Green Investment Bank plans its first Scottish investment this year

Green Investment Bank CEO Shaun Kingsbury. Picture: Hemedia
Green Investment Bank CEO Shaun Kingsbury. Picture: Hemedia
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THE chief executive of the newly-launched Green Investment Bank (GIB) is confident of securing the state-backed lender’s first investments in Scotland before the end of this year.

Shaun Kingsbury was speaking after the bank’s official launch in Edinburgh today, when details of its first funding projects were unveiled by Business Secretary Vince Cable.

The GIB is backed with £3 billion of UK government money, aimed at boosting the economy by investing in areas such as offshore wind and waste energy.

Its first deals include an £8 million investment in a plant in north-east England that will use anaerobic digestion to generate power from waste, and £5m to reduce energy consumption at facilities owned by manufacturing firm Kingspan.

Kingsbury said he hoped to announce its first investments in Scotland before Christmas.

He added: “It’s difficult to predict, as we’re capitalising other people’s investments to ensure private sector investors come in, and sometimes they work on timelines we can’t affect.”

The GIB is chaired by Lord Smith of Kelvin, who is also chairman of SSE and Weir Group. He told The Scotsman that he was “quite relaxed” about meeting the bank’s goal of investing £3bn by the end of the current parliament.

He said: “We have to show we’re making sensible investments, so we’ll take our time. We do have the ability to carry forward £1bn of the £3bn beyond April 2015.”

Kingsbury stressed that the bank would only invest in proven technologies and business models, so would not be looking at the types of scheme that may appeal to venture capitalists.

He added: “We’re going to watch the wave and tidal business very closely. There’s a lot of money going into that type of early-stage technology, so when those projects are ready for long-term installations, that’s when we’ll come in.”

But Maf Smith, deputy chief executive of trade body RenewableUK, called on the bank to support marine energy, adding: “More than 12,000 people are expected to be employed in wave and tidal energy by the dawn of the next decade.”

The GIB currently employs 35 people, of whom 30 are in London. It has taken up temporary space at Edinburgh council’s headquarters and plans to move into a permanent base by June.

A Scottish Parliament committee recently expressed confidence that Scotland can meet its target of generating all its electricity demands from renewable sources by 2020, but only if it can address planning constraints, skills shortages and access to finance.

Smith said: “These are ambitious targets, and we’ll be doing our best with our £3bn and encouraging other people to come in. There’s a lot of long-term money out there that I think would like to be deployed in this area.”