‘The Irish Times’ Business Person of the Month: Eddie O’Connor

Mainstream Renewable Power chairman oversaw sale of wind farm to French company for €600m

The chairman of green energy group Mainstream Renewable Power, Eddie O'Connor, has been chosen as The Irish Times Business Person of the Month for May, an award run in association with KPMG.

Early last month, Mainstream sold a wind farm development off the Scottish coast to French utility Électricité de France (EDF) for a price reported to be more than €600 million.

According to Mainstream, the project, Neart na Gaoithe – the strength of the wind – will produce 450 mega watts of electricity, enough to power a city the size of Scottish capital Edinburgh, when it is completed.

This, though, would be variable rather than constant electricity. *


Neart na Gaoithe

The deal itself will pave the way for the opening of a grey market in Mainstream shares later this year, ahead of an expected stock market listing at the end of the decade. It also justified Mainstream’s decision to scrap a plan to raise €125 million last year by selling a stake in the Irish-based business to a US investor.

Mainstream came close to selling Neart na Gaoithe two years ago for €100 million but the deal fell through when the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds brought a legal challenge against all such developments. The British courts ruled against the charity last November.

O'Connor has long been associated with renewable energy. The onetime chief executive of Bord na Móna founded Airtricity in 1997, selling it 10 years later to Scottish & Southern Energy and German power giant EON for €2 billion.

He then founded Mainstream in 2008. The company now has offices in seven countries across four continents and employs more than 160 staff.

* This article was amended on December 17th, 2018