3 Government funding and support |
41. In this Part we discuss the support provided
by the Government for green investments through the Green Investment
Bank and Infrastructure UK loan guarantees, but also through separate
funds for community energy projects. The Government told us:
New sources of capital are
required for investment in green technologies, given the overall
magnitude of investment required in the United Kingdom. A relative
lack of information and expertise amongst such investors about
green technologies ... could be a barrier to attracting additional
As well as providing finance, Government initiatives
aim to remove these barriers by managing risks, simplifying processes
and building the skills and experience in these projects.
Green Investment Bank
42. The Government set up the Green Investment Bank,
which started operating in October 2012, to "enable projects
that are both green and commercial".
In our 2011 report on the Green Investment Bank we recommended
that the Bank should be set up as soon as possible, with a significant
initial capitalisation and the ability to borrow. The Government
accepted our recommendations, although they announced that the
Bank would only be able to borrow in principle from 2015-16 but
only "once the target for debt to be falling as percentage
of GDP has been met" (paragraph 48).
Four-fifths of the value of its investments is divided between
four main 'priority sectors' (offshore wind, waste recycling and
energy from waste, non-domestic energy efficiency, and support
for the Government's Green Deal), as stipulated by the terms of
its State Aid approval from the European Commission. Shaun Kingsbury,
the chief executive of the Green Investment Bank, told us:
... we are an infrastructure
investor. We don't invest in venture capital or technology; we
don't invest in project development or private equity type investments.
We have an infrastructure mandate, which was agreed with Brussels
when we established the Bank. We can provide capital into the
debt or the equity or a mezzanine strip in a project, as long
as it gets an appropriate rate of return.
43. The Bank was mandated to achieve its aims by
'crowding in' investment. It has Government funding of £3.8
billion, and at the time the Bank was established the Government
expected that, with private finance invested alongside the Bank,
there would be "an additional £18 billion of investment
in green infrastructure by 2014-15 as a result of the [Bank]".
Shaun Kingsbury explained:
We don't want to take away
the risks from the market; we want to help solve the risks with
the market. We want to find solutions, where the people best able
to take the construction risk should take the construction risk,
and the people best able to take the technology risk should take
the technology risk. If we can get those structured, and it means
the first transactions take a huge amount of time and effort,
and get the risk allocation right and then demonstrate we are
serious about it by putting large chunks of capital alongside
it with the right risk adjusted return, then other people will
come and repeat.
As of January 2014, the Green Investment Bank had
committed £764m, to mobilise £3,200m when fully deployed,
a ratio of private to public investment of 3:1.
Shaun Kingsbury told us in September 2013 that "we think
£3 to £1, for example, 25% of the total capital, is
a pretty good number."
44. Shaun Kingsbury told us that "our vision
for the Bank is to create an enduring institution".
It was looking for low-risk investments that are unable to find
finance, rather than to speculate on higher risk technologies
or to be "early stage technology pickers".
It is aiming for a balanced portfolio:
We are investing against
a portfolio of technologies and a portfolio of sectors. We have
senior secured debt, mezzanine, equity, geared equity and increasing
amounts of risk. When we look across a balanced portfolio, we
will undoubtedly, looking back five years from now, have some
projects that were huge successes and some that failed to perform
to the level we expected. Overall I expect this to be very profitable
but it is not that there will not be situations where, frankly,
something did not hit the numbers we said it would. We are taking
risk, but we are doing it in a very thoughtful, structured and
He described how the Bank:
... mapped out all the places
that we could invest in and we basically built a two-by-two matrix
that looked at risk and looked at green impact, and where we wanted
to focus was the areas that had the biggest green impact and the
45. The Bank is not only seeking to help to fill
the gap in the funds being made available for investment in green
infrastructure. It is also about demonstrating what is possible
to others. Shaun Kingsbury highlighted the Banks investment in
replicable projects: "We are breaking new ground. It is important
that we create structures in the transactions we do that other
people will recognise and be able to repeat."
Selecting projects that would secure good commercial rates of
return played a part in this.
We want to find solutions,
where the people best able to take the construction risk should
take the construction risk and the people best able to take the
technology risk should take the technology risk. If we can get
those structured, and it means the first transactions take a huge
amount of time and effort, and get the risk allocation right and
then demonstrate we are serious about it by putting large chunks
of capital alongside it with the right risk adjusted return, then
other people will come and repeat.
46. Jonathan Maxwell of Greencoat investors, who
received £50m from the Green Investment Bank to invest in
both onshore wind and offshore wind, explained to us how that
approach was critical for funding the construction phase of projects.
He described how once renewable energy schemes were operational
they could then be sold to longer-term investors, such as pension
Ian Simm of Impax Investment Management concluded that the Bank
had been successful so far on that front:
The Green Investment Bank
is at a very early stage in its lifetime and we should not judge
it just yet, but it has been very successful in identifying projects
that fit its mandate, in my view, and ... it has attracted a significant
volume of pure private sector capital into the areas that it is
supposed to be focusing on. I think from the current vantage point
it is doing a good job. It appears to be successful in catalysing
investment into offshore wind, waste management and biomass in
the energy sector.
47. However, we heard some criticisms of the Green
Investment Bank's approach. Friends of the Earth, whilst supportive
of the Bank, stated that it believed that the Bank had "made
investments that we believe are environmentally questionable",
citing the partial conversion of the Drax power station to biomass.
Biofuelwatch argued that the Green Investment Bank investment
in the Drax conversion is not consistent with the Bank's overall
goal for green impact, which includes the protection of the natural
environment, enhancement of biodiversity and the promotion of
Shaun Kingsbury told us that ultimately the decision to fund Drax
was based on a "Government decision about what represents
green", but added:
We take that a step further
by writing that into all the documentation, by having real teeth
in those agreements and by ensuring that we follow up by auditing
and tracking that, so that if, in the end, we found that any investment
we made was not following the agreements we had in place around
how it sourced its biomass, we have the ability to retrieve the
loan, put them into default and get our money back.
ABILITY TO BORROW
48. In our March 2011 report on the Green Investment
Bank, we recommended that it be able to raise its own finance
and offer a range of commercially driven investments as soon as
possible. The Government has prevented it borrowing until 2015-16
and "once government debt is falling as a percentage of GDP".
Last year's Autumn Statement noted that such a milestone had slipped
to 2016-17, although the graphs in the Autumn Statement report
showed projected debt to be, if not falling, at least no worse
than flat between 2015-16 and 2016-17.
Several of our witnesses questioned why the Bank's borrowing should
be controlled when the similar KfW bank in Germany borrowed significant
sums in order to provide extensive loan finance to renewables
and energy efficiency schemes, particularly community schemes.
In our 2011 report on the Bank we noted how the Government's decision
to limit the Green Investment Bank's borrowing hinged on the decision
by the Office for National Statistics to classify the Bank's borrowing
as 'public sector debt'.
Shaun Kingsbury told us that "a natural step in due course
might be a combination of public and private sector ownership",
but that was not the Bank's current focus.
My view has been that if
I am successful in that and we do build a very green and profitable
investment bank here, there will be lots of sources of capital
open to a profitable and successful company, one of which would
be debt. We would like to borrow at some point in the future,
but right now I have plenty of capital. 
49. The business and energy Minister, Michael Fallon,
considered that "it has all the funding it needs for the
moment; it has funding through to the end of 2015-16. It has plenty
to be getting on with and plenty of projects to be investing in,
so I think it is a little early to start comparing it directly
with its German equivalent."
He noted that "[the Bank] has approval up until October 2016
and we will have to go back to the [European] Commission and extend
that approval if we are to continue to fund its borrowing rather
than push it out into the capital markets."
50. The Green Investment Bank has made a solid
start, making investments which will help to fill part of the
gap in the required level of green investment. The Bank's aim,
rightly, is to establish itself as an enduring institution. It
needs to be able to raise significant further private sector capital
for investment alongside the Bank's programmes, and to borrow
itself to enlarge the scale of its work. However, with Autumn
Statement 2013 indicating a flat, rather than falling, trajectory
in 2015-16 for Government debt as a percentage of GDPthe
Government's test for allowing the Bank to borrowthere
is doubt about the prospects of the Bank being able to borrow
in that year as originally planned. The Government must make
an early and clear statement about the Green Investment Bank's
long-term future, beyond the 2015-16 horizon of its Spending Review
funding settlement. The Government should declare in Budget 2014,
on the basis of the flat projections for Government debt in the
last Autumn Statement remaining valid, that the Bank will be permitted
to borrow in 2015-16.
51. On energy efficiency, Stephanie Maier of Aviva
Investors was positive about the Bank's role, particularly the
Aviva Investors and the Bank are jointly funding a £36m new
energy innovation centre for Cambridge University Hospitals NHS
Foundation Trust at Addenbrooke's Hospital. The centre is designed
to deliver financial and carbon emissions savings.
The Green Investment Bank has also announced plans to finance
low energy street lighting, by offering local authorities low
fixed rate loans over a period of up to 20 years, with repayments
to be made from the resultant savings.
52. Finance is needed for the Green Deal energy efficiency
scheme, but as we noted in our December 2013 report on Carbon
Budgets, take up has been slow. We concluded that that might indicate
the presence of significant non-financial barriers as well as
financial issues for homeowners.
The Green Deal Finance Company is a not-for-profit company, established
to minimise the set up and administration costs of providing finance
for Green Deals. The Government intend that the loans would be
"regularly aggregated and refinanced in the capital markets
at high investment grade: Aggregating loans in this way provides
access to liquidity for energy efficiency improvements that may
otherwise not be available at the level or scale required by participating
In our report on the Green Investment Bank, we expressed concern
that it would be difficult to achieve the multiple objectives
of the Green Deal, and that the Bank should play a part in financing
The Bank has now committed £125m to the Green Deal Finance
53. In his evidence to the inquiry, Alan Simpson
criticised the Government's approach to financing energy efficiency:
From the insanely complex
(and costly) structure of Green Deal, to the reliance on energy
companies to deliver (over-priced) ECO refurbishment, to the retreat
from national energy efficiency standards and the fixed-budget
(and ever changing) constraints on renewable energy generation,
UK policies on Green Finance seem designed to marginalise its
role and to prop up the powers of the UK's existing energy cartel.
He described how the KfW development bank drives
Germany's energy efficiency programme by providing loans at lower
than market rates through high street banks (having first received
underwriting from Government to facilitate the supply of loan
capital), and writing off up some of the loan, if refurbishment
reaches their 'near-zero' carbon homes standard. In 2011 the KfW
delivered 360,000 whole house upgrades (and supported 370,000
In contrast, Shaun Kingsbury told us that the cost of capital
for the Green Deal was "a little more expensive" than
a mortgage-secured loan.
Although the Green Deal operates under the 'golden rule', that
the expected financial saving should be equal to or greater than
the costs attached to the energy bill, it is not necessarily the
cheapest form of finance for all projects.
By the end of December 2013, 626 households had measures installed,
and a further 986 had indicated that they wanted to proceed or
were in the process of being installed.
54. We are pleased that the Green Investment Bank
has provided funding for Green Deal energy efficiency schemes.
However, the number of schemes financed by the Green Deal is still
some way off the required level, or that achieved in Germany.
The Government should make the Green Deal simpler and more attractive
to households in order to achieve the level of scale-up required.
Steps could include significantly reducing the assessment fee
and the interest rate on the Green Deal loan, to be more in line
with the terms of the Help to Buy scheme equity loans which start
55. The Green Investment Bank has not addressed the
problems which community energy schemes have in accessing finance.
This was an issue raised at our Guildhall seminar last year.
Robert Rabinowitz compared the situation in the UK, where perhaps
1% of renewable energy is either owned directly by individuals
or through communities, and Germany where the figure is much greater.
In Germany, 35% of renewable energy generation was owned by individuals
There has been a longer tradition in Germany of affordable finance
for community projects supported by the KfW development bank,
which provides significant financing to support and promote community
energy (paragraph 53).
56. The Green Investment Bank has not so far invested
in community projects because of the scale of its operations:
"We have £3.8 billion that we wish to invest over the
next few years. It is very difficult to do that in chunks of £1
million or £2 million for a community project; we have to
invest that in chunks of £25 million and above."
The Community Energy Strategy states that the Government
are working with the European Commission on including small-scale
onshore wind and hydroelectricity sectors within the Bank's approved
scope of operation.
When we spoke to the Commission in February 2014 they told us
that the decision-making process for approval did not need to
take a long time. The Government has spent
a long time talking about extending the remit of the Green Investment
Bank to community energy without being able to show any progress.
The Government should prepare and submit the relevant information
to the Commission to secure State Aid approval for these additional
areas of activity for the Green Investment Bank as quickly as
possible and should work with the Green Investment Bank to develop
effective aggregation methods to facilitate smaller scale lending.
57. Mike Smyth of Energy 4All told us that community
energy projects in the UK are usually funded by both local residents
and outside investors through community energy groups: "At
Energy 4All we find that approximately half the members of the
project are local and half are from what is described as a community
But bringing together investors through 'crowdfunding' has risks,
with "a high level of trust [needed in] the integrity of
the people running those projects because, at the moment, they
are not subject to [Financial Conduct Authority] disclosure rules".
58. We heard how community energy has been dominated
by areas where people have the specific financial skills required
to set up projects. Robert Rabinowitz pointed out that "if
you want to know where community energy projects are, look at
where the retired solicitors and accountants live".
He explained that one of the major issues with community energy
"is not the attractiveness of the returns; the problems are
around the transaction costs and the risk management procedures."
Part of the problem is that
small community energy groups find it very hard to play the numbers
game on planning, for example, because they only have one project,
whereas a commercial developer might have 20 projects. ... Some
of them are going to fall away and some of them will survive,
but if you only have one project and you are reliant on semi-retired
people and you do not have deep equity to underwrite development
planning risks, then it can be very challenging. I think we need
a mechanism to mutualise risk among the smaller groups so that
you replace the deeper pockets that a larger organisation would
Mike Smyth of Energy 4All explained how in Germany:
KfW do provide that backstop
role. They have a set of standardised documents and transactions
and they will then provide guarantees to the lending bank for
a very modest fee. That is another way that Germany is driving
the development of renewable energy and community ownership.
59. James Vaccaro of Triodos Bank told us "the
next logical stage" would be using the more efficient technology
that is currently deployed at a larger scale "within the
local environment, ... developed by local people".
The Government launched its Community Energy Strategy in
January 2014, which set out a range of initiatives to support
local energy projects. It announced a new £10m Urban Community
Energy Fund for England to go alongside the £15m Rural Community
Energy Fund. The Community Energy Strategy also announced the
"establishment of a 'One Stop Shop' information resource
for community energy, developed with community energy groups using
seed funding from government".
60. In December 2013 the European Commission launched
a consultation on proposed new rules for State Aid for the energy
sector, which could potentially affect the viability of community
The Government's Community Energy Strategy promises a consultation
in "spring 2014" on doubling the maximum capacity ceiling
for solar PV Feed-in Tariffs from 5MW to 10MW for community projects.
However, the Commission's proposals envisage feed-in
tariffs being available only for the smallest renewable energy
projects (under 2MW) and payments to those above that threshold
being determined by competitive auction, which might require community
projects to compete on price against large energy companies. This
runs counter to the Government's plans in the recently published
Community Energy Strategy:
In response to feedback from
community groups on the type of financial incentive that works
best for them, through the Energy Act 2013 the Government took
powers which will allow the Secretary of State to increase the
maximum capacity for community projects eligible for [feed-in
tariffs] from 5MW to 10MW. We intend to consult on the use of
this power in spring 2014.
At this stage our view is
that this change would address the potential access to market
issues that community groups looking at these larger projects
faced, and remove the perverse incentive for community groups
to limit their electricity generation projects to 5MW. This will
help community energy realise its electricity generation potential.
61. James Vaccaro also identified access to the grid
as a key factor for successful community energy,
as well as local authority engagement:
... things are changing and
there are some local authorities who are trying to take leadership,
but they have to do it themselves a little bit first to show they
are serious because there is not a wealth of community energy
groups there for them to choose. It is a bit of a chicken and
egg situation and, in a way, they have to be able to show they
are committed to it for the long term to be able to generate the
Michael Fallon told us in December 2013 that he "would
envisage us mapping out a route for community projects to work
with local authorities on schemes of interest to them, whether
that is generation or purchasing, or indeed, ... reducing energy
use or energy demand."
The subsequently published Community Energy Strategy acknowledged
"a lack of capacity and understanding of the benefits of
community energy; inconsistency compared with other local authorities
in the application of planning rules and consents; and confusion
over interpretation of government's energy and climate change
The Strategy envisages partnership and guidance to encourage
local authorities to do more, with a new Community Energy Unit
to be set up in DECC to be a focal point for these issues. It
also states "we will work with Ofgem to look at ways to enable
communities to supply energy, including license lite".
License lite is a scheme to license energy producers to supply
electricity through the local grid. Since it was established in
2009, there have been no License lite agreements, although the
Greater London Authority has applied for a license and is in advanced
stages. Such schemes could help reduce bills by allowing local
communities to receive electricity at lower rates. License lite
relies on reaching agreement with existing District Network Operators
who control access to the local grid.
62. The Government's Community Energy Strategy
addresses a number of the issues of concern raised during our
inquiry. The scale of some of the challenges is significant, and
will require co-ordination between Government departments and
local authorities for progress to be made. We await to see what
'teeth' the Community Energy Unit will have to make progress on
these issues. In contrast, the European Commission's proposals
on energy state aid rules appear to run counter to the strategy's
objective of encouraging community energy groups. The pace
of change has been slow, particularly around key initiatives such
as 'license lite' and State Aid approval for the Green
Investment Bank to be involved in Community Energy. The Government
should work with the European Commission to ensure its proposals
to reduce the threshold for small-scale feed-in tariffs are not
carried through. The first priorities of the new Community Energy
Unit in DECC should be to seek early State Aid approval for the
Green Investment Bank to invest in community energy, and to actively
engage with other departmentsincluding DCLG and the Treasuryto
ensure that all local authorities have the tools and resources
to play a full part in making such schemes a widespread and successful
part of the UK energy mix. It should prioritise initiatives to
allow community energy producers to directly supply energy at
lower prices to local communities, and work with Ofgem to make
it mandatory for District Network Operators to work with License
lite and set fixed fees for this.
Sources of funding
63. Although we heard that the Green Investment Bank
has sufficient funds for its current projects, it is scaling up
its operations and there is still a 'gap' between the funding
levels required and currently available. Under the infrastructure
Guarantee Scheme, introduced in 2012, the Government has been
providing guarantees for up to £40 billion for large scale
projects, to avoid delays to investment in major UK infrastructure
projects that might stall because of adverse credit conditions.
The Government supports projects which "may find it difficult
to obtain private finance, not necessarily because of the commercial
or economic viability of the individual infrastructure projects
but because the banking markets are currently constrained and
providers of finance are taking significantly longer to approve
lending to these projects."
The scheme has included some 'green' projects, including energy
and energy efficiency programmes, for example providing £75
million to convert the Drax power station to run off biomass,
and £9 million to support investment in improving the energy
efficiency of industrial buildings and urban infrastructure.
64. Michael Fallon told us that the Guarantee Scheme
and the Green Investment Bank co-ordinate well and work together
The UK Guarantee Scheme ensures
that it is easier for those financing these big projects, whether
they are transport or nuclear power or a biomass conversion, to
access that kind of finance in the markets; it enables them to
do it on slightly easier terms. It does not make it cheaper, but
it enables them to do it over a longer timeframe. The Green Investment
Bank of course is taking a direct stake in some of the projects,
so there is relatively little overlap between the two. There are
a couple of examples, one of which is Drax, where both instruments
have been deployed, but they have different purposes.
Shaun Kingsbury told us:
[Infrastructure UK] can provide
debt guaranteesthat is the only tool they havebut
we have more flexibility in the ways we can provide the capital.
If they go in and it is a project where they would like to provide
a debt guarantee, it means that the lenders are not looking at
the project, they are really looking at the guarantee. It extends
the market of people willing to lend money because they do not
need to be experts in biomass or waste or whatever, they just
need to accept the credit guarantee from Infrastructure UK.
65. There are significant challenges to be overcome
in achieving a low-carbon energy supply. Many of these can be
overcome by political consensus, but some will require technological
innovation, and greater collaboration between countries. The EU's
Horizon 2020 funds important areas such as Carbon Capture and
Storage and interconnectors between Member States.
There are also other EU funding schemes which potentially offer
opportunity for greater investment, including the European Regional
Development Fund. Future European Regional Development Fund rounds
(2014-20) will include a thematic focus on the low-carbon economy,
and more developed regions such as the UK will be required to
spend a minimum of 20% of the funds on this theme.
66. Within the UK, there are also funds for innovation,
such as Ofgem's Low Carbon Networks Fund.
Local Enterprise Partnerships could provide support for green
finance. Whereas the former Regional Development Agencies had
low carbon enterprise as a core theme, the Regional Growth Fund
(which can be used by Local Enterprise Partnerships) does not
include low carbon development as part of its core criteria. It
encourage all bids "to demonstrate, where possible, how their
proposal will contribute to green economic growth",
but as we recommended in our report
on Sustainability in BIS last year, the Government should ensure
that Regional Growth Fund grants are more closely aligned with
the need for action on environmental protection and climate change.
NEW SOURCES OF FINANCE
67. We heard suggestions for how the Government could
raise more investment, through re-directing Quantitative Easing
and a Financial Transactions Tax. The New Economics Foundation
told us that the Bank of England should re-direct Quantitative
Easingthe policy of purchasing financial asset with central
bank money, increasing the amount of 'liquid' funds in the economy.
The Bank of England's Asset Purchase Facility
has since January 2009 made total assets purchases of £375
New Economics Foundation believed that the aim of Quantitative
Easing was "to stimulate the economy by nudging investors
to invest in other, productive sectors of the economy, and by
reducing long-term interest rates, making investment more attractive"
and proposed that:
the Asset Purchase Facility
buys bonds issued by agencies with a specific remit for sustainable
investment within the UK, such as house building and retrofit
and low carbon infrastructure.
The Green House also told us "We would support
the recent call ... that quantitative easing should be used strategically
to provide finance for green infrastructure."
The New Economics Foundation explained that:
Even if there is no additional
quantitative easing, and there has not been the last couple of
quarters-the Governor has chosen not to increase it£100
billion-worth of corporate bonds will reach maturity over the
next 5 years and the Bank of England is then faced with the decision
as to whether it renews those bonds or the Government just pay
In response, Michael Fallon told us he did not support
Quantitative easing is a
matter for the Bank of England and the Monetary Policy Committee.
Parliament has given that committee a very precise remit to focus
on price stability, and I think it would undermine its task of
pursuing price stability if we started to give it conflicting
policy objectives or asked it to target certain sectors of the
economy or indeed to start thinking about how some Government
spending programmes would be financed. I would not support that.
68. Josh Ryan-Collins of New Economics Foundation
envisaged a Financial Transactions Tax having the benefits of
raising green finance, reducing financial speculation and improving
macro-economic stability. He believed that high-frequency trading
is "net socially negative in terms of welfare costs, because
it is fine in the good times, but in the bad times it pulls liquidity
out of countries when they most need it".
Friends of the Earth told us that they "strongly support"
a financial transactions tax.
Aviva Investors, however, said that they would favour a trade
cancellation fee in place of a tax.
Michael Fallon told us that the Government's opposed the current
EU proposals as it could add costs to business and affect the
financial services sector:
We are not opposed to a financial
transaction tax in principle, but we believe it would only be
acceptable here, it would work only if it was done on a global
basis and that kind of consensus is simply lacking at the moment.
There is not even a consensus in the European Union. There are
only 11 member states, a minority of the member states, who are
currently signed up to trying to proceed with it and we do not
think that is the right way to make policy. Of course if they
did go ahead, it could be quite damaging to us here. It could
put up costs and damage our financial interests, so we are obviously
concerned at the extent to which the European Union is pursuing
69. Whilst we recognise the difficulties inherent
in redirecting Quantitative Easing and securing the international
support needed to introduce a financial transaction tax, we consider
there is merit in further investigating such devices to provide
an additional source of finance for green investment. We urge
the Government to look positively at ways of overcoming the problems
relating to such funding sources.
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