Renewables cash to spearhead investment in public sector

Wind turbine projects on public sites like hospitals and council houses will receive a £10m funding boost as part of the Government's efforts to open up the 'largely untapped' public sector to the renewables industry, the environment secretary said on Wednesday.

Defra wants to see 500MW worth of onsite renewables installed on public land through the Carbon Trust “Partnership for Renewables” scheme, which will work with public bodies as well as the private sector to provide funding for the initial stages of project development and management.

Wind energy expansion on this scale would bring Britain’s wind energy generating capacity up by 25%, Defra calculates.

With the £10m cash injection the Government hopes to unleash up to £500m of private sector investment over five years, mostly going towards the installation of 3 – 5MW wind turbines.

The public sector is responsible for 5% of the UK’s carbon emissions, but renewable projects on public land only account for 0.1% of the UK’s current renewables production, according to the Carbon Trust.

Announcing the scheme on Wednesday, environment minister David Milliband said: “500 megawatts of renewable energy is enough to serve the houses of Exeter, Oxford and Norwich and Newcastle combined – that’s the equivalent of 250,000 houses at zero carbon cost to the environment.

“The Carbon Trust has shown how plans for renewable installations, mainly wind power, on the land of local authorities and hospitals can be held back because public and private investment are not working together.

Carbon Trust CEO Tom Delay said that this public-private scheme will be “further proof that there are business solutions to climate change.”

“Our aim is to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy and PfR is an important step towards that goal,” he said.

The British wind industry welcomed the announcement, saying it opens up many opportunities for the onshore wind industry.

Maria McCaffery, chief executive of the British Wind Energy Association, said: “There are many good examples of wind energy already developed on public sector land, at schools, hospitals and council buildings, and Partnerships for Renewables, aided by Defra’s support, will catalyse further development of this exciting new sector.”

Goska Romanowicz

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