The project will be financed with long-term debt from a consortium of banks including the European Investment Bank (EIB), who are providing 50 per cent of the funding, as well as MUFG Bank, BNP Paribas and AIB.
Located between Crossmolina and Bangor Erris, the site was formerly used for peat harvesting by Bord na Móna to provide indigenous fuel for ESB’s peat fired power station at Bellacorick, up to its decommissioning in 2003. The country’s first commercial wind farm was established at the site in 1992.
Commenting on this significant milestone for the 89MW project, ESB Chief Executive Pat O’Doherty welcomed ESB’s collaboration with Bord na Móna, the EIB and the other financial institutions involved: “Through this project, we are building on a long history of indigenous electricity generation at Bellacorick and demonstrating our commitment to a low carbon future, powered by clean electricity. Oweninny wind farm will add to ESB’s existing portfolio of 16 wind farms on the island of Ireland and will support our strategy to significantly reduce the carbon intensity of the electricity we generate. Over the next decade, we will replace high carbon emitting generation with low carbon and renewable alternatives, and will collaborate with innovative, like-minded organisations such as Bord na Móna and the European Investment Bank, as well as AIB, BNP Paribas and MUFG, to lead Ireland’s transition to a clean energy future.”
Bord na Móna Managing Director Tom Donnellan said: “We have a long history in Mayo and this exciting new venture represents the next chapter in Bord na Móna reaching 1GW of renewable assets by 2030, which will power over half a million homes across the Country. Our vision is to enable a more sustainable Ireland by harnessing our natural resources and I welcome this milestone in the project. Ireland has to completely transform the way that we generate and consume energy for the future. Whilst peat production ceased in Oweninny some years ago, this joint venture with ESB demonstrates how we in Bord na Móna can best use our land bank of over 200,000 acres in order to support national policy to decarbonise by investing in new forms of renewable energy that are secure and sustainable. ”
The European Investment Bank (EIB), which is providing half the funding, is the world’s largest financier for renewable energy investment and technical experience gained from wind farms worldwide has helped strengthen the project. “The European Investment Bank’s €80 million financing for the new Oweninny wind farm – 50% of total funding – represents our largest ever investment in renewable energy generation in Ireland and the largest financing in Ireland to date under the Investment Plan for Europe,” said Andrew McDowell, EIB Vice President.
He added that: “Harnessing wind power to provide clean energy is crucial for Ireland to meet its EU and global climate commitments. That is why the European Investment Bank (EIB) – as the EU Bank and the world’s largest financier for renewable energy investment – is pleased to work with ESB, Bord na Mona and Irish and international banks to back this landmark investment for County Mayo, on the location of Ireland’s first ever commercial wind farm. Not only will this project contribute to Ireland’s climate action targets, but it will also power over 50,000 homes and is creating around one hundred local jobs during construction.”
European Commissioner Phil Hogan said: “This investment by the European Investment Bank and guaranteed by the Juncker Plan is a strong statement of support for the further development of clean energy in Ireland. The EU has and continues to be a leader in meeting the targets of the Paris Agreement and we all have a part to play. This €80 million investment from the EIB – the EU’s bank – has the potential to make a significant contribution to Ireland’s renewable energy and climate action targets, through the provision of clean energy to over 50 000 homes. The project also represents excellent collaboration on the part of the commercial semi-state sector as well as public and private sector banks.”
The EIB financing is part of the Investment Plan for Europe and backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments.
ESB and Bord na Móna have established a Community Benefit Scheme for the funding of local community projects and initiatives over the lifetime of the wind farm.