Ian Marchant attacks shake-up of renewables sector

Former SSE chief Ian Marchant has criticised regulatory changes for denting investor and business confidence in renewable energy.

Ian Marchant says regulatory changes have dented investor confidence in renewables. Picture: Andrew Wilson

Marchant was speaking as Infinis Energy, the green power company that he chairs, reported a 3 per cent fall in underlying profits to £56.5 million for the six months to the end of September.

“The regulatory changes that have been announced this year have created uncertainty in the renewable energy sector at a time when companies, like ourselves, should be investing more in future capacity that will help deliver the clean and affordable energy needs of the UK,” he said.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“The changes have served only to reduce investor confidence and business confidence in delivering energy infrastructure projects in the UK renewable sector.”

One such change was the removal of the exemption from the climate change levy for electricity sourced from renewable generators, which was announced in Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget on 8 July and took effect at the start of August.

Marchant said the move came as a “complete surprise” to the industry, adding: “The removal of this exemption will have a detrimental impact on our results over the coming years.”

Last month private equity firm Terra Firma said it was taking Infinis private less than two years after floating the business, which has offices in Edinburgh and Northampton, on London’s main market.

The investor’s Monterey arm already owns 68.5 per cent of Infinis and last year said it was considering selling its stake. However, Terra Firma chief executive Guy Hands said the regulatory shake-up had prompted the firm to “rethink our strategy” for the company.

Marchant said today: “The independent directors of Infinis recommended this proposed acquisition having taken due consideration of alternative offers and the associated risks attached to them.

“We believe that the Monterey offer provides the best outcome for both the company and all shareholders given the softness in commodity markets and the high degree of regulatory uncertainty.”