A PIONEERING energy plant on Teesside yesterday became the first in Britain to be handed funding from the Government’s new green energy bank.
Earthly Energy’s plant at Forty Foot Road, Middlesbrough, has been handed £8m by the bank, which was officially declared “open for business” by Business Secretary Vince Cable.
The Green Investment Bank (GIB), funded with £3bn of Government money, was described as an essential part of wider plans, including the coalition’s Energy Bill.
The Teesside plant is the first of six planned by the company across the country after it secured five more sites in the United Kingdom, including Lancashire, South Wales, Devon and Kent.
It is part of a £100m investment plan, in what will be a leading anaerobic digestion platform in the UK.
The £8m secured from the GIB will be matched with a further £8m from the private sector, according to the Government.
Green bank chief executive Shaun Kingsbury told an audience of industry figures his aims for the new institution at the formal launch in Edinburgh, where it is headquartered. Several North East locations had been in the running to host the facility.
“The financial markets are in turmoil. They’re finding it’s difficult to provide capital, but more importantly they’re finding it difficult to provide the right type of capital,” he said.
“I’d like to stress that the Green Investment Bank is a for-profits bank. To take one message away from today, it is that one. As a custodian of the taxpayers’ money, we understand the responsibilities to the public and the Government.”
He was joined at the launch by Cable, Energy Secretary Edward Davey and bank chairman Lord Smith of Kelvin.
Davey told the audience at Heriot-Watt University Conference Centre that green energy is a key part of the UK economy.
The Energy Bill will lay the groundwork, but the bank is necessary to attract money, he said. “Our reforms will give investors the certainty they need to proceed with these new, clean energy projects,” Davey said. “I think these investments will result in jobs in every part of the UK.
“There is strong evidence that even with all the right policies in place, there is going to remain significant challenges in the financing of green infrastructure.
“The challenge for the Green Investment Bank is to use its capital, use its expertise, use its credibility, to encourage investors into the market while demonstrating that there are attractive financial returns to be achieved.”
Welcoming the Teesside investment, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate George Selmer said: “This Government has pledged to be the greenest ever. That’s good news for the environment but also for jobs.
“Middlesborough, and Teesside in general, has the potential to lead the way in a green economy with technologies like anaerobic digestion and carbon capture providing the sustainable, skilled jobs of tomorrow.
“The GIB is a key part of the effort to stimulate green growth, and today’s investment in our town is further proof of the confidence the Government has in Middlesbrough to spearhead recovery in the North East.
“By ensuring GIB funds are matched by industry, we can create and safeguard local jobs without falling back into the trap of over-reliance on the state.”