Green Investment Group: Bank confirms £1.6bn of backing for green energy projects since privatisation

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Green Investment Group: Bank confirms £1.6bn of backing for green energy projects since privatisation
Green Investment Group: Bank confirms £1.6bn of backing for green energy projects since privatisation
The Green Investment Group (GIG) has invested or arranged more than £1.6bn of capital for green energy projects since the formerly-state owned bank was sold into private hands last year.

Originally set up by the UK government as the Green Investment Bank (GIB) in 2012, the institution was sold for £2.3 billion in August 2017 to Australian banking giant Macquarie.

The move sparked criticism from green groups who feared the bank’s focus on clean projects and catalysing role could be diluted.

However, Macquarie vowed to continue GIB’s green mission and invest £3bn in low carbon projects up to 2020.

The report provides an update on the renamed bank’s progress towards that goal, detailing how the company has extended its activity into development-stage investing and expanded beyond the UK to invest in renewables projects in Europe, Asia and North America since privatisation.

During its first year, the GIG has supported 10 new green transactions, arranged “one of the world’s largest and longest” green power purchase agreements for its newly-acquired 650MW onshore wind farm in Sweden, and launched a new energy solutions advisory service division, the report confirmed.

Overall, GIG estimates its investments over the past year will over their lifetime generate enough renewable energy to power 864,000 homes, divert 16,000kt of waste from landfill, and help avoid 17,000kt of greenhouse gas emissions – equivalent of removing 300,000 cars from the road.

Critics raised concerns at the time of its privatisation that the GIG was sold off too cheaply and that its remit to focus investments in the green economy could be watered down.

A report by government watchdog the National Audit Office warned last year that, although it has promised to do so, Macquarie has no legal obligation to continue with the former GIB’s long term green mission.

However, GIG’s global head Mark Dooley hailed an “outstanding inaugural year” since privatisation and reiterated the company’s commitment to supporting green energy projects.

“We’ve expanded our global footprint, and developed innovative investment solutions to support the technologies”, he said.

“While we expand our global reach alongside the scope of expertise and services we offer, our role remains simple and unchanged – we want to make new green energy projects happen.

Major investments by the GIG include £38 million financing for a large-scale waste-to-energy plant on the site of the former Ferrybridge C coal-fired power station in West Yorkshire last year, as well as the acquisition of a 50 per cent stake in Covanta’s waste-to-energy plant in Dublin.

It also runs joint-venture UK Climate Investments alongside the UK government, which this summer helped finance Lightsource BP’s 60MW Wagdari solar farm in India.

“Our first Progress Report demonstrates our commitment to reporting on our activities as we pursue our mission and bring our exciting pipeline of projects to reality,” added Dooley.

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