Helius Energy confirms financing for biomass CHP project in Scotland

Source: Helius Energy

Helius Energy plc (Helius or the Company) confirms that Financial Close for the £60.5m Helius CoRDe Ltd (CoRDe) project has been achieved.

Helius has previously announced a project finance facility from Lloyds TSB Bank plc (LBG) and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) for the CoRDe project. Helius is now pleased to confirm that Rabo Project Equity BV (Rabo), a 100% subsidiary of Rabobank Group, has acquired equity in the CoRDe joint venture company. CoRDe ownership now comprises Helius, Rabo, and The Combination of Rothes Distillers Limited (CoRD), itself a joint venture between Ben Riach Distillery Co Ltd, Chivas Brothers Ltd (Pernod Ricard), The Edrington Group, Glen Grant Distillery Co Ltd (Campari) , Inverhouse Distillers (ThaiBev), Diageo and John Dewar & Son (Bacardi).

The project will take biomass co-products from the malt whisky manufacturing process and convert them into renewable electricity and animal feeds protein supplement (Pot Ale Syrup) in a combined heat and power plant (CHP plant) at Rothes, Morayshire, Scotland.

Engineering work has already begun, and construction on site is due to start within 12 weeks. The CHP plant is scheduled to be commissioned during Q3 2012 and fully operational during the first half of 2013. It will create approximately 100 jobs during construction and employ around 20 full time people once operational.

The project includes a CHP facility to burn solid residues (draff) and wood, to generate up to 7.2MWe of renewable electricity. Steam from the process will evaporate liquid residues (pot ale) into Pot Ale Syrup. The project is expected to save around 46,000 tonnes per year of CO2 compared to a similarly sized coal-fired facility.
The total cost of the project is circa £60.5 million. Under the finance arrangements, LBG and RBS will provide a non-recourse senior debt facility of approximately 70% (representing circa £42.4 million), Rabo will take a 44.7% (-1 share) stake in the Project Company and CoRD will retain 5.3%. Helius will hold a majority position with 50% (+1 share) of the shares for an additional equity investment of circa £4.2 million. Helius and CoRD have invested circa £4.6 million of development funding to date that has been capitalised within the £60.5 million capital cost.

Adrian Bowles, Helius Energy CEO said: "We are delighted that the CoRDe project is moving forward. Securing full financing confirms the ability of the Helius team to successfully develop, structure and fund biomass projects, crystallising long term shareholder value. The CoRDe project structure is in line with Helius' strategy to develop projects using proven technology, sustainable fuel and reputable contracting parties, and to secure the active participation of investment and industrial partners at the appropriate time.

"Retaining an equity position in CoRDe should allow Helius to maximise the benefit in any improvement in the electricity price as we move forward to a low carbon economy.

"Helius is working with potential partners to pursue similar equity funding arrangements for our other projects, including our 100MW consented site at Avonmouth, where we are also currently in discussion with debt finance providers. Further updates will be provided in due course."

Erik van de Brake, Head of Rabo Project Equity, said: "We are proud we can contribute to the realisation of this innovative biomass project. Not only is it an attractive investment but by improving the resource efficiency of the distillation process, this project supports the corporate and social ambitions of the distilling industry, a key client sector for Rabobank.This is a great example how we can contribute to increased sustainability in the food and agri business."

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