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Saturday 16 December 2017
16 December 2017 - NEWS UPDATE
Renewable Energy

Cornish survey reveals sceptism over Green Investment Bank

A majority of renewables experts do not believe the £3 billion invested in the Green Investment Bank (GIB) is sufficient to help accelerate the UK's transition to a more green economy. Only one fifth believe the GIB's investment strategy is correct, and difficulty in sourcing private sector investment is seen as the greatest threat to the development of renewable power generation in the UK, according to a survey.

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Private sector investment is chief problem for major renewable energy projects

The study, conducted by Invest in Cornwall among the UK's foremost experts in the renewable energy industry, reveal deep scepticism on whether the GIB will deliver significant benefits.

Six in 10 (61%) of those surveyed do not believe the £3 billion invested in the GIB is sufficient to help accelerate the UK's transition to a more green economy within the next five years.

The research also reveals concerns regarding the investment strategy adopted by the bank. The GIB has indicated that 80% of its initial investments will be targeted at lower risk projects using existing technologies.

Just 21% of the experts surveyed believe this strategy is correct given the low priority assigned to developing new technologies in the first tranche of investments.

According to the majority (57%) of those surveyed, the government should do more to subsidise investment in low carbon technologies.

Those that did not believe the government should do more to subsidise these technologies, argued that the renewables marketplace should be allowed to operate in line with market forces and could be distorted by undue government intervention.

Julian German, Cornwall Council's Cabinet Member for Economy & Culture said:  "There are increasing concerns amongst experts in the renewable energy industry that not enough is being done to support low carbon technologies.

"While the £3 billion pledged to the GIB is a welcome start, it is disappointing there is not a greater emphasis on supporting cutting edge projects that are more difficult to underwrite through private funding, as widespread commercialisation of these technologies has yet to be realised.

"It would be welcome if the investment strategy adopted by the GIB evolved to adopt a greater focus on more innovative technologies, where we have the opportunity to develop genuine 'world firsts' that lead the renewables market in a new direction.

"Making the transition to a truly low carbon economy will require extensive capital investment. Difficulties in securing sufficient capital from the public and private sector is holding back development.

"The technologies required to drive a low carbon economy will need significant investment before we can generate adequate economies of scale to drive down the unit cost of power generation."

"For increases in deployment of proven renewable technologies, Cornwall Council will work with residents to bring forward community owned renewable schemes. It is important that residents receive some of the financial benefits from the deployment of renewable technologies."

Experts were asked to rank what they felt represented the greatest threat to the development of renewable power generation in the UK.  Difficulty in sourcing sufficient levels of private sector investment was cited as the greatest barrier to developments in this industry.  Overcoming local parochialism and nimbyism are highlighted as holding back the creation of renewable energy facilities such as wind farms.  The resurgence of the oil industry is also acting as a barrier to the development of green energy facilities.

Top ten greatest threats to the development of renewable power generation in the UK:

1. Difficulty sourcing sufficient levels of private sector investment;

2. Nimbyism (the public objecting to developments, such as the establishment of wind farms in their local area);

3. Thriving oil industry;

4. Difficulties in driving down unit cost of renewable energy;

5. Lack of coordination between firms offering renewable solutions;

6. Smaller firms being crowded out of the marketplace by big multinationals;

7. Planning consent issues;

8. Consumers reluctance to pay more for their energy;

9. International competition for investment;

10. Lack of consumer demand for renewable energy.

Richard Parkinson, Managing Director of leading Cornish marine renewable consultancy, Mojo Maritime, added: "Cornwall has an extremely well developed supply chain supporting the marine energy sector and the potential contribution to the local economy in terms of employment and inward investment should not be underestimated. New, clean and sustainable sources of energy can be released by relatively small investments."

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