The UK’s first “green” bank will be officially declared open for business today. The Green Investment Bank (GIB) is funded with £3bn of Government money to be used helping develop the green economy. It will be formally launched by Business Secretary, Vince Cable, in Edinburgh.
Mr Cable argues that the Bank – a key coalition pledge – “will place the green economy at the heart of our recovery and position the UK in the forefront of the drive to develop clean energy. Three billion pounds of Government money will leverage private sector capital to fund projects in priority sectors from offshore wind to waste and non-domestic energy efficiency, helping to deliver our commitment to create jobs and growth right across the UK.
“Having the headquarters in Edinburgh is a powerful vote of confidence in the Union, and a testimony to our commitment to helping Scotland lead the green revolution.”
The first project to benefit from the new fund will be in the north east of England. Around £8m will be spent on the construction of an anaerobic digestion plant at Teesside which will generate energy from waste; it will be the first of six planned over the next five years and the Government says its investment will be matched with a further £8m from the private sector.
The Scottish energy minister, Fergus Ewing, described the Bank as presenting “huge opportunities” for green energy projects in Scotland. Dan Barlow from the environmental group WWF Scotland added that it represented an exciting step towards a low carbon economy.
However, the launch comes on the day when the Government admitted that green power could add £100 a year to electricity bills by 2020. It’s thought that some £110bn will be needed to renew the country’s power generation infrastructure; much of that will go into low-carbon power sources such as wind farms.
Officials point out that, although consumers will pay more towards green energy, they will also save through increased energy efficiency at home.
The strategies adopted by both the UK and, in particular, Scottish Governments have also been questioned by the Scientific Alliance in Scotland. In a report this morning, it described the Scottish Parliament’s recent report on the achievability of the Holyrood government’s renewable energy target as a “damp squib”.
Its Chairman Professor Tony Trewavas explained that “Instead of listening to the scientists and engineers with real experience of electricity generation, the Committee chose to accept the evidence of unqualified political activists. We welcome the Committee’s recognition of the need for more students to study engineering, science and mathematics, but this makes it even more surprising that it did not take heed of the scientific advice offered.”
Professor Trewavas added: “The clear impression is of a committee which deliberately turns a blind eye to the failings of government policy. This unfortunately reinforces the concern recently expressed by other MSPs that the Scottish Parliament is not governing the country for the benefit of all its people but solely in support of the narrow view of a minority about independence. But the reality of Emperor Salmond’s new clothes will be obvious to all before long.”