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Horizon New Energy sees bright future for renewables in Canada

Company is an offshoot of Danish investor Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners

Shannon Wever, managing director of Horizon New Energy. (Courtesy Horizon New Energy)

The strong potential for renewable energy in Canada has led to the establishment of Horizon New Energy in Calgary, an offshoot of Danish renewables investor Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP).

Horizon is a development portfolio company which will be active in renewable energy projects across Canada, operating as an independent power producer with 1.37 gigawatts of projects under development.

CIP has previously invested in and built renewable energy projects in Canada. The 465-megawatt Travers Solar Project and 495-megawatt Buffalo Plains onshore wind farm, both in Alberta, are the largest of their kind in the country according to Horizon managing director Shannon Wever.

Horizon will focus on onshore wind, hydrogen, solar and battery storage projects to start. Attention will be focused on Alberta, Wever said in an interview with Sustainable Biz Canada.

There is a “long-term confidence in the Alberta markets,” she said. “We got a little hiccup here with the moratorium that’s in place in Alberta, but I’ve been in renewables for over 20 years and it tends to ebb and flow.

"I think that we’re taking a long-term view on Alberta.”

How Horizon will work

Horizon will take on the greenfield development and construction of new renewable energy projects and explore strategic acquisitions. CIP’s flagship fund will provide the capital for project development and the funding to construct projects, depending on the growth of Horizon and investment decisions.

Copenhagen-headquartered CIP has raised $37.3 billion to date for its 11 funds.

Horizon is not the first of its kind for the global investor. CIP has operated under a similar model in other countries, including a German solar company called Baldur Power and Vineyard Wind, a U.S. offshore wind platform company.

Wever said CIP is different from other renewables-focused fund managers because it enters projects earlier in the development cycle.

“Most fund managers like to de-risk the projects and enter them at COD (commercial operation date) or whereabouts, while CIP’s taking on development risks and entering projects earlier,” Wever said.

Horizon has constructed 691 megawatts of projects to date and has 495 megawatts under construction.

Horizon’s trust in Alberta and Canada

Despite industry concerns sparked by the Alberta government's moratorium on renewable energy projects exceeding one megawatt, Wever said Horizon has confidence in Alberta’s market.

The moratorium, which will end in February 2024, is addressing “valid” issues such as reclamation security, use of agricultural land that would be raised in any jurisdiction, and grid stability, Wever said. It also clarifies the roles and rules for the industry and landowners, which she said will lead to “a stronger (renewables) industry on the back end of it.”

The fundamentals of the province’s market remain strong, as well as growth in other provincial markets, she said. Wever pointed to B.C.’s clean power call, requests for proposal (RFPs) totalling 600 megawatts in Saskatchewan, a 739-megawatt battery storage RFP in Ontario and onshore and offshore wind projects in Atlantic Canada as evidence of Canada’s growing interest in clean energy.

Current elevated interest rates will also eventually settle down, easing some of the tension on borrowing costs for clean energy projects, Wever said.

But an issue facing the renewables industry, particularly wind, is supply-chain disruptions on wind turbines. Wever said solving this problem will require working with its supply chain partners, such as Siemens-Gamesa.

Horizon’s bet on Alberta, down to establishing its headquarters in Calgary, sends a signal to the market that “Alberta is still a good place to invest in from a renewables perspective, from a long-term perspective,” Wever said.

Horizon hopes to start construction on its 450-megawatt Aira Solar project, southwest of Medicine Hat, Alta., early next spring.

The company’s aim is to expand across Canada, with opportunities in Saskatchewan and B.C.

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