Bord na Móna and ESB secure funds for Oweninny windfarm expansion

27 Sep 2021

Image: © pedrosala/Stock.adobe.com

The project is backed by a consortium of banks including AIB, BNP Paribas and the European Investment Bank.

Bord na Móna and ESB have closed a financing deal to expand the Oweninny windfarm in Co Mayo.

The new 83MW initiative, which is the second phase of the Oweninny development, is to be financed with debt from a number of lenders including AIB, BNP Paribas and the European Investment Bank (EIB). Total investment is $150m.

Future Human

The EIB’s involvement in the Oweninny project began with the first phase in 2017. This phase, representing 89MW of capacity, was completed in 2019.

The Oweninny development is a 50-50 collaboration between Bord na Móna and ESB. It adjoins the Bellacorick windfarm, Ireland’s first commercial wind generation site, which work began on in 1992. It is located in north-western Mayo, between the towns of Bangor Erris and Crossmolina.

Though the companies have only now secured full financing for the second phase of the project, construction on the expansion began in February of this year.

Bord na Móna CEO Tom Donnellan commented: “We have a long history of renewable energy operations and development in Mayo and this exciting new venture represents the next chapter in Bord na Móna reaching 1GW of renewable assets by 2030.

“Our vision is to help Ireland achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. This joint venture with ESB, supported by our lenders, demonstrates how we in Bord na Móna can deploy our expertise and assets in order to support national policy to decarbonise by investing in new forms of renewable energy that are secure and sustainable.”

ESB CEO Paddy Hayes added: “Building on ESB’s long history of electricity generation at Bellacorick and a strong partnership with Bord na Móna, the Oweninny joint venture investment is another tangible step towards a low carbon future, powered by clean electricity.”

The project is part of a broader strategy by Bord na Móna to increase its involvement in renewable electricity generation. The semi-State company was created to manage the harvesting of peat, but confirmed in January of this year that it had permanently and completely ceased this practice on lands it owns.

The company describes this move away from turf-cutting into the renewables business as “brown to green”.

ESB is also continuing to increase its investment in renewable projects, having announced a plan for a huge hydrogen storage project in Cork in August.

Jack Kennedy is a freelance journalist based in Dublin

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