A ‘Green Bond’ which would allow savers to generate returns from the growth of the UK’s renewable energy sector should be launched by the next UK Government, the head of the sector’s trade body in Scotland has said.
The plan was outlined today (Tuesday, November 4) at the launch of Scottish Renewables’ blueprint for the next UK Government ahead of the 2015 General Election.
Niall Stuart, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “The UK needs to invest tens of billions of pounds in the energy sector over coming years – firstly just to keep the lights on, and secondly to continue the move away from fossil fuels to cleaner sources of energy.
“New power generation, transmission lines and renewable heat projects all require big capital investment up front, but could offer savers a decent return on their money over the life of the project, certainly beating the record low interest rates on savings accounts today.
“There are already some specialist investment funds available on the stock market and to big investors, and they show that the model works. But it’s time to give every saver in Britain the opportunity to invest in and to benefit from the continued growth of the green energy sector.
“Creation of a ‘Green Bond’ would make it easy for people to participate, and also reduce the levels of cash that the country would have to seek from overseas funds to invest in our infrastructure. It would also be a great way to widen engagement with this new industry as government seeks to increase levels of community ownership and investment.”
It is proposed that the Edinburgh-based Green Investment Bank would oversee the scheme.
Scottish Renewables’ manifesto, Building Britain’s Renewable Future, also sets out the case for continued government support for the renewable energy sector, and the industry’s priorities during the next UK Parliament:
- Commitment to a continued focus on reducing climate change emissions from the energy sector
- Greater focus on renewable heat and renewable transport
- Greater investment in energy storage
- Grid connections for Scotland’s islands
- A triennial energy summit between the UK and its devolved administrations.
Scottish Renewables also calls for further debate on the merits of moving subsidies for renewables and nuclear energy away from consumers’ bills and into general public spending.
Mr Stuart continued: “Despite our energy prices being among the lowest in Europe, Scotland and the UK face a real challenge with fuel poverty. Support for renewables is a small part of the average householder’s bill – around 70p a week – but that could be cut to zero if the costs were met from general taxation instead.
“We could then look at funding support for renewables at least in part from existing levies on carbon emissions. In 2014-15 the Climate Change Levy and the Carbon Price Floor are estimated to raise enough money to cover the entire budget for renewables support in Britain.”
Also addressed is the need to recognise the significant contribution onshore wind makes to the UK’s energy mix – currently providing the equivalent of around 7% of our electricity – and to remove barriers to the continued growth of this sector.
Mr Stuart added: “Scotland will generate more than half of its electricity demand from renewables next year thanks to the growth of onshore wind. It is the cheapest renewable technology that can be deployed at scale today, costs are coming down all the time, and it supports thousands of jobs across the country – why would we not want to see further expansion of the sector?”
Press release; Image: haadesign