Solar, Storage, Wind Power

UK Green Bank Set to Draw Offshore Wind Investors to $1.6 Billion Fund

The U.K. Green Investment Bank is set to tie up the first investments in a $1.6 billion fund by the end of March, part of Britain’s push to cement its dominance in offshore wind power.

The lender has interest from two potential cornerstone investors, each for about 100 million pounds ($161 million) to 200 million pounds, as well as some smaller investors, Ed Northam, the head of investment banking, said today in a telephone interview in London. The investors include U.K. pension funds and sovereign wealth funds, he said, without identifying them.

“We remain extremely confident that we’ll get this fund to first close and it will go on to be successful,” Northam said. “We’re right in the thick of the fund due diligence.”

The fund represents the first private capital that the bank will control. The U.K. has 3.6 gigawatts of offshore wind, more than the rest of the world combined. The bank intends to use the fund to invest in operating assets, allowing project developers to recycle their cash back into new plans.

The government-backed lender may raise about 400 million pounds to 500 million pounds in its first fundraising period, which will probably close before the current financial year ends March 31, Northam said. The bank itself will contribute as much as 20 percent of the funds.

Some of the bank’s existing offshore wind investments, including a 25 percent stake in the RWE AG’s Rhyl Flats project and a 10 percent share of the German utility’s Gwynt y Mor farm, may be transferred “at market price” as seed investments for the new fund, Northam said.

Northam also said it’s “achievable” for the bank to invest its target of 700 million to 800 million pounds this financial year, even though it put only about 102 million pounds into new projects in the first half.

“The larger financing commitments are still to come,” he said.

The bank was set up by the government to spur spending on renewables, and has 3.8 billion pounds of seed capital. Including this year’s projects, it’s invested about 1.4 billion pounds of that amount since it began operations almost two years ago.

Copyright 2014 Bloomberg

Lead image: Offshore wind via Shutterstock