Mainstream signs $2bn deal to build windfarms in Vietnam

Eddie O’Connor’s renewable energy firm joins with US utilities giant GE on project

Stephen Swift, GE, Wilbur Ross, Secretary, US Department of Commerce, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Nguyen Viet Cuong, chairman of Phu Cuong, Pham Quoc Anh, GM Phu Cuong, Andy Kinsella, COO, Mainstream Renewable Power, Thang Bui Vinh, Mainstream Renewable Power

Stephen Swift, GE, Wilbur Ross, Secretary, US Department of Commerce, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Nguyen Viet Cuong, chairman of Phu Cuong, Pham Quoc Anh, GM Phu Cuong, Andy Kinsella, COO, Mainstream Renewable Power, Thang Bui Vinh, Mainstream Renewable Power

 

Mainstream Renewable Energy, the firm founded by businessman Eddie O’Connor, has signed a $2 billion investment deal with US utilities giant GE to build an 800mw wind project in Vietnam.

The agreement was signed at the Department of Commerce in Washington on Wednesday, to coincide with the visit of Vietnamese prime minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to the US where he is due to meet President Donald Trump at the White House.

The joint venture will see Mainstream construct the largest wind project of its kind in Asia in the Soc Trang province of Vietnam, and follows on from an investment decision announced last year during the visit of President Michael D Higgins to Vietnam. Mainstream represents 45 per cent of the joint venture, with GE contributing 25 per cent and local operator Phu Cuong Group with a 30 per cent stake.

The Vietnamese government has committed to produce 7.5gw of energy each year until 2030, which is equal to the entire electrical capacity of Ireland

Speaking in Washington, Mainstream’s chief operating officer Andy Kinsella said the aim was to begin construction on the first phase of the project by late 2018 or early 2019.

“The Vietnamese government has committed to produce 7.5gw of energy each year until 2030, which is equal to the entire electrical capacity of Ireland. A major constituent of this is renewables, with a target of 6gw of wind and 12gb of solar,” he said. He said the Irish energy industry had a long history of doing business in Vietnam, with ESB international sponsoring six Vietnamese people to do MBAs in Ireland, including former deputy prime minister Hoàng Trung Hai. “As a result, Vietnam was an obvious location for us when we decided to expand into Central America and southeast Asia,” he said.

Mainstream has recently started a process of acquiring about 200mw of projects in the Philippines, and has small offices in Manila and Hanoi. “We are also actively looking for projects in Indonesia, ” Mr Kinsella said.

Wednesday’s announcement was one of five agreements announced by GE valued at more than $5 billion involving the Vietnamese energy and aviation sectors.

The Vietnamese leader’s visit to the White House comes a few months after Mr Trump announced America’s withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership, an ambitious trade deal between the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries including Vietnam. While the Trump administration has vowed to prioritise American jobs and manufacturing in its approach to trade policy, Mr Phuc is likely to emphasise the US jobs and exports supported by Vietnamese investment, epitomised by companies such as GE which will manufacture the equipment used in the Phu Cuong wind farm.

Mr Phuc will be the first prime minister from the southeast Asia region to meet Mr Trump at the White House.