The global wind and solar company Mainstream Renewable Power is investing $177.5 million of equity in the pan-African renewable energy generation platform Lekela Power(link is external), of which $117.5 will come from other investors such as the private grant making foundation Rockefeller Brothers Fund ($ 10 million), while $60 million will come from Mainstream itself.
The investment will finance Mainstream’s continued expansion of the Lekela Power platform, a joint venture with private equity firm Actis. The funding package will help Lekela meet its goal of constructing power plants in Africa with a capacity of over 1.3GW by 2018, while addressing the challenge of climate change. The platform plans to build four more wind farms in South Africa, a wind farm and two solar plants in Egypt, as well as wind farms in Senegal and Ghana. Energy poverty has been recognised as one of the key challenges for Africa, with an estimated two thirds of people in Sub-Saharan Africa having no regular access to electricity.
Mainstream Renewable Power CEO Eddie O’Connor commented the deal: “The teaming up of the world’s leading independent renewable power developer with a foundation started by members of the family that effectively founded the global oil industry is a significant moment in the world’s transition to a new power system based on clean energy.”
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) was founded in 1940 by the sons of John D. Rockefeller –one of the founders of Standard Oil Co.– and profited from the assets gained by Rockefeller senior’s oil investments. The fund is working on investing 10% of its assets in companies which are actively working on reducing CO2-emissions. It has already reduced its investments into coal and oil significantly and wants to lower those investments as close to zero as possible. In May 2015 its investments in coal and tar sands oil had sunk to 0.1% of its total portfolio, while its fossil fuel exposure had decreased from 6.6% in 2014 to 3.3% in 2015.
“Providing electricity for the people of Africa requires huge investments and is an opportunity to re-kindle growth and help the world economy overcome secular stagnation. We hope this will be the first investment of many from impact investors in this sector,” added O’Connor.
Stephen Heintz, president of the RBF was very satisfied with the investment and added: “I’m confident that if John D. Rockefeller were alive today, he too would recognize the enormous opportunities in the clean energy economy and be at the forefront of the global shift to renewable resources.”
Investors in Mainstream Renewable Power Africa Holdings, Mainstream’s funding vehicle for Lekela, include: The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, IFC, the IFC African, Latin American and Caribbean Fund (ALAC) and the IFC Catalyst Fund, two funds managed by IFC Asset Management Company, Ascension Investment Management and Sanlam.