HAVING previously said it was looking for a partner, green energy giant Mainstream yesterday suggested it could sell most or all of its controversial Neart na Gaoithe wind farm in the Firth of Forth.

The Dublin-based company wants to go public by 2020 and is eyeing up a so-called grey market for investors to trade shares by the end of the year, but yesterday chief executive Andy Kinsella said the market will only be established after it sells most or all of Neart na Gaoithe.

Though it has not been constructed yet and only finally saw off a legal challenge to its planning permission in November, the 450 MW Neart na Gaoithe is seen as a huge investment opportunity at a time when demand for renewable energy has never been higher.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) fought a long court battle against the wind farm which they said would wreak havoc on seabirds around the Firth, but the UK Supreme Court ruled against this in November.

Mainstream said 2000 jobs could be created by the wind farm and it would earn £875m for the Scottish economy over its lifetime. It had always been Mainstream’s intention to seek a partner for the £2 billion cost of the wind farm which will have 54 giant turbines producing enough energy to power a city the size of Edinburgh, but yesterday’s news was the first indication it might sell it off completely.

The RSPB may have done Mainstream two considerable favours, as the company secured a lucrative index-linked Contract for Difference guaranteeing the future price for its electricity from the UK Government’s Low Carbon Contracts Company — such contract values have since almost halved — and Mainstream is likely to make a much greater profit now than if the wind farm had been built on the original timescale.

The Irish company had reportedly been previously offered €100m for its stake in the development in 2016. However, now after the court delays have made green energy concerns a seller’s market they are anticipating a “multiple” of that sum.

Mainstream’s chief executive Andy Kinsella said: “People are now prepared to take on and build these projects at half the guaranteed, index-linked revenue we won [the supply auction at] in 2015.”

“We are now at a tipping point where the levelized cost of wind and solar energy is beating coal, beating nuclear and beating gas turbines. The day of subsidies for renewable is gone or going in most markets – except where people are trying to kick-start new technologies.”

When the company announced last month that KPMG would manage the process of bringing in a partner, Kinsella said: “Almost all the major players in the offshore wind sector are already in discussions with us.

“We are very excited at the level of interest shown from all the serious players in the market and we look forward to delivering all the economic and environmental benefits this project will bring to Scotland.”