Lloyd’s coverholder GCube, which underwrites on behalf of Lloyd’s syndicates, along with German reinsurer Munich RE, have been appointed by the Saudi Arabian power company, ACWA Power, to deliver specialist insurance and risk advisory services for its flagship 160MW Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) project Noor 1 in Ouarzazate, Morocco.
The renewable energy and power practice of broker Marsh worked with local partner AFMA Group to structure a risk transfer programme that covers the project from construction to full commercial operation.
ACWA Power’s Noor 1 project is the largest CSP project outside of North America. Comprising a solar field, a power block and a thermal energy storage system, it is due to generate 160MW of electricity with up to three hours of storage.
The single policy wording programme, for which GCube and Munich RE are joint leaders, will underwrite coverage for the marine transportation, construction all risks, advanced loss of profit and public liability risks over the 28 month installation phase and the first year of the project’s full commercial operation.
GCube’s senior underwriter Charlie Richardson described the project as groundbreaking: “This project is the first commercial scale standalone CSP project in North Africa and it and will form the first part of a broader solar power complex with total capacity of 500 MW, ” Richardson said. “It is not an everyday project as you have to cope with a relatively new and still developing technology, often located in desert areas, creating additional challenges.”
Munich RE’s Stephan Laemmle told lloyds.com that Munich RE and GCube have agreed a joint 50% lead line on the placement. “We have also together developed a new placement structure that can be replicated for all future CSP assets lead by the two most experienced insurers in the world for renewable energy and engineering lines respectively, ” he said.
Kalyan Noorani, director of Insurance & Risk at ACWA Power, commented: “Working with Marsh, Munich RE and GCube on these projects has given us the confidence to continue our ambitious plans for CSP solar. By having our assets, equipment and revenue risks protected, we are able to ensure our projects are investible in future and will consistently supply the energy that is expected. We look forward to working with our insurance partners on other projects in future.”
Keeping biomass projects on track
Closer to home, GCube has been chosen to provide insurance underwriting services for two of the UK’s biggest biomass projects. The first development, Ridham Dock, in Kent, is a waste wood pellet heat combustion facility that is due to provide 80MW of electricity to the UK grid. The developer, Renewable Energy Projects Limited, expects the plant to be completed by March 2015.
The second project is an £80million, 15MW, combined heat and power plant in Lisahally, Belfast that is also scheduled for completion in 2015. Similar to Ridham Dock, the project will secure the majority of its fuel from waste wood supplies. Developed by Evermore Renewable Energy, the project has secured £20million in funding from the UK’s Government’s Green Investment Bank and should provide power for 25, 000 homes.
According to Jatin Sharma, Business Development Leader at GCube, insurance is essential to reduce the financial impact of renewable energy project failures, whether they lead to cost overruns, schedule delays or reduced output in generation. “Insurance ensures projects are bankable and the excellent financial strength of GCube’s supporting syndicates is a differentiator for our clients building large projects over several years, ” he told lloyds.com. “Insurers’ interests are aligned to long term owners who wish to ensure plants suffer minimum downtime during their 20 year plus life span.”
Construction risks exist during the biomass plant fabrication, transit, construction/ erection and testing and commissioning stages for a number of different factors including contractor negligence, errors in plant design, changes in scope of design, site management, weather, fires and the handling of equipment.
Associated investor risks that can be mitigated by insurance include loss of revenue that is directly caused by physical loss or damage that delays the start-up of a project, which would otherwise impair its financial viability.
Despite strong interest from investors, future financial commitments for biomass projects are not guaranteed, Sharma says. “That’s why we were especially keen to develop a programme that provided investors with the confidence they required for financing the projects. We manage construction and investor risks, leaving investors free to focus on making the energy generating infrastructure really work, ” he said.