UK Business Secretary announces £60 million funding for community-scale renewables

The UK Business Secretary, Vince Cable, has announced a new source of finance for community-scale projects across the UK.
UK Business Secretary announces £60 million funding for community-scale renewables

Mr Cable made the announcement while on a visit to the UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) headquarters in Edinburgh. The new finance will fund up to 30 projects, generating at least 24 MW of new renewable energy – enough to power 17,500 homes. The first project to be announced is a new hydro-electric power scheme near Crianlarich, north of Loch Lomond. The finance will be the largest single source of equity funding available for UK community-scale renewable energy projects.  

The finance has been provided by the GIB and the Strathclyde Pension Fund (SPF) and will be delivered through Albion Community Power Plc (ACP), a power generation company that builds, controls and operates community-scale energy projects across the UK. It has already identified a substantial project pipeline and will invest the capital on behalf of GIB and SPF. GIB will provide up to £50 million with SPF investing the remaining £10 million. Additionally, ACP is working to attract a further £40 million from co-investors, thereby taking the potential total investable capital to £100 million.

The finance will be used to provide equity funding of between £1 million and £10 million for a broad range of  community-scale renewable construction projects including run-of-river hydro-power, onshore wind on brownfield sites such as industrial estates, and biogas projects including anaerobic digestion and landfill gas. The projects will be built in partnership with project developers such as Infinite Renewables, based in Bridgend, Wales, and Green Highland Renewables, based in Perth, Scotland.

The first project in the pipeline is a 2 MW run-of-river hydro-power project on the River Allt Coire Chaorach near Crianlarich, approximately 10 miles north of Loch Lomond. This £8.5 million project will generate 8 GWh of electricity per year, equivalent to the power requirements of around 1,900 homes. There is enough capacity across the UK for an additional 800 MW of new hydro-power projects generating enough power to provide 500,000 homes with renewable energy. This would require an investment of over £3 billion in remote rural communities, with 80 percent of the capacity in Scotland and the remainder split between England and Wales.

“Renewable energy is the future, and we must continue to use all of the new and established technologies at our disposal to power our homes and businesses in a way that doesn’t damage the environment” said Mr Cable. “Hydro power has a vital role to play in this.  The first project to be funded from a new investment by the Green Investment Bank will use the natural flow of Scotland’s rivers to generate electricity. This project, based in Crianlarich will produce enough power for nearly 2,000 homes and provide high-skilled jobs for the rural communities in Scotland. The Green Investment Bank is at the heart of our industrial strategy, creating sustainable jobs and growth.”

Lord Smith of Kelvin, the Chair of UK GIB, added that the UK is in the process of transforming how it generates its power. In future, the country will see less reliance on a small number of large power stations and more focus on a network of smaller, locally generated, renewable sources of power. Hydro is one example of how this can be achieved.

According to Councillor Paul Rooney, Chair of Strathclyde Pension Fund, although there are a great many opportunities to generate renewable energy at a community level, it can be difficult for even the best-structured projects to access good, long-term finance.

“I’m pleased that Strathclyde Pension Fund will be providing funding to innovative projects that might otherwise have been frozen out of the market – and that the investment made by our members in their own future will support the future of our communities, through improved infrastructure and jobs” Mr Rooney said.

Richard Round, Chief Executive Officer of Green Highland Renewables, added that the sub-2 MW hydro power industry is extremely active in Scotland and the new funds will play an important role in helping developers secure the finance required to build schemes.  

For additional information:

UK Green Investment Bank (GIB)

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