The Latest Sustainable Energy News from Low Carbon

Low Carbon appoints new Chief Financial Officer

Low Carbon, the renewable energy investment company, is expanding its senior management team with the appointment of Juan Martin Alfonso as Chief Financial Officer. The move is part of Low Carbon’s strategy to build one of the strongest management teams in the energy investment industry, in order to effectively pursue its long term goal of making a significant and positive impact on the causes of climate change.

Alfonso joins from the AES Corporation, a Fortune 500 global power company with 35 GW of generating capacity and $16 billion in annual revenues, where he spent 12 years in a variety of senior finance roles around the world, including CFO of Europe and the Middle East and EMEA Finance Managing Director.

His expertise includes financial management, accounting, planning, treasury, and risk management, built on operations, financing and complex transactions.

Alfonso brings a wealth of knowledge relating to deal structuring and project management of energy generation portfolios. His expertise will help Low Carbon to continue making sound investments in renewable energy projects.

Alfonso says: “I was attracted to Low Carbon because it combines a profitable and sustainable business model with a determination to improve the environment. It is a great opportunity for me to use my experience to maximise the efficiency and opportunities that renewable energy projects can unlock not only for investors, but for the environment and society as a whole.”

Roy Bedlow, CEO of Low Carbon says that: “In order to effectively invest in the best renewable energy projects, in the most efficient way, we need the best people. Juan’s impressive background will be greatly beneficial  to our short and long term investment and asset development goals in our pursuit of positive climate change.”

Low Carbon is a privately-owned UK investment company which invests in, owns and operates renewable energy projects – including solar, wind, hydro and anaerobic digestion – taking projects from early stage investment to full scale operation. It is committed to making a positive and significant impact on the causes of climate change.

Low Carbon begins construction of 8MW East Sussex Solar Park

In the latest expansion of its renewables portfolio, Low Carbon, the renewable energy investment company, has announced the completion of a deal to build a new solar park at Berwick in East Sussex, in collaboration with Macquarie Capital.

The solar park, which will consist of fixed ground-mounted solar PV panels, will have an output capacity of 8.2MW, with annual production being 8,705MWh – enough to power more than 2,300 homes. The clean energy generated will save approximately 3,514 tonnes of carbon equivalent per annum.

Construction of the park begins this month, and is expected to begin exporting electricity into the national grid in early 2015.

Macquarie Capital is providing construction funding to the project.

Low Carbon is investing in an international portfolio of renewable energy assets including utility-scale solar PV, onshore wind, concentrated solar power (CSP) and anaerobic digestion that will amount to a combined output of more than 2.3GW clean energy. To date, Low Carbon has funded more than 206MW of UK solar assets both in construction and operation, which represents approximately 12% of the UK solar market.

John Cole, Chief Investment Officer of Low Carbon, says: “Renewable energy technologies have demonstrated substantial performance improvements and cost reductions and are now being deployed at significant scale. Companies such as Low Carbon will continue to fight to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels and increase the scale of renewable energy to support a low carbon future. Now is the right time for investors to get behind renewable energy and address two of the biggest challenges facing the UK: energy security and climate change.”

“The International Energy Agency calculates that investment of $53 trillion is needed in energy infrastructure by 2035 to stand a chance of limiting climate change to the critical 2oC. There is an economic and environmental imperative to make significant private investment in renewable energy. That is what we are doing.”

Mark Dooley, Head of Development Capital at Macquarie, says: “Macquarie is delighted to be able to continue to support the Low Carbon team through provision of construction funding for their UK solar projects. Macquarie’s collaboration with Low Carbon demonstrates our commitment to supporting clients in the renewable energy sector.”

 

-ENDS-

About Low Carbon

Low Carbon is a privately owned investment company, committed to the development and operation of renewable energy power production.  Low Carbon invests into both renewable energy developers and projects across a range of renewable energy technologies including solar, wind, anaerobic digestion and concentrated solar power.  Low Carbon has a strong management team with a proven track record in development, construction, financing and management of UK solar assets, with over 200MW funded and in construction and operation today.  Low Carbon remains involved in the projects for the long term.  Low Carbon has a dedicated asset management team that currently manages assets on balance sheet and for third parties (unlisted and listed).

About Macquarie Group

Macquarie Group (Macquarie) is a leading provider of banking, financing, advisory, investment and fund management services. The Group has offices in all major financial centres. Founded in 1969, Macquarie employs more than 13,900 people in 28 countries. At 30 September 2013, Macquarie had assets under management of £222 billion.​

 

 

Low Carbon nominated for Solar Power Portal Award

Low Carbon’s Lackford Estate Solar Park has been nominated for a Solar Power Portal Award.

Solar Power Portal is the UK’s leading solar news site. Its awards focus on all areas of the solar industry, celebrating good practice, professionalism, quality, safety and innovation within the sector. They honour 12 companies or projects in total.

Low Carbon have been shortlisted for the ‘>10MW solar park’ category. This category rewards utility-scale ground mounted solar farms for commercial viability, yield, ROI and commitment to sustainable development.

The Lackford Estate Solar Park is a utility-scale, ground-mounted solar PV development with a total installed generation capacity of 20.930 MWp and an annual production of 20,168 MWh – enough to power over 6,000 homes per annum (based on Ofgem estimates). It is situated on 3,000 acres of low-lying arable farmland in Suffolk.

During the construction phase, work took place to avoid impacts on ground nesting birds and reptiles and special precautions were implemented to ensure the protection of the local flora and fauna.

Low Carbon has enabled the investment of more than £200 million in capital to build renewable energy capacity efficiently and cost-effectively. It has funded and built and/or operates over 200MW of solar PV assets; enough to power more than 55,000 three-bedroom homes annually.

Roy Bedlow, CEO of Low Carbon, says “The nomination is a great indicator of the growth and success of Low Carbon, and supports us on our trajectory to become a major investor in renewable energy, committed to a low carbon future.”

The winners will be announced on the 14th October at a gala event in Birmingham, hosted by TV presenter Kate Humble.

 

Low Carbon begins construction of 10MW Dorset Solar Park

In the latest expansion of its renewables portfolio, Low Carbon, the renewable energy investment company, has announced the completion of a deal to build a new solar park at Bottom Plain in Dorset, in collaboration with Macquarie Capital.

The solar park, which will consist of fixed ground-mounted solar PV panels, will have an output capacity of 10.1MW, with annual production being 9,732MWh – enough to power nearly 3,000 homes. The clean energy generated will save approximately 4,336 tonnes of carbon equivalent per annum.

Construction of the park began this month, and is expected to begin exporting electricity into the national grid in autumn 2014.

Macquarie Capital is providing construction funding to the project.

Low Carbon is investing in an international portfolio of renewable energy assets including utility-scale solar PV, onshore wind, concentrated solar power (CSP) and anaerobic digestion that will amount to a combined output of more than 2.3GW clean energy. To date, Low Carbon has funded more than 206MW of UK solar assets both in construction and operation, which represents approximately 12% of the UK solar market.

John Cole, Chief Investment Officer of Low Carbon, says: “Renewable energy technologies have demonstrated substantial performance improvements and cost reductions and are now being deployed at significant scale. Companies such as Low Carbon will continue to fight to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels and increase the scale of renewable energy to support a low carbon future. Now is the right time for investors to get behind renewable energy and address two of the biggest challenges facing the UK: energy security and climate change.”

“The International Energy Agency calculates that investment of $53 trillion is needed in energy infrastructure by 2035 to stand a chance of limiting climate change to the critical 2°C. There is an economic and environmental imperative to make significant private investment in renewable energy. That is what we are doing.”

Mark Dooley, Head of Development Capital at Macquarie, says: “Macquarie is delighted to be able to continue to support the Low Carbon team through provision of construction funding for their UK solar projects. Macquarie’s collaboration with Low Carbon demonstrates our commitment to supporting clients in the renewable energy sector.”

 

-ENDS-

About Low Carbon

Low Carbon is a privately owned investment company, committed to the development and operation of renewable energy power production. Low Carbon invests into both renewable energy developers and projects across a range of renewable energy technologies including solar, wind, anaerobic digestion and concentrated solar power. Low Carbon has a strong management team with a proven track record in development, construction, financing and management of UK solar assets, with over 200MW funded and in construction and operation today. Low Carbon remains involved in the projects for the long term. Low Carbon has a dedicated asset management team that currently manages assets on balance sheet and for third parties (unlisted and listed).

About Macquarie Group

Macquarie Group (Macquarie) is a leading provider of banking, financing, advisory, investment and fund management services. The Group has offices in all major financial centres. Founded in 1969, Macquarie employs more than 13,900 people in 28 countries. At 30 September 2013, Macquarie had assets under management of £222 billion.

 

Restricting the low carbon economy

Increased investment in renewables is not an optional extra for the UK. Once the UK’s Government established the world’s first legally binding climate change target with the 2008 Climate Change Act, it pledged to reduce greenhouse emissions by a huge 80 per cent by 2050. To achieve this, the Government set up the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), with the objective of creating a more energy efficient economy supported by low-carbon initiatives. Today, however, that objective seems to have been drastically hobbled, as DECC has changed its stance on supporting large scale solar installations, one of the UK’s most productive and cost effective ways of generating green energy.

The Government has declared its intention to close the Renewables Obligation (RO) subsidies scheme to solar farms above 5MW in capacity from spring of next year. While DECC estimates that this will save approximately £100m a year from its Levy Control Framework (LCF) clean energy subsidy budget from 2017, the negative impact of the announcement could prove costly to the UK, as investor confidence in green energies is dented. The Government’s hesitancy to provide full and vocal support to large scale solar initiatives has placed a question mark over the future support of all types of renewable energy, as governmental policies appear to be driven by political expediency, rather than a strategic approach to creating a low-carbon economy in the UK. As a concrete example of this, Ernst and Young’s Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index now rates the UK behind the US, China, Germany, Japan and Canada, due to the Government’s lack of commitment to green energies such as solar.

Investors in renewable energies understandably look to the Government for guidance and indications of future growth. Unfortunately, DECC’s proposal demonstrates a notable lack of consistency in policy definition in this area, with a successful scheme being cut off two years before its initial planned review. For the development of a low carbon economy to flourish, there must be greater consistency in energy policy definition to enable firms to secure continued investment. As it stands, the UK has begun to establish itself in the European solar PV energy market, catching up on rivals such as Germany, Italy and Spain. Although it is undeniable that the UK has less sunshine than other countries on the continent, by May 2013 the UK had been able to build its solar output to a six per cent share of deployed capacity across Europe. Having successfully positioned the UK as a key player in the renewables space, do we really want our share in the European market to now dip?

Looking more broadly at the full range of renewable energies being deployed by the UK, the last quarter of 2013 saw renewables’ share of electricity generation increased to a new record of 17.6 per cent from the 12.6 per cent share in the fourth quarter of 2012. Due to high wind speeds and increased capacity, onshore wind generation rose by 63 per cent and offshore wind by 42 per cent. Overall renewable generation was up 33 per cent compared to the same quarter in 2012, showing the growth potential of this energy source. [1]

As the UK has increased its output in renewables, this has also permitted a reduction in our dependence on fossil fuels, a highly strategic result given recent events in the Ukraine. The issue of energy independence is a hot topic in Europe at the moment, and has been discussed at length by the G7 and European Commission, with a recent report calling for all member states to choose a path towards a low carbon and competitive economy. The EU is also set to commission a report supporting the UK’s ambitious energy and climate change package for Europe – a 40% reduction in emissions by 2030. Furthermore, recent statements by Edward Davey at the G7 energy summit highlight how the UK’s strong track record of achievement on clean energy investment, can and should aid in securing our energy supply and setting a roadmap for the future.

By trying to save funds through the reduction of solar power subsidies however, DECC risks rebuilding our dependence on fuel from Russia and the Middle-East. This approach could come at a high cost, as the Government could find it difficult to control price fluctuations on energy produced outside of its borders.

At a time that both Europe and the US are focusing on ramping up their production of renewable energy (for example, the Obama administration has asked the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to introduce sweeping new environmental rules that will cut carbon pollution by 30% of 2005 levels, by 2030), it seems perverse for the UK to be taking a step backward. In her recent speech, the Queen called for a global agreement on climate change- the UK can be a champion of securing legally binding rules and targets across 190 countries via a UN framework. The speech also highlighted how the UK is delivering on carbon emissions, increasing energy security and generating jobs and growth in line with EU competitors. It is clear that the UK is taking up an important role in the world’s renewable energy market, with the support and funding of the Government.

Large scale solar installations have proved one of the most successful renewable technologies to be implemented in the country, and have enabled more than 600,000 homes in the UK to be powered by a green and efficient energy source.[2] If the UK Government continues to be hesitant in its support for solar energy, it risks erecting an insurmountable obstacle to its own goal of creating a true low carbon economy. What we need is a policy of strong and consistent Government support that will encourage investment and drive growth in the renewables sector.

 

[1] Energy Trends Section, GOV.uk https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/295356/6_Renewables.pdf

[2] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-14/england-s-clouds-part-for-solar-as-panels-carpet-fields.html