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The perfect investment or hot air?

A new wind farm fund offers inflation-busting dividends and solid revenue visibility but is not without its risks
The perfect investment or hot air?

The impending float of wind farm investment fund Greencoat UK Wind seems to answer many investors' prayers, but it is not without its risks. Stephen Lilley, partner of Greencoat Capital, said: "Operating wind farms should make attractive investment assets, particularly for investors seeking long-term, predictable returns". The fund will invest in UK wind farms that are already up and running and has said it will pay a dividend as early as August. The fund is targeting an inflation-busting yield of 6 per cent on the initial investment of 100p a share; after that the intention is to link dividend increases to the retail prices index.

Greencoat will not be exposed to the risky construction phase or the operation of the predominantly onshore wind farms as they will be run by the current owners, German utility RWE and UK utility SSE. Greencoat is planning to raise £205m and investors already signed up include the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which has committed to take up 50m shares and SSE, which has subscribed for 43m shares; both are subject to a one-year lock-up. As part of the deal, SSE has agreed to sell four operating wind farms to Greencoat for £140m.

Greencoat already has agreements in place to purchase a seed portfolio of six wind farms with a combined capacity of 126.5 megawatts. Greencoat expects to receive around half of its revenues from government subsidies for renewable energy while the rest will come from selling power to the wholesale market. The wind farms it is buying already hold power purchase agreements. If demand is sufficient, Greencoat can raise up to £260m and, if this happens, it has further wind farm assets lined up for purchase within 60 days of its float; otherwise these additional assets may be acquired by taking on debt.

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