The Green Investment Bank (GIB) has unveiled an £11m investment in a biomass plant in Port Talbot, Wales, as it looks to continue the expansion of its portfolio across a range of green technologies.
Greensphere Capital LLP, which manages the UK Green and Sustainable Waste and Energy Investment Limited Partnership (UKGSWEI) fund, will take a stake in the operational biomass facility, which currently provides electricity to thousands of homes.
The GIB is one of the largest investors in the UKGSWEI, and will help with the upgrading of the existing 14.7 megawatts (MW) plant run by Western Bio-energy Limited.
Shaun Kingsbury, GIB chief executive, said, “This investment will secure the long-term future of an important Welsh renewable energy plant and will improve its efficiency and sustainability.
“The Greensphere fund was set up, in part, to help support the UK’s waste wood biomass sector and its first acquisition of an operational asset is an important step.”
The £11m investment aims to make a number of improvements in the existing plant, such as refurbishment and increase in Grade A waste wood as a fuel source, in order to create jobs and improve efficiency of the facility, which already powers 28,000 homes in Wales.
Greensphere has already signed an agreement with Stobart Biomass to provide feedstock to the plant for its lifetime, a move that would help keeping costs down.
The GIB – set up by the government and given £3.8 billion to invest – announced in its annual report in June that it had invested £635m in low-carbon projects such as energy efficiency, renewable energy and waste management.
The government’s new criteria for biomass plants, announced in August, were criticised by environmental groups, who said that the measures had serious loopholes. Meanwhile, the Renewable Energy Association (REA) – the trade body for the industry – said the studies used by green campaigners to formulate their stance had taken forestry management at its worst case scenario.