American market,” he added, which in a statement he described as being “poised for a long period of growth” due to falling technology costs and growing demand from both corporates and utilities.

Macquarie agreed to purchase GIG from the UK government last April for £2.3 billion, five years after it was launched as a tool to drive investments in what were then nascent green technologies. When GIG started as a green bank, its mandate was to prove to mainstream institutional investors clean energy assets could provide a financial and environmental return.

Since Macquarie’s acquisition and name change, GIG has operated as direct investor in renewables projects at all stages of the project lifecycle. According to the statement, GIG will invest not only in established technologies – such as solar, wind and hydro – but also in emerging technologies, including tidal, biofuels, storage and low-carbon transport.

In North America, GIG will operate out of Macquarie’s headquarters in New York and their offices in Austin and San Francisco.