Belfast Telegraph

Cautious welcome for promised green energy incentives

By Clare Weir

The green energy sector in Northern Ireland has given a cautious welcome to Budget plans to incentivise renewables.

Yesterday George Osborne promised that the new Green Investment Bank is to be created, with an additional £2bn, and will start operation in 2012.

A climate change levy discount on electricity available for those signing up to climate change agreements will rise from 65% to 80% from April 2013.

The UK is also set to become the first country in the world to introduce a carbon price floor for the power sector.

Belfast-based firm Simple Power has pledged to invest over £50m in wind energy here over the next five years, producing more than 50 MW of wind energy annually by 2015.

The company leases land for 25 years on which it plans, installs and maintains wind turbines.

Paul Carson, who set up the company, said that the green economy is moving fast and that funding must be readily available if the bank is to compete with private equity firms.

"The Green Investment Bank has been discussed for some time now and so the detail on the potential of £3bn of funding for the industry is very welcome," he said.

"However, the mechanisms for dealing with funding applications must be set up to allow fast responses to proposals.

"The green economy is moving very fast and there are lots of current opportunities, so funding must be readily available in order to take advantage.

"Numerous private equity funds have been launched recently to invest in the green economy - they are commercial organisations who do react quickly to opportunities - it might be that they bring more success than the Green Investment Bank.

"The one major issue causing concern amongst investors and financiers in the sector is the Government's review of the incentives measures and how they are delivered.

"The green economy has so much potential, but this can only be underpinned by the Government giving confidence that the incentives will remain at the current levels for some considerable time."