Mainstream courts offshore wind’s ‘major players’ for 450MW stake sale

The £2bn Neart na Goithe project in Scotland recently overcame a lengthy legal process to proceed to the development stage. Mainstream CEO Andy Kinsella says the sale has already generated significant interest.

Clean energy developer Mainstream Renewable Power is planning to bring in a majority equity partner for its £2 billion ($2.7 billion; €2.3 billion) Scottish offshore wind farm early next year.

The company has mandated KPMG for the selection process to find an investor for the 450MW Neart na Goithe project, which is expected to begin construction next year.

The sale has already generated significant interest, with “almost all the major players in the offshore wind sector already in discussions with us”, according to Andy Kinsella, Mainstream group chief executive, who took the reins from founder Eddie O’Connor in September.

The move to bring in a partner for Neart na Goithe follows approval of the project by the UK’s Supreme Court last month, after a long-running battle with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which sought to block the development of the offshore wind site. It also comes a year after the appointment of former Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs executive James McGinnis as chief executive of new unit Mainstream Renewable Capital, responsible for raising third-party capital for projects.

“Mainstream plans on maintaining a significant minority interest in the project, which we have developed over the past 10 years, and we want to see it through the construction process and into commercial operation,” Kinsella added. “This is a multi-billion-pound infrastructure project and it has always been our plan to choose the right equity partner with whom we can bring it forward, at the right time. We are very excited at the level of interest shown from all the serious players in the market.”

Neart na Goithe was awarded a contract for difference by the UK government in February 2015 and once operational will receive a strike price of £123.47 per MWh. Mainstream declined to comment on the size or value of the project it is looking to offload.