Home / News
The acquisition of a 177MW wind portfolio from hg Capital, which includes the developer Ridgewind, was completed this week. Blue Energy expects to invest £250 million to acquire RidgeWind and build its development portfolio.
RidgeWind, founded in 2003, is one of the UK’s leading independent onshore wind farm developers with a portfolio of 45MW of projects in late stage construction, 132MW with planning permission, and a significant development pipeline.
RidgeWind marks a step change in its onshore wind development and investment programme. The acquisition was funded by Blue Energy’s shareholders, with support from the company’s relationship bank Santander.
Blue Energy CEO Chris Dean said: “This transaction is an important milestone for the growth of Blue Energy and demonstrates our strong commitment to the UK onshore wind sector. Blue Energy has ambitious growth plans and we aim to progress further transactions of a similar nature in the UK wind sector this year. RidgeWind gives us a strong portfolio, and an experienced development team who have pioneered innovative community benefit schemes, which are so important in winning local support for wind farms."
Two RidgeWind projects are about to become operational: Hall Farm, a 24.6MW wind farm near Beverley, in Yorkshire, is due to commence generation this week and the 20.5MW Wandylaw farm, north of Alnwick, Northumberland, is due to complete and commence generation in March. RidgeWind also has planning permission for four more wind farms: Beinneun, an 85MW project near Invergarry, Inverness-shire; Middlewick, 20.7MW near Southminster, Essex;Nutsgrove, 14.35MW near Peterborough; and Grange, 12.3MW near Scunthorpe, Lincs.
The RidgeWind team will be integrated into Blue Energy. Development of RidgeWind’s existing projects will continue uninterrupted and new projects will be developed under the Blue Energy banner. Collectively the members of RidgeWind’s team have more than 60 years of rural land management experience and more than 60 years of energy development experience.
Exciting times ahead for Blue Energy who plans further significant UK onshore wind acquisitions in 2013.
For further information about Ridgewind.
Blue Energy is to build Africa’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in a move which could spark a renewable energy revolution in West Africa.
The giant 155-megawatt Nzema project will be one of the biggest in the world – only three solar PV plants in operation today are bigger. It will increase Ghana’s current generating capacity by 6% and will meet 20% of the government’s target of generating 10% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
The Nzema project will be the first to go ahead under Ghana’s 2011 Renewable Energy Act, which set up a system of feed-in tariffs, and it is a success for the government’s policy of attracting international finance. Last month Energy Minister Joe Oteng-Adjei announced he was seeking $1 billion of private investment to help Ghana achieve its renewables target.
The US $400 million scheme, which will be fully operational in 2015, demonstrates Blue Energy’s ability to mount major projects in the region. The UK-based renewable energy investor and developer plans to develop further renewable energy power plants in West Africa and has a number of projects in the pipeline.
AFRICA’S RENEWABLES POTENTIAL
Chris Dean, CEO of Blue Energy, said: “Ghana’s forward-thinking strategy puts it in a strong position to lead the renewable energy revolution in sub-Saharan Africa. Nzema is a case study in how governments can unlock the huge potential for solar energy in Africa. We are delighted that it will make a strong contribution to the national economy, provide much needed generating capacity and help develop the skills of the future.”
He added: “There’s huge potential to develop renewable power in the region. We believe Nzema will show other countries what can be achieved and spur them to action.”
Blue Energy has secured all the consents it needs to go ahead with the project. Ghana’s electricity regulators, the Energy Commission and the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission, have awarded it a generation licence and a feed-in tariff for the plant’s 20-year operational life.
INTERNATIONAL FINANCE INTEREST
Blue Energy will now conclude discussions with a number of international financial institutions and global equity and infrastructure funds which have expressed interest in providing debt financing or investing in the project. It expects to reach financial close in the first half of 2013.
The Nzema plant will be built by a subsidiary of Blue Energy, Mere Power Nzema Ltd, on a 183- hectare site close to the village of Aiwiaso in Western Ghana. It has secured a 100-year lease on the site, planning permission and permission to connect to the grid.
ECONOMIC GROWTH PROSPECTS
The site enjoys good solar radiation, has excellent access to the major road system and is within easy reach of a deep water port at Takoradi. The plant will be directly connected to the 161kV West African Power Pool transmission line, which runs alongside the site, linking Ghana to Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin and Nigeria, and has available capacity for its load.
Installation of more than 630,000 solar PV modules will begin by the end of 2013 and electricity generation will start early the next year, with sections coming on stream as they are completed. The project is due to reach full capacity by October 2015.
The project will boost the economy of Western Ghana. It will create 500 jobs over the two-year construction period and 200 permanent jobs in operation. It is also expected to stimulate another 2100 jobs in the local economy, by sub-contracting activities to local companies and increasing demand for goods, services and education.
The company has put in place a wide-ranging program to satisfy its corporate social responsibility obligations and enjoys extensive support from local communities. They will also benefit through land lease revenues, access to reliable electricity, new healthcare facilities, skills training, investment in schools, and support for community projects and small businesses.
Nzema is expected to contribute US$100 million in tax to Ghana’s government over the lifetime of the project. Its clean energy will avoid emissions of 5.5 million tonnes of CO2 (based on an oil-fired power station with equivalent output).
Ghana is one of the fastest growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa, with 14.4% GDP growth in 2011. Demand for power is growing at 10-15% a year, but lack of reliable generating capacity has acted as a brake on the economy: power shortages are estimated to have cost 1.9% of GDP in 2006. Much of Ghana’s electricity is hydroelectric, but this is vulnerable to drought, and the country is increasingly reliant on expensive oil generation.
The government has set a target of more than doubling its installed capacity, from 2600 MW today to 5500MW by 2015. The Renewable Energy Act is a key part of this strategy and enjoys all party political support.
THE LONG TERM OPPORTUNITY
Africa is ideally placed to take advantage of solar energy, but up to now it has failed to take off for a variety of reasons including unsupportive regulatory environments, energy underpricing, lack of technical capacity and a weak supply chain. In meeting the Act’s target of generating 10% of energy through renewables, Ghana will develop skills, industries, and government and regulatory experience to take advantage of future investment opportunities throughout the continent.
Blue Energy, have secured £10million investment from the Cooperative Bank for its latest wind farm site.
The Hill of Auquhirie site near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire will soon be home to three Enercon e70 2.3MW turbines which will generate in excess of 17GW/h per year, enough electricity to power over 3,500 homes in the area. The annual CO2 offset will be over 8,000 tonnes.
Blue Energy’s contractors, Geddes, and Enercon’s contractors, Raymond Brown, are already on-site and are working to a completion date of December 2012. The £10million investment will give a major boost to the local economy and will create up to 12 new local jobs during the construction process and on-going operational phase.
This is the latest addition to Blue Energy’s renewable estate which includes Westmill, one of the UK’s largest solar farms.
Guy Johnston of Blue Energy commented, “We are delighted to have project financed the Auquhirie wind farm with Cooperative Bank. This is our first project in Scotland; the wind farm is due to become operational by the end of 2012 and will not only produce renewable electricity to local communities, but will create valuable jobs in the Aberdeenshire area”.
The £10million debt finance deal from Cooperative Bank is part of their Ethical Plan which commits £1bn to fund energy efficiencies and renewables.
Blue Energy are keen to help with funding for any wind farm sites with planning permission.
We are delighted to welcome two outstanding new people to the Blue Energy team in Alderley Edge.
Patrick Keogh joins us from Peel Energy, where he was Onshore Wind Development Manager.
Patrick joins our Wind Development team, where we’re sure he will have an immediate impact in expanding and developing the Blue Energy project pipeline. Patrick is an onshore wind specialist and his knowledge and experience will be invaluable to Blue Energy.
The second of our new arrivals is Jayne Ridings who joins us as Acting Office Manager, and Jayne will play an important role as Blue Energy grows.
Jayne has significant management experience across a variety of sectors and her background in property and facilities management at Mitie is especially useful. Jayne also brings a wealth of HR skills and experience and will be a valuable addition to our business.
Blue Energy is fortunate to have both of them on board.
We are delighted that phase 1 of our renewable energy installation at Marston Vale Country Park has been completed.
A 50 KW solar system has been installed on the roof of the visitor centre, to provide year-round electricity to the park.
Marston Vale Country Park is a millenium forest open to the public, owned by a charitable trust. They are naturally keen to generate as much of their own electricity, in an environmentally-friendly way, as possible. Any energy that is surplus to their requirements will be sold back to the grid.
Blue Energy funded the project and project managed the installation. The bespoke PV solar panel system was installed by J T Hawkes of Birmingham.
Also underway at Marston Vale is the installation of a wind turbine due for completion in Spring 2013. This will provide all the electricity for the forest centre, making it powered entirely by renewable energy.
Gatwick Airport is the location for Blue Energy's latest solar installation. The 50 KW ground-mounted system will supply electricity to Gatwick's private wire network.
The project was completed on time and within budget before the December FIT deadline. Blue Energy procured the development, design and installation and the 212 modules were supplied by Blue Energy Wholesale.
6.9MW WIND FARM - UP TO 12 NEW JOBS CREATED.
Blue Energy have successfully concluded the purchase of the Hillhead of Auquhirie wind farm site near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire. With a total investment of over £10 million this gives a major boost to the local economy.
The site was purchased with planning consent for 3 x 2.3MW Enercon Wind Turbines and will generate in excess of 17 GW/h of electricity per year, which is enough to power over 3,500 local homes in the area. In addition, this will lead to an annual CO2 offset of over 8,000 tonnes per year.
In addition to the obvious commercial and environmental benefits that this project offers, up to 12 new jobs will be created during the construction process and local maintenance contracts over the course of the 25 year operational phase.
The vendors were Polar Energy, based in Aberdeenshire.
Guy Johnston of Blue Energy said, “We are delighted to have acquired the Auquhirie wind farm, which is our first project in Scotland. The wind farm is due to become operational by the end of 2012 and will not only produce renewable electricity to local communities, but will create valuable jobs in the Aberdeenshire area”.
Lloyd Garvie of Polar Energy said “We are pleased to have concluded the sale of the Hillhead of Auquhirie site to Blue Energy whom we have faith in to develop the site to its full potential in future. We are working on several other sites in Aberdeenshire and Angus and we hope to continue our successful relationship with Blue Energy”.
We are delighted to announce three new senior members of staff joining us in Alderley Edge. Stuart Noble joins us as Finance Director from No Ordinary Hotels. Douglas Coleman brings his vast experience in the renewable energy sector to become our Special Projects Director, to lead new large-scale projects in the UK and overseas. Martin Mellish, our new Wholesale Manager will be managing our wholesale division, supplying quality solar PV panels to the trade.
We are proud to announce Blue Energy’s completion of the UK’s largest source of solar power after only 8 weeks of construction. The solar farm, now connected to the national grid, began harvesting sunlight at 4pm on 19th July 2011.
Westmill is now the location of Britain’s first combined green energy zone with power coming from the adjoining solar and wind farms located in the Wiltshire countryside. The farms will now supply the equivalent of at least 4000 homes for at least the next 25 years.
Power from the 23,000 solar panels - more than any other UK solar farm installation - began supplying electricity on July 20 with the photovoltaic plates providing an output of nearly 5 MWp of energy.
Our managing director, Chris Dean, said: “To complete the UK’s largest solar energy farm in such a short period of time is a tremendous achievement.
“We have worked successfully with several other partners around the clock to finish this unique solar project, before the government’s deadline puts an end to projects of this scale.
“The installation offsets 3,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, it will provide power for a minimum of 25 years and from an aesthetic point of view, it is quite a sight to behold.”
We used state-of-the-art AuO solar panels from the German company Abakus, which were installed to ensure that the required 4.986MWp of energy was provided at maximum efficiency.
With the assistance of Mark Shorrock, CEO of Low Carbon Solar, which handled planning and grid application processes, we were able to achieve this remarkable feat.
Mr Shorrock said: “Westmill is a great example of how land, not suitable for agricultural use in the UK, can be harnessed for renewable energy and ensure the provision of more secure and reliable energy for the UK’s future.”
The new solar farm will be the subject of the UK’s largest community co-operative scheme later this year, giving local residents among other shareholders ownership of the unique project. This follows a similar scheme organised for Westmill Wind Farm in 2007 when 2,500 residents raised £5m to build the community owned turbines.
Share offers will be launched in October through Westmill Solar Co-operative with support from Energy 4 All, experts in community-owned renewable energy schemes. It is expected to be open for only 6 weeks and raise around £3 million offering investors the chance to invest between £250 and £20,000 with an average return of 10 per cent over 25 years.
Adam Twine, a director of Westmill Solar Co-op and who farms at Westmill Farm where the projects are situated, said: “Local ownership of a solar farm in the UK on this scale will be a first. We expect to be oversubscribed for the share offer as we were for a similar scheme involving the wind farm.
“It’s our hope that this model of local people taking positive action to address climate change and generate renewable energy effectively in their own community will be replicated across the UK.”
After completing this project we have decided as a company that Blue Energy will now focus on providing solar schemes for residential settings, following the government’s decision to curtail feed-in tariff levels associated with large-scale solar projects as of August 1.
We are currently in the process of tailoring solar energy projects with incorporated investment schemes for private dwellings across the UK, with MD Chris Dean adding that residential projects are set to begin 9th September 2011 in locations around the south of England.
A crane's-eye view: