A Danish pension fund plans to kick in $200 million to help pay for Cape Wind, edging the $2.6 billion project closer to being fully financed.
In a statement released Tuesday, officials of PensionDanmark — a non-profit labor market pension fund with $24.7 billion in assets — said they would provide a mezzanine loan for the offshore wind project planned for Nantucket Sound off Massachusetts. In its press release, PensionDanmark says its commitment is conditioned on a final investment decision that will be made by the end of the year, according to the Cape Cod Times.
"We think the Cape Wind project makes a perfect fit in our energy sector," PensionDanmark CEO Torben Moger Pedersen told the Cape Cod Times after the announcement.
A mezzanine loan is a hybrid of equity — an investment for a stake in the project — and debt and it falls between the two forms of financing from both a risk and return standpoint.
The project is not PensionDanmark's first foray into wind energy investments, Pedersen said.
The fund has made investments in two offshore wind farms in Denmark and three onshore wind farms in the United States and has provided debt financing for onshore wind energy projects in Sweden and Belgium, he said.
"We're hoping it will be a great success," Pedersen said about Cape Wind, adding that PensionDanmark has confidence in Cape Wind President Jim Gordon and his team.
PensionDanmark is comfortable with the investment because Cape Wind is similar to an offshore wind farm known as Anholt that the fund invested in off the coast of Denmark, Pedersen said. Anholt includes 111 turbines made by Siemens that are about the same size and technology as the turbines Cape Wind plans to use, he said.
All of the Anholt turbines are scheduled to be connected to the electric grid in Denmark today, Pedersen said, adding that it is only a coincidence that the Cape Wind announcement and the beginning of operations at the Danish offshore wind farm occurred at the same time.
With the Anholt project, Denmark is getting about 25 percent of its electricity from wind energy.
The United States gets about 5 percent of its electricity from wind power, according to an April report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Despite continued opposition to Cape Wind and lawsuits filed in federal court seeking to block the project, Pedersen said he is confident that the project will be built.
"All the legal stuff is more complicated than in Europe," he said, adding that there is broad support for renewable energy there. "We are very confident all obstacles will be surpassed."
Funding for Cape Wind is expected to come from a variety of sources.
The U.S. Department of Energy is considering a $500 million loan guarantee for the project, according to a source with knowledge of the application.
This figure is $150 million more than a figure that was previously shared with the Times.