Bidders urged to come forward with renewable energy projects

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YORKSHIRE environmental consultancy CO2 Sense wants businesses and local authorities to come forward with renewable energy projects to bid for funding from the Government’s Green Investment Bank.

The not-for-profit, low-carbon expert is hosting an event in Leeds next month offering legal, financial and technical assistance to bidders.

“Anybody can pull together a list,” said chief executive Joanne Pollard. “We want a pipeline of projects we can take to the Green Investment Bank, not a wishlist.

“The bank has a lot of money to spend quickly. Come and spend it here.”

The Government is setting up the bank to address market failure in low-carbon infrastructure and will provide £3bn in capital in the hope of attracting private sector investment.

Ministers have appointed specialist fund managers to make and manage investments in small-scale projects ahead of winning state aid approval for the bank.

So far, £80m has been committed to invest in waste recycling and reprocessing facilities, pre-treatment projects, energy-from-waste projects and similar ventures.

Ms Pollard hopes local authorities with stalled projects that may have planning approval but no funding will be able to find support under the Government scheme.

Similarly, she wants the private sector to come forward with projects that can be realised.

CO2 Sense said the November 29 event is the only one of its kind in the North to explore renewable energy investment options in detail.

The keynote speaker is Alasdair Grainger, head of feed-in-tariff at Department of Energy and Climate Change, who will discuss the policy landscape and future of Government incentives.

Delegates will also hear from financial and legal experts and from businesses about how they financed their current projects. The Yorkshire Post is media partner of the event.

“This region has huge renewables potential but a key blocker remains presenting projects in a form that investors want to invest in,” said Richard Goodfellow, partner at law firm Addleshaw Goddard, which is the event sponsor.

“There are also a lot of sources of finance in the market and the day will explain how to access that finance.” Mr Pollard said finding investment for green infrastructure projects remains tough. CO2 Sense, formerly owned by regional development agency Yorkshire Forward, has invested £11m to date in various schemes.

She said: “The lenders want as much return with as low risk as possible. That’s not easy for renewable projects to deliver. They are only investing in big things, anything above £10m. Lots of renewable projects are not of that size.”

Risk-averse investors often only lend to projects if there are contracts in place, but contractors will only award tenders once projects are complete, said Ms Pollard.

“They are like Field of Dreams,” she added, referring to the Hollywood film about baseball. “If you build it they will come.”

More clarity from Government on energy policy will help unlock more investment, said Ms Pollard.

Jemma Benson, a consultant at CO2 Sense, said: “The benefits of developing renewable projects are crystal clear. Investing in renewable energy is an extremely effective way to reduce a business’s energy bills and generate a healthy return on investment.

“However, turning a renewable energy plan into reality is far more complex. Securing planning permission is only the first step and many businesses find that the hardest part is financing and installing the project.

“Through this event we aim to unlock the barriers by providing access to industry experts with extensive experience.”