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BNP clean energy fund in first biomass deal

The £170m acquisition of the Sleaford straw-fired renewable energy plant from renewable firm ECO2 is also the UK’s first project-financed biomass deal in five years. NIBC, RBS, Siemens Bank and Unicredit are providing debt for the deal.

It’s commonly said that “straws tell which way the wind blows” and, if that’s the case, then the acquisition of the Sleaford straw-fired renewable energy plant by the BNP Paribas Clean Energy Fund could be good news for the UK biomass industry.

That’s because the deal – worth about £170 million (€200 million; $265 million), according to the seller, Welsh renewable energy firm ECO2 – is not only the clean energy fund’s first-ever biomass acquisition, but it’s also the first project-financed deal in the UK biomass sector for five years.

“This is a hugely significant deal, not only for the [fund] but for the UK biomass industry as a whole,” Joost Bergsma, the fund’s chief executive, commented in a statement. “We are happy that after a period of uncertainty, the publication of the revised Renewable Obligation Certificates bands by the Department of Energy and Climate Change has allowed the project to achieve closure without further delay,” he added.

NIBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Siemens Bank and Unicredit are backing the purchase with an undisclosed amount of debt. 

To date, the BNP Paribas Clean Energy Fund has bought 10 wind and solar power assets across Italy, France, the UK and Ireland. The fund – with offices in Australia, South Africa, Australia, North America and Europe – closed on €437 million in December 2010.