Coillte Land Solutions: Ireland’s low carbon enabler

Coillte Land Solutions, a division of Coillte, leverages the company’s significant land-bank in order to create value across a range of infrastructure sectors, including energy, telecommunications, industry, infrastructure, housing, healthcare and tourism. Mark Foley, Managing Director of Coillte Land Solutions, writes.

Helping Ireland’s 
de-carbonisation journey

A major focus for us when approaching any opportunity is to determine our ability to provide innovative commercial solutions which can support national policy objectives. There are few objectives more important at present than the de-carbonisation agenda and the consequent requirement to reshape our economy in its entirety. Failure to do the right thing in this field has the very real potential to be financially onerous on the Irish State in the near term and be both environmentally and socially detrimental to future Irish generations.

By combining Coillte’s longstanding heritage in the spheres of sustainability, recreation and community, with Coillte Land Solutions’ track record in the renewable energy arena (specifically wind), we believe that Coillte Land Solutions is now in a unique position to be a key enabler to help Ireland on its de-carbonisation journey. Action is badly needed, as it is simply not acceptable that Ireland sits in the bottom quartile of the EU27’s worst performing carbon emitters. To effect real change, cross sectoral leadership is also needed, we all have a part to play, and to that end we in Coillte are willing to position our assets and capabilities at the centre of a sustainable Ireland over the coming decades.

Over the past 18 months, we have tasked ourselves with understanding the key macro drivers that have brought us to this point and which will shape the road ahead to 2030 and beyond. It is apparent that:

  • the climate science which underpins the de-carbonisation agenda is beyond any reasonable doubt;
  • Europe will continue to be one of the top three global leaders on de-carbonisation;
  • we need to adopt a step change in our approach to de-carbonisation over the coming five years if Ireland is to avoid falling behind, impairing our attractiveness as an economy and diminishing our prosperity;
  • in electricity, heating and transport; the technology is now available (and improving all the time), to plan and execute the necessary major transformation; and
  • there is a compelling case for all matters linked to de-carbonisation and key supporting infrastructure to be given elevated status in a budgetary and policy context, thereby ensuring that the benefits of long-term planning can be maximised.

Leveraging Coillte’s unique land bank

In order to be true to our leadership ambitions, and in response to some of the challenges identified above, Coillte Land Solutions is looking to contribute between 30-50 per cent of new onshore wind capacity in Ireland in the period to 2030. Using our strong track record to date, and fully leveraging a unique land bank which presents an unmatched portfolio of large high wind sites, this target can and will be met. Assuming that Ireland continues to reshape its energy generation fleet and electrify its economy (housing, heavy transport, vehicles) with the consequent emphasis on low carbon and sustainable generation sources, demand for c.2GW of new onshore wind facilities in Ireland during the period 2020-2030 is expected to be generated.

Maximising new partnership and joint venture opportunities

Our ambition to contribute up to 50 per cent of such new capacity, while underpinned by Coillte’s strong development track record and heritage, is also built on a desire to maximise successful partnership models. Specifically, in order to deliver on our new renewable energy strategy, we are currently seeking to establish the range of partnership and/or joint venture models available in the market which would maximise the potential of this unique opportunity.

In exploring the partnership/joint venture options, we may look to assess the value contained in our current operating wind farm portfolio and to incorporate some or all of such assets into that process. Later in 2017, we will seek to invite interested parties in the wind and wider renewable energy sector to participate in a process designed to identify the best available partnership/joint venture model(s) in order to create a best-in-class and commercial successful development proposition. It is expected to have a fully executed partnership structure in place by the second half of 2018.

We are deeply committed to the ambition and scale articulated above, as well as to the partnership path we are now embarked upon. The ultimate outcome should be a radically reshaped Irish energy landscape. The prize can be a more sustainable Ireland, enabled by Coillte Land Solutions.

Recent signature transactions

  1. Development and construction of four wind farms totalling 230MW under the REFIT 2 regime representing a total investment of over €400 million (50 per cent share with JV partners, 2010-2017).
  2. Leasing/sale of Coillte lands to facilitate over 30 per cent of the installed capacity of wind energy in the Irish market (third party developer-led; 2000-2017).
  3. Establishment and sale of a telecom tower business (2000 onwards; sold in 2015 to an infrastructure fund for over €70 million).
  4. Sale of lands to facilitate Apple data centre development in County Galway (2016).
  5. Sale of lands in County Longford to Center Parcs for development of a land-mark holiday/recreation facility (2016).

 

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