ESB in talks to buy stake in Scottish windfarm

Deal for 50% holding could come within weeks

The offshore wind farm project is owned by Electricite de France. Photograph: iStock

The offshore wind farm project is owned by Electricite de France. Photograph: iStock

 

ESB is in advanced talks to buy a stake in a Scottish offshore wind farm project owned by Electricite de France, sources said.

A deal for a 50 per cent holding in the Neart na Gaoithe development could be announced as soon as the next few weeks.

EDF bought the asset from Mainstream Renewable Power last year for an undisclosed amount. At the time, EDF said it would open the project to other investors in due course. The 450-megawatt facility is set to cost about £1.8 billion pounds (€2.08 billion) to build and will supply enough electricity for 375,000 homes. It is due to be commissioned in 2023, the French state-controlled utility has said.

No final agreements have been reached, and talks could still be delayed or fall apart, the sources said. Representatives for ESB and EDF’s renewables unit declined to comment.

Share the costs

Offshore wind developers typically share the costs and risks associated with the development of capital-intensive facilities at sea. The sale would also help EDF meet its target to sell as much as €3 billion of assets to curb debt. It’s struggling to maintain enough of a cash flow buffer to cover day-to-day maintenance costs and investments in new nuclear and renewable facilities.

Earlier this year, the French utility completed the sale of its 25 per cent stake in Swiss power producer Alpiq Holding for 489 million francs (€445 million). EDF agreed in July to sell a package of oil and gas assets for as much as $850 million. – Bloomberg