Development of solar projects is picking up in Ireland after it scooped nearly 800MW in the nation’s first RESS auction in 2020.

Octopus Renewables Infrastructure Trust (ORIT) is acquiring a portfolio of five Irish solar sites with an expected combined capacity of up to 250MW.

The five sites are located near Dublin, and are under development by Statkraft Ireland Limited. The completion of the acquisition is conditional upon the first four sites being fully operational by H2 2022.

These four are set to benefit from the Contracts for Difference auctions run as part of the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) in 2020. Statkraft was one of the biggest winners of the scheme, including scooping the largest contract for 276MWp of solar out of the total 796MW awarded for solar projects through the RESS.

The four sites will have a fixed revenue till 2037 as part of their RESS contracts. The acquisition of the construction ready fifth site – which is expected to have a capacity of up to 50MW – will depend on it securing a RESS Contract for Difference in a future auction.

The total consideration for the acquisition is expected to be between approximately €138 million and €145 million (£119 million to £125 million), apart from any deferred consideration for the fifth site.

ORIT secured a fully amortising debt facility for up to approximately €138 million and €145 million (approximately £119 million to £125 million) to support the acquisition of the operational sites from Allied Irish Banks and La Banque Postale.

“I am delighted to announce ORIT’s first acquisition in Ireland, with this significant portfolio of solar PV sites,” said Phil Austin, chairman of Octopus Renewables Infrastructure Trust. “This acquisition, coming shortly after completion of our recent fundraise, will extend our presence into a fifth country, providing further geographic and revenue diversification.”

ORIT announced plans to raise approximately £100 million through a proposed issue of further ordinary shares in June in an effort to expand and further diversify its portfolio.

It ended its inaugural year with a gross asset value of £441 million from 24 assets, including eight UK solar assets. At the time, Chris Gaydon investment director at Octopus Renewables highlighted plans for further expansion through the UK, Europe and potentially Australia.

Development of solar assets has picked up pace recently in Ireland noted Gaydon, adding that “the construction of these projects in Ireland will have a positive contribution to decreasing carbon emissions and helping Ireland on its path for a more renewable future.”

Earlier this month, Highfield Solar secured funding for 282MWp of developments in Ireland for two sites that also won support in the RESS auction. While Greek conglomerate Mytilineos acquired a 14MW solar portfolio from Elgin Energy which had also won long-term contracts through the RESS.

In May, Danish solar PV business Obton announced it was to double its investment in Irish solar partner Shannon Energy, as it targets 1GW.