Article

Making floating wind bankable

A WORD ABOUT WIND
23 April 2020

Clément Weber gives his views on why non-recourse debt has never been raised for floating offshore wind to date and how to release it. Recent development of floating offshore wind and promising market prospect: will finance be the bottleneck?  In 1991, the first offshore wind turbines were built in front of the Vindeby town in Denmark. It took 10 years to build a first commercial size project and 5 more years before private banks were able to take construction risk on a non-recourse basis, financing the Q7 project in the Netherlands. This first “project finance” milestone in an industry which is now mobilising a billion euros a month from senior lenders was only made possible by a combination of factors: in-depth due diligence of the technology, protective contractual structure, strong insurance coverage and contingency planning, tailor-made financial structure and a specific focus on interface risks. The floating offshore wind sector follows a similar route, with the first prototypes installed 10 years ago, pilot wind farms now under construction, commercial wind farms under development and an extraordinary potential of multi-GW yearly installation post-2030.  Firstly, are we sure that the pioneering expansion of floating offshore wind is all that new? Floating platforms have been used in the oil and gas sector for decades and applying them to a mature offshore wind sector could be seen as part of the natural incremental innovation of the industry. After all, lenders have closed billion-euro scale financings for offshore wind projects using (for most of them) a combination of brand new turbine models with only a few prototypes in the water, massive vessels just out of the docks, XXL monopiles 20% larger than the immediate previous generation and/or new installation methods.  How to make a floating offshore wind project bankable? Although it is undeniable that its proximity to the fixed offshore wind sector will ease the learning curve, the answer is that the finance community currently considers floating technology as more than a simple evolution within an established sector. Structuring a project to raise non-recourse debt for the first floating offshore wind projects therefore needs to be done in a way that makes banks comfortable to unlock a whole new sector in the face of “unknown unknowns.”  What it means is that in addition to the usual bank requirements for offshore wind, developers must ensure that the following structuring features are carefully considered:  1. General – keep it simple: raising project finance for the first floating projects is a major ask and projects need to balance the novelty with an otherwise robust proposal: strong sponsors, experienced supply chain, low country sovereign risk, skilled project team and proven technology for the turbine, and limited or no revenue risk. 2. Technical – pick a proven technology: the lenders will favour the most proven technologies with prototypes already in the water, developed by solid counterparties. Despite IP concerns, a particular focus will be put on the transparency provided to the lenders’ technical advisor towards the review of the technology. Developers and technology providers should be ready to provide data from the existing prototypes. This will apply to all aspects of technology novelty (mooring, dynamic cables, potentially vessels) and not just to the floating foundation.  3. Contractual – target a healthy structure without loopholes: contracts will have to be particularly protective.  – A limited number of construction contracts (2 to 6) are preferred.   – Full-scope, fixed-price and long-term O&M contracts must be in place from financial close.   – Terms and levels of liquidated damages and guarantees need to be high.   – The interface risk will be scrutinised, with a focus on any gap remaining between the foundation and turbine contracts.  – The commitment of the floating manufacturer to ensure valid production conditions for the turbine (inclination, etc) will be specifically scrutinised. 4. Financial – find the optimum: the overall finance structure should not be too aggressive. Ample contingency budgets will be required to cater for cost overruns, or heavier than expected maintenance, as well as standard reserve accounts and debt sizing ratios on the conservative side. 5. Insurance – don’t forget the other risk takers: despite a risk analysis similar to what is done by the lenders, the insurance market is largely independent, yet essential. A few very specialised insurance advisors that have played a major role to make offshore wind insurable can now educate insurance parties to floating and projects should involve them without delay.  Current appetite in the debt and equity market? On the lenders side, the EIB, a couple of ECAs and a handful of commercial banks have already received narrow credit committee approvals to lend to the right floating asset. Some projects will not reach the “bankability” trigger. Other projects with a structure in line with the recommendations above will attract these lenders and others. Those will be financed under terms that will remain fairly attractive: long term tenor, 60-70% debt-to-equity ratio, circa 2% margin.  The future of floating is bright, and one may fear that the imbalance between this limited funding currently available for the very best projects and the tens of GW to be financed would lead to a bottleneck. On the contrary, we believe that the initial pool of lenders will expand in parallel with the development of the sector, as the feedback from the first transactions will filter unfounded worries from the real challenges. 
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Article

Polish Offshore: On the Verge

PFI YEARBOOK 2020
6 January 2020

As politics and business come together to boost offshore wind in the Baltic sea, PFI asked Udo Schneider to author a piece in Yearbook 2020 on his view of the policies that are due to shape this flourishing industry. Is Polish offshore wind about to be unlocked? Green Giraffe has been following the market for a long time and has been active over the years, we assisted in the recent sale of a portfolio of four offshore wind projects with a total generation capacity of more than 1.5 GW to RWE Renewables including the F.E.W. Baltic II project. As a partner to Baltic Trade and Invest, Green Giraffe was responsible for the commercial structuring of the projects since 2017 as well as defined and executed the divestment strategy as exclusive financial advisors to the owners. A process that didn’t go without hurdles as key value drivers such as permitting status, access to grid connection and offtake routes have been and remain moving targets for most projects. As politics and business come together to boost offshore wind in the Baltic sea, PFI asked Udo Schneider to author a piece in Yearbook 2020 on his view of the policies that are due to shape this flourishing industry.
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Article

Leading voices in floating wind explore challenges ahead

RECHARGE
30 April 2018

Recharge News has prepared a special report on floating wind on the occasion of the Marseilles FOWT2018 conference and we were asked to provide a contribution. Recharge News has kindly authorized us to make their report available for download and to copy below the contribution on the bankability of the sector prepared by Jérôme Guillet, one of our Managing Directors, and Martin Guzzetti, who made an associated presentation on the topic at the Marseilles event.  
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Article

Consortium excited with winning tender for Borssele V

Press release
6 April 2018

The Two Towers consortium, consisting of Van Oord, Investri Offshore and Green Giraffe, has won the tender for Borssele Wind Farm Site V. MHI Vestas Offshore Wind is the preferred supplier for the wind turbines. Consortium excited with winning tender for Borssele V Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 6 April 2018 – The Two Towers consortium, consisting of Van Oord, Investri Offshore and Green Giraffe, has won the tender for Borssele Wind Farm Site V. MHI Vestas Offshore Wind is the preferred supplier for the wind turbines. Borssele V has been designated as an innovation site, situated within site III of the Borssele Wind Farm Zone. The offshore wind farm is located more than 20 kilometres off the coast of Zeeland, the Netherlands and consists of two turbines of 9.5 MW each. Once operational in 2021, the 19 MW offshore wind farm will provide sustainable energy to 25,000 households. Van Oord is responsible for the design and the offshore works, while Green Giraffe will assist in the project management and financing of the project. Investri Offshore provides the project director.
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Article

Green Giraffe and Cathay United Bank co-mandated in Taiwan

Press release
1 February 2018

Green Giraffe has been mandated as lead international financial advisor alongside Cathay United Bank as local financial advisor for the Hai Long 2 & 3 offshore wind projects in Taiwan. Located in the Taiwan Strait, the projects could reach around 1 GW and are owned by Yushan Energy (40%) and Northland Power (60%). The projects have successfully passed the EIA (environmental impact assessment) in 2017 and will participate in the Taiwanese selection process and submit an application on March 30, 2018 with the aim to receive a feed-in-tariff and grid connection. John Pires, Vice President, Head of M&A and Project Finance at Northland Power Inc. said “Northland Power Inc. is excited to once again work with Green Giraffe, our long-standing partner for offshore wind project finance advice.  Similarly, we are equally excited to work with and start a new relationship with Cathay United Bank, one of Taiwan’s leading private banks. Along with our partner Yushan Energy Co. Ltd., we feel that Green Giraffe’s extensive offshore wind project finance experience, coupled with Cathay United Bank’s strong Taiwan banking knowledge, is an exceptional partnership that will position the Hai Long 2 and Hai Long 3 projects to succeed in Taiwan.”      These projects would directly contribute to Taiwan’s goal to develop up to 5.5 GW of renewable energy by 2025. Tsung-hua Chen, Chief Executive Officer, of Yushan Energy Co. Ltd. indicated “Yushan Energy Co. Ltd. is very happy to be working with Green Giraffe and Cathay United Bank to develop the financing strategy for the Hai Long 2 and Hai Long 3 projects in Taiwan.  Each of Green Giraffe and Cathay United Bank are leaders in their fields, with impressive experience, strong professionals and a track record of success.  Together with our partner Northland Power Inc., we look forward to working with Green Giraffe and Cathay United Bank to bring the Hai Long 2 and Hai Long 3 projects long-term success in Taiwan.”  Photo credit
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Article

Neoen raises global portfolio mezzanine debt

Press release
18 December 2017

Green Giraffe raised EUR 245 M mezzanine debt in 3 currencies on a 1.6 GW worldwide portfolio of onshore wind and solar assets in development, construction and operation. Green Giraffe advised Neoen, a leading French renewable energy producer, on raising a mezzanine debt financing for a 1.6 GW global portfolio of renewable onshore wind and solar projects. The portfolio consisted of 42 projects in France, Australia and emerging markets. The projects are either in final development stage, under construction or in operation. The mezzanine financing was closed in 3 cross-collateralized currency tranches (EUR, USD and AUD), with an aggregate equivalent commitment of EUR 245 M. The financing closed on 14 December 2017 and was validated as a “green bond” following environmental, social and governance due diligence by Vigeo Eiris, a recognised independent expert. The bond has an attractive 20-year tenor and is provided at a holding company level dedicated to this financing, with no recourse to the parent company. It is then structurally subordinated to existing senior loans at the individual project level. The bondholders are AMP Capital, an international investment manager headquartered in Sydney, Australia. The financing provides financial resources for Neoen’s diversified pipeline of projects around the world, without diluting Neoen’s share ownership in its plants, and adds high-quality renewable energy assets to AMP Capital’s infrastructure debt portfolio. Charlie Canevet, Corporate Finance Director of Neoen: “The signing of this 245 million euro junior green bond is yet another achievement for Neoen and Green Giraffe. This is a unique project, with a large portfolio of assets and multiple currencies and geographies. Green Giraffe’s efficient and professional work throughout the process was key to closing such a complex transaction with highly attractive terms, notably the 20-year tenor.” Emma Haight-Cheng, AMP Capital Infrastructure Debt Partner: “The portfolio we are funding represents a unique business, by virtue of its scale, geographic and technological diversification as well as the expertise within Neoen underlying its development. France and Australia account for more than 80 per cent of the portfolio, representing robust, stable energy markets with transparent regulatory regimes and a history of support for renewable energy. We view the investment as offering robust and highly attractive risk-adjusted returns. We were delighted by the experience of working with Green Giraffe as Financial Advisor on this complex transaction, and we would like to sincerely thank them for their efforts to assist the transaction reaching financial close.”  Neoen was also advised by De Pardieu Brocas Maffei (legal). AMP Capital was advised by Everoze (technical) and Watson Farley Williams (legal). Project page: https://green-giraffe.eu/projects/neptune-2#detail
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Article

Valeco and Mirova sign the financing of 75 MW onshore wind under the new French CfD scheme

Press release
27 July 2017

On Thursday 27 July 2017 Valeco and Mirova signed the financing of the second of three batches of projects foreseen within the 180 MW Masai financing framework (signed in November 2016 with CEPAC, Auxifip and Crédit Agricole Languedoc agency). This batch is composed of three wind farms located in France for a cumulative capacity of 75 MW and a debt envelope of EUR 91 M of long term loan and EUR 13 M of VAT loan. This is one of the very first financings of a renewable energy plant under the recently passed contract-for-difference legislation in France. A private PPA was signed for each SPV, which was validated by the lenders, and the financial structure had to be adjusted to take account of the new risk structure involved by this regulation, notably an assessment of the number of hours where electricity price are expected to be negative.  In addition to Green Giraffe, DLA Piper (legal) and Noveo Finance (hedge) advised the borrowers while Linklaters (legal), Everoze (technical), Deloitte (model audit, tax & accounting), Gras Savoye (insurance) and IHS (electricity price) advised the lenders.
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Article

Comparative Analysis of International Offshore Wind Energy Development

IEA-RETD
29 March 2017

Green Giraffe was invited contribute to a report by the International Energy Agency’s Renewable Energy Technology Deployment programme (IEA-RETD) highlighting the importance of effective policy in stimulating deployment and driving cost reduction in the offshore wind sector. A new report published today by the International Energy Agency’s Renewable Energy Technology Deployment programme (IEA-RETD) highlights the importance of effective policy in stimulating deployment and driving cost reduction in the offshore wind sector. Following a year of record breaking auction prices in the Netherlands and Denmark, the study identifies the key success factors that have supported a burgeoning industry in Europe, drawing lessons learned for both policy makers and industry players. Green Giraffe was invited to contribute to the report, to draw on our unique experience in the sector. We contributed to the content by providing underlying data and comments. The report, which is delivered through a collaboration between the Carbon Trust, Mott MacDonald, and Green Giraffe, projects that global offshore wind capacity is set to increase threefold in the period from 2015 to 2020, marking a period of industry maturation as costs fall and new offshore wind markets emerge, both within and beyond Europe. Cost reduction of 60% from 2010 to 2017 indicates that industry targets for 2025 have been exceeded 8 years ahead of schedule, suggesting that offshore wind could potentially be fully integrated into the market on a competitive basis in some European countries within the next decade. However, the report suggests that a more cautionary approach is expected in new markets with less established industry structures, such as the United States and East Asia. Analysis of the evolution of regulatory frameworks identifies several examples of best practice, underpinned by the need for political stability and visibility of market scale and support mechanisms. Notable recent policy trends include the introduction of competitive auctions and centralised development models, in which government bodies take on a greater role in the development process. These trends are seen to be having a considerable impact on the risk profile for developers, with increased allocation and price risk countered by reduced development and technical risk. In combination, this is resulting in lower perceived risks from the finance community due to growing confidence in the ability of developers and the supply chain, with offshore wind increasingly considered an attractive investment opportunity for a more diverse range of actors. “This report is a must-read for policy makers and industry stakeholders in established and emerging markets to understand the key factors of successful offshore wind deployment. The numerous case studies and detailed recommendations give valuable insights that show the state-of-the-art of this promising renewable energy sector.” David de Jager, Operating Agent for the IEA-RETD “The offshore wind industry is a major success story, as demonstrated by the steep cost reduction achieved in recent years. The progress made has been underpinned by supportive policy frameworks, but continued support is necessary to drive long-term cost reduction and open new markets for offshore wind on a global scale. This report highlights a number of lessons learned that can serve as best practice for policymakers.” Rhodri James, Manager at the Carbon Trust “Offshore wind is moving to the next stage of its evolution as evidenced by the results of recent auctions. The significant cost reductions observed will further bolster its standing as a key contributor to the European energy mix, while also enabling it to become truly global. This report is invaluable in highlighting the current state of play and key lessons learned to further support policy making.” Christos Kolliatsas, Divisional Director for Hydro and Renewables at Mott MacDonald “With its current track record and demonstrably lower production costs, offshore wind has a bright future, in Europe and elsewhere. Like all infrastructure activity, it combines high upfront investments with low operating costs, and requires a solid regulatory framework to ensure that early development can be fostered and that industrial maturity can be reached quickly. This report shows what has been done in the past and what worked. As such, it is a precious policy tool and thus a document that will directly help the industry.” Jérôme Guillet, Managing Director at Green Giraffe Recommendations for policymakers and industry players include: Governments should re-evaluate their offshore wind ambitions in light of accelerated cost reduction Governments should consider implementing near-term roadmaps to hedge against long-term uncertainty Competitive auctions can drive down costs, but should be accompanied by government de-risking activities Governments and industry players should continue investing in technology innovation to achieve long-term cost reduction Industry players should embrace collaboration to share the cost and risk of delivering large-scale projects and undertaking R&D activities Industry players should engage more with the public to highlight successes and improve the public perception of the offshore wind industry Click here for the full report Jérôme Guillet co-founded Green Giraffe in 2010 and was a Managing Director until 2021.
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Article

Stevin welcomes Rentel to the grid (PF International)

PROJECT FINANCE INTERNATIONAL
20 December 2016

On 3 October 2016, the 309 MW Rentel offshore wind farm reached financial close. The deal represented the first offshore wind farm to close since the Stevin grid project was approved. On 3 October 2016 Rentel offshore wind farm reached financial close. The deal represented the first Belgian offshore wind farm to reach financial close under the new support mechanism, and the first project that will use a new grid connection for offshore wind farms, bringing renewable electricity to the country via the Stevin onshore connection. In this article Clément Weber, Director and Jérôme Guillet, Managing Director of Green Giraffe give their view on the first project to be financed since Stevin was approved.
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Article

Energy storage and PV the merit order effect

PV SOLAR ENERGY CONFERENCE MUNICH
20 June 2016

Frederico Sanches and Henri Gouzerh proposed a method to quantify the merit order effect of solar PV combined with centralised or decentralised storage in Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Switzerland (GFIAS) for the period 2007-2015. They calculated the savings for power purchasers generated by the decrease in electricity spot market prices observed when solar PV plants feed electricity into the grid, first without storage and also by adding de-centralized storage capability to the PV capacity and shifting the use of centralized storage (e.g. pump-hydro storage) to benefit from the merit order effect. This study has three main findings: » Without storage, the overall savings over the past 10 years amounts to around EUR 31 bn for the whole GFIAS region and the average wholesale prices would have been 4 % higher had there not been any PV production; » Combining PV with decentralized storage system does not currently contribute positively on the aggregate metrics, though in 2014 and 2015 small increases in the merit order effect were observed suggesting that some optimization may be possible; » Where the centralized storage is used in conjunction with PV, the aggregate gain increases to EUR 33 bn (with a storage capacity of 25 GW). Those findings clearly underline the social value of the power generated by solar PV in conjunction with storage. Frederico Sanches and Henri Gouzerh presented this article at the European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition in Munich in June 2016.
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Offshore wind breakfast briefing

Inspiratia
26 May 2016

Jérôme Guillet was invited to speak at an inspiratia-organised panel to discuss offshore wind finance in London on 26 May. The attached document is the summary prepared by inspiratia of the event. We highlight the following quote: “Many in the market thought Veja Mate’s pricing was about as low as offshore wind could currently go, but even these terms are understood to have been undercut by Rentel in Belgium, which is expected to reach financial close before the summer.” Jérôme Guillet, one of the founders of Green Giraffe, which advised on Veja Mate and is acting in a similar capacity on Rentel, said the pricing squeeze suggests there is still plenty of appetite from banks. Jérôme Guillet co-founded Green Giraffe in 2010 and was a Managing Director until 2021.
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IEA case studies: Veja Mate, Gemini and Nordsee One

INTERNATIONAL ENERGY AGENCY
16 March 2016

The IEA-RETD brochure on the case studies of successful renewable energy financing has now been officially published. Green Giraffe has contributed the case studies of Veja Mate, Nordsee One and Gemini. The IEA-RETD is one of a number of Implementing Agreements on renewable energy under the framework of the International Energy Agency (IEA). RETD stands for Renewable Energy Technology Deployment. For the full brochure click here
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Velocita reaches financial close 47 MW

Press release
29 January 2016

The European renewable energy developer and operator, Velocita Energy Developments announced the £76m portfolio project financing of the Airies wind farm in Dumfries and Galloway, and the Sorbie wind farm in North Ayrshire. Green Giraffe was mandated in 2015 by Velocita to assist in the debt raising process for the construction of a 47 MW onshore wind portfolio which closed on 28 January 2016  Financial Close reached for Scottish Wind Farms Velocita Energy Developments secures non-recourse financing for two onshore Wind Farms in Dumfries & Galloway and North Ayrshire. The European renewable energy developer and operator, Velocita Energy Developments (“Velocita”) announced today the £76m portfolio project financing of the Airies wind farm in Dumfries and Galloway, and the Sorbie wind farm in North Ayrshire. The financing arrangement with the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (“BTMU”) is Velocita’s second project in Scotland following the merger with 2020 Renewables in July 2012. The deal follows on from the successful €200m financing of the 120 MW Vaite-Bussiere, Rougemont-Baume 1 and Rougemont-Baume 2 wind farms closed in France in December 2015. The 7.05 MW Sorbie project and the larger 39.9 MW Airies project are both due to be accredited under the outgoing Renewables Obligation (RO) regime. Construction began in January 2016 for Airies wind farm and will start in late February 2016 for Sorbie wind farm, both are expected to start operations in February 2017. Airies & Sorbie have been developed by 2020 Renewables and will be built and operated by Velocita. I&H Brown has been contracted to undertake civil and electrical infrastructure works. General Electric will supply the 14 GE2.85-103 2.85 MW wind turbines with 80m hub height for the Airies Wind Farm as well as providing operations and maintenance services under a long term contract, meanwhile Enercon will supply the 3 E82-E4 2.35 MW turbines with 58.9m hub height and provide long term operations and maintenance services for the Sorbie wind farm. Electricity will be sold to ENGIE (formerly GDF SUEZ) under a long term Power Purchase Agreement. Scotland is already providing over a third of the UK’s renewable electricity at a time where there is an increasingly tight gap between electricity supply and demand. Once operational, the project will make a valuable contribution to Scotland’s ambitious renewable energy targets, providing clean, green electricity. Alan Baker – Chief Operating Officer of Velocita said “These are only two of four projects that we plan to secure project financing on during 2016 in advance of the proposed Renewables Obligation closure deadline” Velocita has been advised by Brodies LLP, Wright Johnston & Mackenzie, Green Giraffe, and JC RA. Meanwhile, DNV GL, DLA Piper, Marsh, and BDO acted for BTMU.
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Article

Sunport closes transaction

Press release
14 January 2016

Groningen Sea Ports, Sunport Energy and Wirsol announced on 14 January 2016 the sale of the Sunport Delfzijl solar park by Sunport Energy to Wirsol as well as the signature of the land use agreement between Groningen Sea Ports and Sunport Delfzijl for the construction and exploitation of the project. These key contracts will enable the construction of a 30 MWp solar park, initially developed by Sunport Energy, on 30 hectares in the south-west corner of the Delfzijl harbour area of Groningen Sea Ports. It will be by far the largest solar park in The Netherlands. Green Giraffe was involved as financial advisor to Sunport Delfzijl and actively supported in the final phase of project development and contract negotiations, including the bid for the SDE+ tariff. Here are the full press releases in English and in Dutch.
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Article

Predictions for renewable energy finance in 2016

Inspiratia
6 January 2016

Professional publication inspiratia has published predictions for renewable energy finance in 2016 by various experts in the field, including one from Green Giraffe Managing Director Jérôme Guillet. “2016 will likely be the first time we see more than 10 offshore wind financings in one year. Some may not close until 2017 but the processes will certainly start next year. There are projects in Belgium, Germany, the UK, plus the Dutch and Danish tenders – and we could also see the first projects in France coming to market.  There’s probably going to be a few refinancings, as well as several asset sales – some of which could include debt financing. Altogether, 2015 was amazingly active, but 2016 promises to be even better. There is a lot of liquidity in the market and that will continue, with more banks coming in, larger tickets available and institutional investors clearly attracted to the debt side as well. But since there are now many more projects chasing it, there’s going to be a new balance between liquidity and projects – and it’s not clear yet where the balance will end up. Banks can afford to be pickier. Good projects will still find funding on attractive terms but it might be hard to go for the most aggressive structure unless you have a very compelling reason – and some transactions might be delayed if they misread the market.  There will also be newcomers on the equity side – both financial and corporates. A lot of them have been looking at the sector but many haven’t closed transactions yet and should more easily find opportunities to do so today. 2016 stands a good chance to be the year when the first 8MW wind turbine is financed. Finally, one of the open questions of the year will be around floating wind. Will there be commercial projects and will they successfully raise finance? My bet is that the process will at least get on its way in 2016. ” See all other predictions on inspiratia’s website (subscribers only) Jérôme Guillet co-founded Green Giraffe in 2010 and was a Managing Director until 2021.
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Article

Meerwind issues EUR 978 M in bonds to refinance debt

Press release
17 December 2015

WindMW issues EUR 978 M in investment grade bonds to refinance the fully operational 288 MW Meerwind offshore wind project in the German North Sea. Green Giraffe would like to congratulate its long standing client WindMW and its shareholder Blackstone for the successful placement of bonds worth EUR 978 M. The bonds were issued on 17 December 2015 to a group of around 20 international institutional investors and benefit from investment grade ratings from the three main rating agencies. Proceeds are mainly used to prepay around EUR 850 M of existing bank debt which was raised in August 2011 to finance the construction of the 288 MW Meerwind offshore wind farm. Green Giraffe acted as financial advisor to WindMW in 2011 and helped raise EUR 869 M in long term construction facilities, the first transaction to use the KfW programme for offshore wind. After financial close, Green Giraffe assisted WindMW in liaising with and reporting to the lending group throughout construction which was formally completed in September 2015. As part of the bond refinancing process, Green Giraffe helped WindMW to benchmark the proposed bond option against a restructuring of the existing bank debt. During the bond refinancing process, Green Giraffe advised WindMW on the interfaces with the existing bank group and helped to achieve a smooth refinancing process.
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Article

Veja Mate scores hat trick

PROJECT FINANCE INTERNATIONAL
24 September 2015

On June 29 2015, the financing for the 400 MW Veja Mate offshore wind project closed. The deal represented the third German offshore wind farm to achieve financial close since the applicable German regulatory framework – the EEG law – was reformed in the summer of 2014. In this article Ranjan Mouilik, Global Head of Power at Natixis, and Jérôme Guillet, Managing Director of Green Giraffe give their view on the transaction. Jérôme Guillet co-founded Green Giraffe in 2010 and was a Managing Director until 2021.
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Monts du Lomont reaches financial close

Press release
6 January 2015

The EUR 50 M investment and financing for the construction and operation of a 31 MW onshore windfarm in France where Green Giraffe advised closed on 29 December 2014. Here’s the press release describing the transaction. Green Giraffe is pleased to announce that on 29 December 2014, Velocita Energy Development (“Velocita”) and Norddeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale (“NORD/LB”) have closed the financing of the first phase of the Monts du Lomont onshore wind farm located in the Franche Comté region in France. NORD/LB, in its capacity of sole lender and arranger, will provide facilities in a total amount of EUR 22 M for the first phase, with an option to raise an additional EUR 23 M for the second phase in the near future. “We are delighted to close the financing of our first project in France and in the Doubs Valley, said Andrew Lee, Managing Director of Velocita. Monts du Lomont was conceived and developed for us by our partner Opale Energies Naturelles and is the pathfinder of a cluster of projects in the Doubs Valley totaling over 150 MW. Velocita’s French portfolio amounts to over 300 MW, 220 MW of which have or are about to secure permits and feed-in-tariff.”  This financing will enable the construction of a first phase of 14 MW during 2015, with a second tranche of 17 MW to become operational in 2017. The construction of Lomont will be managed by Velocita Energies Services S.A.S.  “We are proud to have advised on the financing for the Mont deLomont onshore wind project, which makes it an attractive investment opportunity for Velocita. The short two month period between the bank being mandated and financial close underlines the commitment and professionalism of all parties involved. said Jérôme Guillet, Managing Director at Green Giraffe. The first phase will consist of 5 wind turbines near Crosey-Le-Grand while the second phase comprises 6 wind turbines to be located near Vellerot and Rahon. The design, civil and electrical works are to be provided by Artelia under an EPC contract. GE will supply its state of the art 2.78 MW turbines with a comprehensive 15-year operation and maintenance contract with a 3-year extension option. Pedro Capote, director in the Energy Origination department at NORD/LB said: “We are very pleased to support Velocita in the financing of their first wind farm in France. France is one of NORD/LB core markets, where we have structured and financed already 330 MW in renewable energy projects”.  Green Giraffe acted as sole financial advisor to Velocita.  Velocita was also advised by Allen&Overy (legal), CGR (French public law), Natural Power (technical and energy yield), Greensolver (technical), Chatham Financial (interest rate hedging) and Filhet Allard (insurance).  Nord/LB was advised by Linklaters (legal), Mott MacDonald (technical), Ernst & Young (tax and model audit) and Marsh (insurance). About Green Giraffe Green Giraffe is a specialist advisory boutique focused on the renewable energy sector – and in particular offshore wind. Green Giraffe provides advisory services in non-recourse debt structuring, project equity advisory, buy-side and sell side advisory, project contracting support, market intelligence and modelling.  Green Giraffe was created in 2010 by renewable energy professionals and combines the expertise of project finance bankers and project developers with deep expertise in offshore wind. The team’s expertise was immediately recognized through the attribution of several advisory mandates (Northwind, C-Power, Meerwind) which have all closed successfully since then.  Green Giraffe rapidly developed its activities out of its original Utrecht and Paris offices across its core sectors of activity in Europe and North America, with mandates in the solar, onshore wind and offshore wind sectors. The company opened offices in London in September 2011 and Hamburg in January 2013, currently has a staff of 30 people and is actively engaged on projects in 8 countries.  Green Giraffe’s expertise has been recognised through multiple professional awards and requests to speak at professional conferences or to write articles for specialised publications.
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Offshore wind: Clean energy from the sea

COFFEETABLE BOOK
7 December 2014

Green Giraffe was one of the contributors to the book Offshore Wind: Clean energy from the sea published by Chris Westra. The book gives an overview of the different developments, technologies and offshore wind farms in Europe. Green Giraffe was invited to contribute as one off the important players in the market. Offshore wind farms are large scale industrial projects and their cost run in the hundreds, or even billions of euros for the largest ones. Such projects have typically been funded by either « utilities » (large power companies like DONG) from their general revenues or by a combination of investors and banks providing dedicated financing for each individual project. Offshore wind farms, like other renewable energy projects, should be looked at like infrastructure projects – a large upfront investment followed by many years of operation at a low cost. It means that the biggest component of the cost of electricity generated by such projects comes from the repayment  over time of the initial investment – much like the reimbursement of a mortgage on a house – and it is naturally very sensitive to the interest rate at the moment of investment. Compared to traditional power plants, like gas-fire power plants, where the cost of electricity is mainly driven by the price of gas over time, the economics of offshore wind farms are quite different – in particular, the cost of offshore wind electricity is fixed and will not change over the period of repayment of the investment, which is a very valuable feature in our world of rapidly changing energy prices. Electricity cost estimates depend heavily on assumptions made. Given that offshore wind projects need to repay the upfront investment over a long period of time, predictable revenues are the best way to do that. Financing costs will be lower under schemes whereby projects get a fixed price, like the «feed-in tariffs » that exist in many European countries. Thus both the nature of the rules that apply to renewable energy projects and their stability over time have an influence on the cost of energy, almost as much as the price level itself. In countries with a stable regulatory environment, both financial investors and banks are willing to provide funding at increasingly competitive rates, as they get more and more comfortable with the risk of building such big projects in the middle of the sea. Banks are typically willing to lend up to 70% of the cost of projects on a « non-recourse » basis, i.e. they get repaid only if the projects generate sufficient revenues. with no obligation for the project owners to pay the banks if the project fails to do so. Interest rates for such loans are currently in the 4-5% range over 15 years, while investors will expect a return of 8-12% for their share of the investment. Naturally, offshore wind farms need to be insured, like any big industrial site, and insurance coverage is available during construction and operations, covering risks (and loss of revenue) associated with any accident, unusual weather conditions or other damage caused by an external cause. The full book can be ordered here
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Article

Solar PV drives down electricity market prices in Europe

EU PVSEC 2014
1 September 2014

Henri Gouzerh and Nicolas Gourvitch proposed a method to quantify the merit order effect of solar PV in Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Switzerland for the period 2007-2013. They calculated the savings for power purchasers generated by the decrease in electricity spot market prices observed when solar PV plants feed electricity into the grid. The overall savings amounted to EUR 20 Bn across those five European countries for the 2007-2013 period, and were worth about 100 EUR per MWh of PV electricity fed into the grid, underlining the social value of the power generated by PV. Henri Gouzerh and Nicolas Gourvitch presented this article on the 31ste European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition in Hamburg in September 2015. They were selected as the winner of the Poster Award by the scientific committee in the thematic area of “PV – A major electricity source”.
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Article

Gemini financing – what it means for the market

RECHARGE
28 May 2014

The recent closing of the largest offshore wind farm financed to date on a non-recourse basis sends positive signs for the industry and provides a good overview of today’s banking market and new type of investors interested in entering the sector. Offshore wind is still more expensive than other technologies to generate power, and thus its development is overwhelmingly driven by the need to have a supportive regulatory framework. Key regulatory drivers include the price regime but also permitting mechanisms and access to the grid. All of these influence the economics of offshore wind projects and how they can ultimately be financed. Funding these projects requires equity and, potentially, debt. Equity-only transactions, or “balance sheet” investments have been typically made by utilities. Non-recourse debt in addition to equity has typically been used by smaller developers lacking the funds to build the projects on their own, or by financial investors seeking to create leverage and increase equity returns. Approximately a quarter of the 7GW of current operating capacity has been financed with debt, but the proportion has been increasing in recent years (to around 40% of new projects), and the increasing strains on utility balance sheets (due to a drop in wholesale prices, itself caused by the increasing penetration of renewables, which replace traditional plants in the merit order supply curve) have made them either consider project finance themselves, or sell all or part of their projects to investors that do. The equity market With utilities increasingly active on the sell side, investors have been able to find opportunities with varying risk profiles – and thus enabling the entry into the equity market of new players such as infrastructure and pensions funds, private-equity groups or corporations with specific market strategies. The first sector to see regular activity has been the market for already-built offshore wind farms, with investors willing to take long-term operating risk but reluctant to take construction risk. However, as more offshore wind assets have come up for sale, the universe of investors has grown even more, with IRR targets going down. Some investors are thus now looking to take construction risk to improve returns (and obtain the double digits IRRs no longer available for operating assets). In 2013, the Butendiek transaction was the first time pension funds and infrastructure funds took full construction risk in offshore wind, highlighting the increased sophistication of investors and the increasing understanding by financial markets of the risks associated with construction at sea. Ongoing transactions with respect to the Westernmost Rough (UK) and MEG1 (Germany) projects suggest that more investors are willing to take such risks today. The debt market Over the past three years, project finance funding has represented around 40% of the net amounts invested in offshore wind, and the market is increasingly mature, with predictable commercial terms and requirements from the lending market. Due diligence standards and main covenants are now well understood by lenders, advisors and experienced developers, across the various European countries where the industry has developed. Offshore wind is now unambiguously “strategic” for many banks. The commercial bank market is broadening, with more actors expressing their appetite each year. More than 30 commercial banks have taken offshore wind risk so far and more are interested to enter the market. In fact, banks were actually frustrated last year not to be able to lend more to the sector, as too few projects (of the requisite quality) came to the market. The Gemini project (600MW, the Netherlands) was able to raise more than €2bn in lending commitments just a few weeks ago (more than double the size of the previous largest such transaction), taking advantage of such favorable conditions, as further described below. We estimate that at least €4-5bn could be provided by lenders on a yearly basis on commercial terms, and we see signs that commercial banks are willing to consider underwriting good projects. Multilateral finance institutions, development banks and export credit agencies have been and remain instrumental to get deals done, typically providing half the liquidity in any given project, and terms largely similar to those accepted by commercial banks. Their main advantage is to provide large individual commitments, allowing a reduction in the number of parties involved in any given transaction. During times of stress following the financial crisis, they also provided valuable funding capacity to the market. Non-recourse finance requires a specific discipline A number of rules must be respected to gain access to project finance. Beyond a general requirement for more conservative assumptions than the investors with respect to production levels, constructions contingencies or operating expenses, banks tend to demand more influence than usual on the contractual structure and commercial terms, as well as more transparency on technology, supply chain and contractors than investors and in particular utilities are used to. It has thus been advisable to involve banks – or advisors familiar with the requirements of lenders – already when structuring the corporate and contractual structure of any offshore wind project. The Gemini precedent The financing for the Gemini project closed on 14 May 2014, for an amount of €2.1bn in long-term debt, making it by far the largest offshore wind financing. Lenders include 12 commercial banks (which provide €1bn altogether, also the largest commercial tranche ever), the European Investment Bank, and three export credit agencies (Euler-Hermes, EKF and Delcredere/Ducroire). Most of the terms of the financing are in line with previous transactions, such as a gearing of 70:30, debt sizing over the full life of the tariff regime, and stringent due diligence requirements. Nevertheless, the financing of such a large scale project (at 600MW) provides a number of insights for the industry: Banks continue to be willing to take construction risk for well-structured projects, with a general trend towards a very limited number of construction contracts (two only in that case). The universe of banks active in the sector continues to grow, with several newcomers in this transaction coming in and relying on experienced players who took more active roles. The size of commitments provided by commercial banks is growing and allows developers to raise substantial amounts on a non-recourse basis on market standard terms. There is no need for a utility to be involved in such a large project: Gemini was developed by a small but very experienced developer (Typhoon), and was purchased at financial close by a consortium led by Northland Power, a Canadian IPP with a substantial track record in power-sector project finance but no previous exposure to offshore wind. The strong contract negotiation, project management and financial structuring skills of the owner group were seen by the banks as one of the key features of the transaction. The Contract for Differences mechanism in place in the Netherlands was accepted by the lending community and will likely be seen as a relevant precedent for future UK transactions. As per the standard line of Green Giraffe at conferences, “there is enough money for good projects” and Gemini demonstrates that beyond any possible doubt. This article was first published on www.rechargnews.com
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Article

Non, le financement de l’éolien offshore n’est pas un problème

GREENUNIVERSE (IN FRENCH
28 November 2013

Jérôme Guillet was interviewed by French sectorial publication GreenUniverse on the second tender for offshore wind projects in France and the prospects for their financings. “Non, le financement de l’éolien offshore n’est pas un problème” A deux jours de la clôture du deuxième appel d’offres français, l’éolien offshore connaît des ratés au Royaume-Uni et en Allemagne. Les difficultés techniques risquent-elles de provoquer des difficultés de financement ? Non, répond Jérôme Guillet, directeur de Green Giraffe, banque d’investissement spécialisée dans les énergies renouvelables, et notamment l’éolien offshore. Pour lui, les bons projets trouvent des fonds, à condition de respecter certaines règles. (behind paywall) Jérôme Guillet co-founded Green Giraffe in 2010 and was a Managing Director until 2021.
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Article

Quantative analysis of the merit order effect from pv production

EU PVSEC 2013
3 October 2013

Nicolas Gourvitch and Henri Gouzerh proposed a method to quantify the merit order effect in Italy for the period 2006-2012. They calculated the savings for power purchasers generated by the decrease in electricity spot market prices observed when solar PV plants feed electricity into the grid. The overall savings amounted to more than EUR 2 Bn for the country as a whole in 2012, and were worth more than 100 EUR per MWh of PV electricity fed into the grid, underlining the social value of the power generated by PV.
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Article

Projectfinanciering en Bankability in de Offshore Windsector

WINDNIEUWS
1 February 2013

Jakob Bergvelt, from Green Giraffe’s Dutch team explains what makes an offshore wind project bankable and discusses how banks assess risks for such projects during construction and during the operational phase (in Dutch). Om de ambitieuze, Europese duurzame energiedoelstellingen te halen zullen er in de nabije toekomst grootschalige duurzame energieprojecten moeten worden gerealiseerd. Projectfinanciering biedt een logische structuur om bij dat proces private ontwikkelaars te betrekken. Op deze wijze kunnen de noodzakelijke middelen worden aangeboord bij externe financiers zoals commerciële banken, exportkrediet verzekeraars en multi laterale financieringsorganen als de Europese investerings bank. Dit artikel geeft een beknopt overzicht van de belangrijkste criteria die dergelijke instellingen hanteren bij het beoordelen van investeringsmogelijkheden in duurzame energie, in het bijzonder offshore windenergie. Wat maakt vanuit ‘bankability’ perspectief een goed en realiseerbaar project?
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Situation and prospects for Baltic Sea offshore wind energy

BALTIC TRANSPORT JOURNAL
1 December 2012

Jérôme Guillet, Managing Director of Green Giraffe describes the economic and regulatory framework for offshore wind in the various countries around the Baltic Sea, and discusses how the industry’s development may be funded. At the end of 2012, 704 MW of offshore wind capacity is operational in the Baltic Sea, with another 448 MW under construction. There are sufficient wind resources to develop approximately 40 GW of offshore wind energy capacity in the area. However, such development of offshore wind farms in the Baltic Sea will largely depend on the regulatory frameworks offered in the various countries surrounding the sea. The region’s states are at very different stages of economic development and have diff erent starting points as regards their current energy mix – and also diff erent views on how such mix should evolve. Some are still highly reliant on Russian oil and gas imports (for instance, in Poland, 94% of oil, 80%  of gas and 70% of coal is imported from Russia) and look favourably at a home-grown resource. Some have access to plentiful and cheap hydro and are in  no urgent need of more wind capacity (e.g. Sweden). Some may balk at supporting a sector whose costs of production are still higher than traditional power sources. On the other hand, EU Member States also need to fulfil the Union’s existing renewable energy targets. Click here for the full article
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Northwind reaches financial close

Press release
28 June 2012

The EUR 595 M Northwind financing, where Green Giraffe advised the borrower, closed on 28 June 2012. Here’s the press release describing the transaction, as provided by Green Giraffe at the time. Green Giraffe was financial advisor to Northwind in the closing of a EUR 595 M long term financing for its 216 MW offshore wind project Green Giraffe, the leading renewable energy financial advisory firm, is pleased to confirm that it acted as financial advisor to the project company in its successful closing of EUR 595 M long term facilities for the Northwind 216 MW offshore wind project off the Belgian coast. This 15-year post construction transaction demonstrates that it is still possible to raise long term funding at attractive conditions for good projects in the offshore wind sector, and presents a number of firsts, (foran offshore wind farm) including: the first tranche to be guaranteed by the export credit agency of Belgium (ONDD), the first tranche to be guaranteed by the export credit agency of Norway (GIEK), and the first tranche to be funded by PensionDanmark.
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Project Finance in Offshore wind – Differences in Risk Approach Between Banks and Utilities

WINDTECH INTERNATIONAL
7 March 2012

Jérôme Guillet, Managing Director of Green Giraffe, writes about how different types of investors in offshore wind projects perceive risks differently, use different routes to mitigate them, and thus tend to finance projects in different ways. Differences in Risk Approach Between Banks and Utilities The offshore wind farm sector is gaining momentum. New projects with a capacity of 866 MW were installed in 2011. However, a uniquely difficult combination of risks has brought about significantly different approaches to project management between banks and utilities. While utilities strive for a high degree of autonomy in terms of structuring the projects, banks call for a direct influence on and total transparency in the project contracts. Understanding these different perspectives will help both sides to cooperate in order to finance the massive pipeline of future projects Jérôme Guillet co-founded Green Giraffe in 2010 and was a Managing Director until 2021.
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Green Giraffe opens UK office

Press release
27 October 2011

Green Giraffe announced in September 2011 that it had created a new UK affiliate and opened a new office in the City of London. The office now has 3 full time employees. Green Giraffe is pleased to announce that it has created a new UK affiliate, Green Giraffe UK Ltd  and opened a new office in the City of London. The office will support the financial advisory activity of Green Giraffe in the growing British renewable energy market and especially in Green Giraffe’s core expertise area, advisory to the offshore wind sector. Renewable energy project advisory Green Giraffe has ample experience in continental Europe assisting developers in bringing their renewable energy projects to financial close. Green Giraffe’s close relationship with renewable energy investors, the UK and European project finance banking community, legal and technical advisors will be further boosted by the new London office, located in the heart of the city giving us the local presence required to better assist UK developers to successfully negotiate the financing for their projects: from modelling support, structuring the project and negotiating project contracts to arranging of equity and financing. Specialised offshore wind competence The UK is developing a large offshore wind program, with over 1.5 GW already operational and plans for 32 GW installed by 2030. To date, this market is dominated by utilities and projects have been mostly financed by them on a corporate basis. Nevertheless, the scale of the forthcoming investments, and the positive experience with non recourse construction financings in other European countries suggest that developers will increasingly look for third party funding for their offshore wind farm projects. Green Giraffe has a uniquely successful presence in that market already, with direct involvement in two billion-euro non recourse financings in the past year (C-Power 2 in Belgium and Meerwind in Germany), and a client base including developers, companies in the supply chain and equity investors across several European countries and the USA. That track record has already been recognised in the UK context via an advisory mandate to refinance the purchase of a minority stake in the Walney offshore wind farm in the East Irish Sea and will now be deployed specifically in the UK market via a full time presence in London. About Green Giraffe Green Giraffe, with offices in Utrecht (the Netherlands), Paris (France), and now also London (UK) has a staff of 16 professionals with extensive experience in renewable energy finance and long track records in closing transactions in the non-recourse debt and equity markets. Green Giraffe was ranked n°1 financial advisor (by volume of closed deals) in the renewable energy sector in 2010 by Infrastructure Journal.
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Meerwind financing closes

Press release
5 August 2011

The EUR 822 M financing of project Meerwind, a 288 MW offshore wind farm in Germany owned by Blackstone and Windland, where Green Giraffe advised the borrower, closed on 5 August 2011. Here’s the press release describing the transaction, as provided by Green Giraffe at the time. Green Giraffe successfully assists WindMW GmbH to bring the 288 MW offshore wind project “Meerwind” to financial close “Green Giraffe consistently distinguished themselves and played a critical role throughout every step of the financing process (Blackstone)” Nine months after the successful closing of the EUR 913 MW financing for the C-Power 325 MW offshore wind farm off the coast of Belgium, Green Giraffe  is pleased to announce its latest achievement: the closing of the EUR 977 M financing for the “Meerwind” offshore wind project developed by Blackstone in Germany. Ongoing mandates in the renewable energy sector in the UK, the US, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands demonstrate the market’s growing confidence in Green Giraffe’s ability to get deals done and obtain financing for large scale projects on a competitive and timely basis and this transaction will further underpin such trust in our services.
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Article

Financing offshore wind

THE PRINCIPLES OF PROJECT FINANCE
24 June 2011

With investments in the offshore wind sector set to increase from a few hundred million euros to tens of billions per year, the question of where the money will come from has been at the forefront of industry preoccupations. This article examines how equity investors and potential lenders look at the sector and in what ways they can be expected to contribute. The market to date Industry growth so far has largely been achieved by utilities, alone or in small partnerships, financing and building their own projects and keeping them on their balance sheet. There are, however, other possibilities. “Non-utility” projects, undertaken by independent power producers (IPPs), may call on non-recourse debt financing from banks, particularly during the construction phase. As of end 2010, just over 10% of operational capacity (and a similar percentage of capacity under construction) had benefitted from non-recourse debt financing, with a smaller percentage having been refinanced through debt after completion. A number of interesting conclusions may be drawn at this point. One is that there are alternative sources to utilities for investment in offshore wind. Another is that banks show willingness to take construction risk (via debt), preferably, so far, in non-utility projects. Meanwhile, financial investors (via equity) tend rather to seek a stake in already operational projects. These conclusions also point to the most likely routes for utilities looking for external sources of funding: recycling of project equity via the sale of (typically minority) stakes in operating projects; non-recourse financing of IPP projects prior to completion; non-recourse refinancing of “utility” projects once they are operational. Jérôme Guillet co-founded Green Giraffe in 2010 and was a Managing Director until 2021.
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