Danish developer Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) hailed a first for the offshore wind sector in Asia after selling a 12.5% share of its Taiwanese portfolio to local insurance groups.
Taiwan Life and TransGlobe Life Insurance (TGL) will form a joint venture with CIP to oversee the development and operation of CIP’s Changhua and West Island (or Xidao) offshore wind projects, totalling 600MW between them.
Taiwan Life and TGL committed to investing NT$2.5bn and NT$1.7bn respectively for the total 12.5% share in the joint venture, called Taiwan Wind Energy Investment Co, while CLP kept the majority through its funds CI 2 and CI 3, Recharge understands.
The transaction marks “a significant milestone,” and the first of its kind in Asia “to enable local life insurers to make a direct investment in the Taiwanese offshore wind farm,” CIP partner Michael Hannibal said in a statement.
The purchase of stakes by insurers marks another step by the Taiwanese sector towards mirroring the situation in Europe, where new categories of investors are stepping into projects.
The two projects off Changhua county are among ten offshore wind farms totaling 3.8GW selected by Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) in 2018 to kick off construction.
Taiwan’s regulator requires the first 100MW off Changfang to achieve grid connection by the end of 2022, expecting the remaining 445MW off Changfang and 48MW off West Island to come online before 2024 and 2025, respectively, according to a recent update from MOEA.
CIP has already secured the power purchase agreements (PPAs) with grid operator Taipower, locking in a feed-in tariff of NT$ 5.516/kWh.
By involving local investors and other measures, the Danish group claimed to achieve a higher localisation rate in its wind projects compared to its peers. Earlier this month, the local content proposal of the firm secured a long-awaited passage from MOEA, despite struggling to get approval last year.
As well as completing the equity investment, CIP is in the processing of securing finance for the two projects and expects to see the results “within months”, its executives told local media.
The firm had kicked off the process for project financing in July last year. However, state-owned banks in Taiwan had been hesitant to provide non-recourse loans amid an uncertain political climate before the presidential election, a former energy investor and financial expert in Taiwan with first-hand knowledge of the market there told Recharge, on condition of anonymity.
But that may soon change, as Taiwan has just re-elected Tsai Ing-wen, the pro-offshore wind president, for another term in a move that commentators previously told Recharge bodes well for the sector’s prospects there.
Three Japanese banks, MUFG, Sumitomo Mitsui and Mizuho, will provide a loan of 100bn yen ($909m) to a “Taiwanese offshore wind project of 600MW capacity” to which MHI Vestas is contracted to supply turbines, Japanese financial news outlet Nikkei recently claimed. The scope and estimated investment amount of the anonymous project is is at 400bn yen ($3.7bn,) similar to that of CIP’s Changhua and West Island portfolio.
Despite the progress, CIP still needs to secure agreements from the local Changhua fisheries association over compensation, which is the “biggest challenge for all the developers,” the financial expert warned.