UK Green Investment Bank Financial Services Limited (GIBFS) has today announced that it has executed a Second Close on new commitments of £355m for the Offshore Wind Fund, bringing total committed capital to £818m and nearing its £1bn target. This makes the GIBFS-managed fund the largest renewable energy fund in the UK.
Second close investors include Swedish life insurance and pension company AMF Pensionsförsäkring AB (AMF) and Strathclyde Pension Fund. The Fund represents their first investments in the UK offshore wind sector. Second close investors join UK-based pension funds, a major sovereign wealth fund and UK Green Investment Bank plc (GIB) in the partnership, which held an initial close on £463m earlier this year.
The Fund is the first to be dedicated solely to investments in offshore wind power generation globally and provides long-term institutional investors with the opportunity to access the UK’s green infrastructure sector.
The second close has been marked with the acquisition by the fund of GIB’s option on a 10% stake in Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farm. The 576 MW wind farm – located in Liverpool Bay – was officially inaugurated in June of this year.
The Fund now has three assets. These three offshore wind farms are able to produce 2,980 GWh of renewable energy annually, enough to power more than 700,000 homes or all the homes in Northern Ireland.
On completion of the Gwynt y Môr acquisition, more than half of the Fund’s capital will be invested in income-generating assets.
Amber Rudd, Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said: “Offshore wind has been a UK success story and I welcome this long-term, private sector involvement in what is now the largest renewable energy fund in the UK. This demonstrates how we are open for business and the best place in the world to invest in offshore wind.”
Shaun Kingsbury, Executive Chairman of the Board, UK Green Investment Bank Financial Services Limited, and Chief Executive of the UK Green Investment Bank plc, said: “We created the OSW Fund to provide investors like pension funds, insurance companies and other asset managers with access to a team of market-leading industry experts. We are delighted to be working with investors of the calibre of AMF and Strathclyde Pension Fund, each of whom are leading the way in their recognition of the business value of investments in green infrastructure. This is a great way to put infrastructure money to work in the UK, the world’s leading market for offshore wind.”
Karl Smith, Fund Managing Director, UK Green Investment Bank Financial Services Limited, said: “This second successful round of fundraising highlights the growing confidence that home-grown and international investors have in well-developed and well-managed offshore wind assets in the UK. We are in advanced discussions with other potential investors and progressing quickly towards final close and reaching our £1bn target.”
Peder Hassley, Chief Investment Officer, AMF, said: “AMF is responsible for managing the pensions of 4 million Swedes and is attracted to opportunities where responsible investments and good returns go hand-in-hand. We are very pleased to have committed to GIBFS’s Offshore Wind Fund as we strongly believe that investing in UK green infrastructure fulfils both requirements.”
Councillor Paul Rooney, Chair, Strathclyde Pension Fund, said: “This is our biggest investment to date in green infrastructure in the UK. Our fund was already working closely with the Green Investment Bank to provide finance for community-scale renewable energy projects and we are excited to follow that project by taking a stake in a long-term and globally significant investment in offshore wind power. We are confident it is one that will deliver not only sustainable and secure energy infrastructure for the future of our communities, but a sustainable and secure future for our members who are saving for retirement.”
Evercore Private Funds Group is acting as advisor and exclusive global placement agent for the fundraise and King & Wood Mallesons is acting a legal counsel to the fund.
Commenting on the intermediate close of the Green Investment Bank’s Offshore Wind Fund, Andrew Jamieson, CEO of the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, said: “This is excellent news that reinforces the UK’s primary role in the development of an offshore renewable energy industry that will be a huge economic boon to the UK’s economy in the decades to come.
“The readiness of the international investment community – and the more risk averse pension funds in particular – to invest in the Green Investment Bank’s Offshore Wind Fund is testament to industry’s concerted efforts to reduce risk and lower costs on the journey to parity with fossil fuel generation.”
Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis
Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.
Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?”
Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.
Tip #1: Focus & Determination
Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.
Tip #2: Minimize Spending
One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!
Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal
You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.
Investing in Clean Energy
One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.
With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.
The Future of Green Biz
As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.
Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.
In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!
What Should We Make of The Clean Growth Strategy?
It was hardly surprising the Clean Growth Strategy (CGS) was much anticipated by industry and environmentalists. After all, its publication was pushed back a couple of times. But with the document now in the public domain, and the Government having run a consultation on its content, what ultimately should we make of what’s perhaps one of the most important publications to come out of the Department for Business, Energy and the Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in the past 12 months?
The starting point, inevitably, is to decide what the document is and isn’t. It is, certainly, a lengthy and considered direction-setter – not just for the Government, but for business and industry, and indeed for consumers. While much of the content was favourably received in terms of highlighting ways to ensure clean growth, critics – not unjustifiably – suggested it was long on pages but short on detailed and finite policy commitments, accompanied by clear timeframes for action.
A Strategy, Instead of a Plan
But should we really be surprised? The answer, in all honesty, is probably not really. BEIS ministers had made no secret of the fact they would be publishing a ‘strategy’ as opposed to a ‘plan,’ and that gave every indication the CGS would set a direction of travel and be largely aspirational. The Government had consulted on its content, and will likely respond to the consultation during the course of 2018. And that’s when we might see more defined policy commitments and timeframes from action.
The second criticism one might level at the CGS is that indicated the use of ‘flexibilities’ to achieve targets set in the carbon budgets – essentially using past results to offset more recent failings to keep pace with emissions targets. Claire Perry has since appeared in front of the BEIS Select Committee and insisted she would be personally disappointed if the UK used flexibilities to fill the shortfall in meeting the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, but this is difficult ground for the Government. The Committee on Climate Change was critical of the proposed use of efficiencies, which would somewhat undermine ministers’ good intentions and commitment to clean growth – particularly set against November’s Budget, in which the Chancellor maintained the current carbon price floor (potentially giving a reprieve to coal) and introduced tax changes favourable to North Sea oil producers.
A 12 Month Green Energy Initiative with Real Teeth
But, there is much to appreciate and commend about the CGS. It fits into a 12-month narrative for BEIS ministers, in which they have clearly shown a commitment to clean growth, improving energy efficiency and cutting carbon emissions. Those 12 months have seen the launch of the Industrial Strategy – firstly in Green Paper form, which led to the launch of the Faraday Challenge, and then a White Paper in which clean growth was considered a ‘grand challenge’ for government. Throughout these publications – and indeed again with the CGS – the Government has shown itself to be an advocate of smart systems and demand response, including the development of battery technology.
Electrical Storage Development at Center of Broader Green Energy Push
While the Faraday Challenge is primarily focused on the development of batteries to support the proliferation of electric vehicles (which will support cuts to carbon emissions), it will also drive down technology costs, supporting the deployment of small and utility-scale storage that will fully harness the capability of renewables. Solar and wind made record contributions to UK electricity generation in 2017, and the development of storage capacity will help both reduce consumer costs and support decarbonisation.
The other thing the CGS showed us it that the Government is happy to be a disrupter in the energy market. The headline from the publication was the plans for legislation to empower Ofgem to cap the costs of Standard Variable Tariffs. This had been an aspiration of ministers for months, and there’s little doubt that driving down costs for consumers will be a trend within BEIS policy throughout 2018.
But the Government also seems happy to support disruption in the renewables market, as evidenced by the commitment (in the CGS) to more than half a billion pounds of investment in Pot 2 of Contracts for Difference (CfDs) – where the focus will be on emerging rather than established technologies.
This inevitably prompted ire from some within the industry, particularly proponents of solar, which is making an increasing contribution to the UK’s energy mix. But, again, we shouldn’t really be surprised. Since the subsidy cuts of 2015, ministers have given no indication or cause to think there will be public money afforded to solar development. Including solar within the CfD auction would have been a seismic shift in policy. And while ministers’ insistence in subsidy-free solar as the way forward has been shown to be based on a single project, we should expect that as costs continue to be driven down and solar makes record contributions to electricity generation, investment will follow – and there will ultimately be more subsidy-free solar farms, albeit perhaps not in 2018.
Meanwhile, by promoting emerging technologies like remote island wind, the Government appears to be favouring diversification and that it has a range of resources available to meet consumer demand. Perhaps more prescient than the decision to exclude established renewables from the CfD auction is the subsequent confirmation in the budget that Pot 2 of CfDs will be the last commitment of public money to renewable energy before 2025.
In short, we should view the CGS as a step in the right direction, albeit one the Government should be elaborating on in its consultation response. Its publication, coupled with the advancement this year of the Industrial Strategy indicates ministers are committed to the clean growth agenda. The question is now how the aspirations set out in the CGS – including the development of demand response capacity for the grid, and improving the energy efficiency of commercial and residential premises – will be realised.
It’s a step in the right direction. But, inevitably, there’s much more work to do.
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