ORIT buys more than €138m of Irish solar sites from Statkraft

27 Jul 2021

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Four sites in the 250MW deal have RESS contracts, guaranteeing a fixed income from them until 2037.

Octopus Renewables Infrastructure Trust (ORIT) has conditionally purchased a portfolio of five solar energy sites in Ireland from Statkraft, the Norwegian state-owned renewable energy giant.

The sites in question are located near Dublin, and are expected to have a total capacity of up to 250MW when construction is completed. The deal is conditional on four of the five sites being operational by the second half of 2022. The purchase will be between €138m and €145m.

The four sites on which the deal is conditional are part of the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS), meaning they will provide fixed-price revenues until 2037. RESS is a competitive, auction-based scheme from the Irish Government that invites renewable electricity projects to bid for capacity and receive a guaranteed price for the electricity they generate.

Acquisition of the fifth site is separately conditional on it securing a RESS contract in one of the scheme’s future auction rounds.

The first RESS auction in August 2020 saw Statkraft secure the largest contract of any bidder, and this month it began construction on the 200MW Ballymacarney solar farm. This farm is slated as Ireland’s largest photovoltaic (PV) site.

In December, Statkraft also announced its plans to construct two new windfarms in Ireland and said that it hopes to have 6GW of wind and 2GW of solar capacity in the country by 2025.

Earlier this month, London-listed ORIT raised £150m through a round of funding that was initially intended to total just £100m.

ORIT began as part of the Octopus Group, which also includes Octopus Energy, Octopus Renewables, Octopus Investments and Octopus Ventures, among others. Earlier this month, Octopus Ventures led a round of funding into smartphone leasing start-up Raylo.

Phil Austin, ORIT’s chair, commented: “I am delighted to announce ORIT’s first acquisition in Ireland, with this significant portfolio of solar PV sites. This acquisition, coming shortly after completion of our recent fundraise, will extend our presence into a fifth country, providing further geographic and revenue diversification.”

Chris Gaydon, investment director at Octopus Renewables, added: “Development of solar assets has picked up pace recently in Ireland, and the construction of these projects in Ireland will have a positive contribution to decreasing carbon emissions and helping Ireland on its path for a more renewable future.

“We are pleased to be working with Statkraft, the largest renewable energy producer in Europe, on this project.”

Jack Kennedy is a freelance journalist based in Dublin