Mainstream Renewables courts investors with new unit

The clean energy developer has launched Mainstream Renewable Capital to help it fund its 700MW of contracted renewables projects and more.

Clean energy developer Mainstream Renewable Power has launched an investment division that will aim to raise third-party money for wind and solar projects in emerging markets.

The Dublin-based developer hopes the launch of Mainstream Renewable Capital will help it fund its 700MW pipeline of contracted renewables projects and the 9GW portfolio it intends to build over the next decade. It plans to raise $840 million of equity and debt over the next 18 months to finance projects in Chile, South Africa and Vietnam.

“Raising capital is 50 percent of our business,” Mainstream chief executive Eddie O’Connor told Infrastructure Investor. “We were awarded Chile, and then we did this big deal with GE in Vietnam. When that happened, I said, ‘Look, this is no longer just a casual thing’. This is something that we need to put on a very firm footing with somebody who is vastly experienced in this space.”

The company has hired James McGinnis, a veteran energy banker who has 25 years of experience in the sector, to lead Mainstream Renewable Capital. McGinnis has held several related positions at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, and has focused on fund and portfolio management in the energy and power sectors for AIG, Harbinger Capital Partners and Halcyon Asset Management.

Since 2008, Mainstream has worked with investors, governments and utilities to build clean energy projects around the world. The company is a longtime partner of emerging markets firm Actis, with whom it has set up several large-scale renewables platforms in which it is a minority shareholder. These include Chile's Aela Energia and Africa-focused Lekela Power, which were respectively established in 2013 and 2015.  

The launch of its investment arm will bring in-house the ability for Mainstream to work with institutions to deploy capital into certain types of projects or locations.

“There are investors at any point of the spectrum who want pure Africa, pure Latin America, pure wind, pure solar, or a combination,” McGinnis said. “Our mandate is to create investment vehicles for investors who want to come in at a bespoke level, whether it’s a lifetime of a project or a technology of a project or a geography or all of the above. Our job is to raise capital for Mainstream Renewable Power.”

Mainstream has built over 800MW into operation. In September, the firm announced a partnership with GE to build 1GW of wind projects in Vietnam, and won 986MW of wind projects in Chile’s latest energy auction in August. And in July, The Rockefeller Brothers Fund committed $10 million to Mainstream to expand its renewable energy development in Africa.