Sojitz-led Japanese group buys Irish wind projects

Consortium buys a majority stake in HgCapital-owned Invis Energy’s 223MW portfolio, amid plans for further development across Europe.

A Japanese consortium led by investment manager Sojitz has bought a 60 percent stake in a 223MW portfolio of wind projects in Ireland.

Sojitz, which owns 48.8 percent of the group, has been joined by a Japanese subsidiary of Korean utility KEPCO (40 percent) and Mitsubishi UFJ Lease and Finance (11.2 percent). The size of the deal is undisclosed.

The consortium has bought into Irish developer Invis Energy, a company set up by local business Craydel Group and HgCapital through its €542 million Renewable Power Partners 2 fund, which closed in 2011. The founders will together retain a 40 percent stake.

Invis’s operating portfolio includes the 44.4MW Knocknagoum project, the 44MW Leitir Guingaid Leitir Peic site, the 65MW Knockduff wind farm and the 25MW Killaveenoge project. The first three began operating in 2013, 2014 and 2016 respectively and received €204.5 million in debt financing from NordLB.

The fourth project was commissioned this year, while a fifth 45MW wind farm is still under construction and is expected to be commissioned next year. Invis says it has a further development pipeline of about 350MW, while HgCapital revealed earlier this year it is testing a 1MW battery storage facility at one of the wind farms.

Sojitz hailed the Irish market as having some of the best wind conditions in the world and said it wants to build a platform in Europe that uses expertise it can export back to Japan.

“Sojitz plans to further nurture its renewable energy generation business into a pillar of stable revenue within Europe, by actively working on wind-power generation businesses, not only in Ireland, but in other places in the region anticipating sustainable growth,” it stated.

Mitsubishi said its investment is part of the firm’s “breakthrough for the next decade” strategy launched in April. The plan includes “making aggressive efforts” for projects such as this and its bid for offshore wind transmission systems in Germany earlier this year – a sector which it considers a priority under the plan.

The move by HgCapital to sell part of the business is the second time in recent weeks it has opened up investments from the fund to outside capital. Last month, it roped in Dutch pension fund manager APG to spend €300 million on a wind farm in Sweden through portfolio company Vasa Vind.