The Latest Sustainable Energy News from Low Carbon

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.”

 

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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

Low Carbon invests in Nur Energie to propel the global adoption of utility scale clean energy

Nur Energie’s flagship solar project in Tunisia could provide clean reliable power to 2.5 Million UK homes by 2018

London, 11th June 2014 – Low Carbon, the renewable energy investment company, today announces it has increased its stake in Nur Energie, a multi-technology solar power plant developer in the Mediterranean. Both companies share the same objective of reducing dependence on fossil fuels by leveraging new technologies in renewables, which has encouraged Low Carbon to invest in the Nur Energie, now making it one of the company’s largest shareholders.

Low Carbon invests in renewable energy companies and projects embracing innovations such as solar photovoltaic, concentrated solar power, wind and anaerobic digestion technologies. So far, through its investments, the company has funded, is building and/or operating sustainable initiatives with a renewable energy capacity of more than 350MW.

As global demand for renewable energy grows, it is becoming increasingly important that renewable energy projects are built to a scale that has a significant effect on the decarbonisation of electricity grids. It is also important that these projects support national energy providers and enable them to provide customers with reliable power at the lowest possible cost. Nur Energie’s focus is to develop utility scale solar power plants, primarily in the Mediterranean region, that can provide low carbon power for both national and international grids. The company’s flagship project, TuNur, is a 2GW solar project in the Tunisian Sahara that will be connected to the European grid via a dedicated cable. Once the power is landed in Europe it will provide clean power to 2.5 Million UK and European homes. Low Carbon sees this as a potential game changer that will position Nur as a key player in the UK and European energy markets.

Roy Bedlow, chief executive officer at Low Carbon said: “We founded Low Carbon with the intention of making a significant impact on the causes of climate change – reducing the overwhelming reliance on fossil fuels. By engaging with Nur Energie, we can both increase our global reach to encompass crucial developments in the Mediterranean region while supporting a tried and tested technology that will generate utility scale renewable energy to be deployed in the UK and Europe”.

Kevin Sara, chief executive officer of Nur Energie commented: “Since day one Nur Energie has been focused on utility scale climate change mitigation by opening new energy corridors. This latest investment by Low Carbon will help drive this strategy and together we will be a strong force in helping to decarbonise Europe  at an affordable price”.

 

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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.  The company has a strong management team with a proven track record in the development, construction, financing and management of more than 350MW of UK renewable energy assets.  Low Carbon also has a dedicated asset management team that currently manages assets on balance sheet and for third parties (unlisted and listed).

About Nur Energie

Nur Energie is an independent solar power plant developer focused on significant climate change mitigation by opening new energy corridors. Nur is developing utility scale concentrated solar power (“CSP”) and photovoltaic (“PV”) projects in Southern Europe and North Africa that are capable of producing low carbon, base load power at competitive prices, all whilst generating significant socio economic benefits within the regions it develops in. Nur currently has over 2,200MW of under development in Greece, Morocco, Tunisia and France.

EDF Energy partners with Low Carbon to accelerate growing pipeline of renewable energy projects

How EDF Energy’s Power Purchase Agreement meets three key criteria for the fast growing renewable energy investor

Low Carbon invests in new renewable energy projects, including utility-scale solar farms, in the UK. To date it has enabled the deployment of approximately £200 million to renewable energy investments to further the development of more than 200MW of renewable capacity. Low Carbon’s portfolio of renewable energy projects is growing rapidly. In 2013 Low Carbon began collaborating with Macquarie Capital to deliver a portfolio of up to 300MW of solar parks in the UK. Under the collaboration agreement, Macquarie will provide the funding required to construct a portfolio of solar projects in the UK that could power up to 100,000 homes per year. This growth led Low Carbon to review the Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) through which they sold their electricity output and renewable energy certificates. For a renewable developer, a PPA is the tool that makes everything else possible as it secures the revenue streams that pay for the development of a site into a generation asset. During the first quarter of 2014, Low Carbon commissioned five solar park developments backed by a PPA signed with EDF Energy at the end of 2013. Low Carbon selected EDF Energy as their offtaker because the electricity company was able to provide a PPA that meets three key criteria for the fast growing renewable energy investor.

1. Competitive pricing. EDF Energy’s PPA provides Low Carbon with competitive and clear pricing that separates the different components and allows the energy price achieved to be benchmarked against public third party sources. This gives Low Carbon the security that the price it achieves for its power output is fair and market reflective

2. Accelerate new developments. The PPA contract is structured to enable Low Carbon to add new developments in a highly repeatable manner. This arrangement reduces Low Carbon’s lead times and project risk as it brings new developments to the point it can commission construction. Developing new renewable energy projects is a lengthy complicated process involving land owners, planning authorities, electricity network operators, funders and technical assessments. Typically all contracts – for land tenancy, grid connection and funding – need to be in place on the same day or the project risks unravelling before construction is due to start. Having a good PPA and sound offtaker in place ticks off a key feasibility phase task for Low Carbon. Confidence that EDF Energy can mobilise the PPA quickly on the day of completion allows time for all the other contracts to be signed within a day as those parties can see the means to future revenues are in place. This reduces a principal risk at the point of financial closure of the project.

3. Stability. The structure of the PPA – with competitive, clear pricing and a single purchaser of all products – backed by a large, stable, creditworthy PPA provider in EDF Energy, enables Low Carbon to continue catalysing investment in new renewable projects.

Low Carbon now has five of its newest developments with a capacity of 60MW active on its PPA structure with EDF Energy.

Notes To Editors

ABOUT LOW CARBON LIMITED

Low Carbon is a privately-owned UK investment company specialising in renewable energy. By investing in, owning and operating renewable energy projects, we are committed to making a positive and significant impact on the causes of climate change. Managing assets on balance sheet for listed and unlisted third parties, we facilitate investment in solar photovoltaic (PV), concentrated solar power, wind and anaerobic digestion technologies. Our dedicated team has an excellent track record in solar assets, over 200MW of which we have funded and built and/or operated – a total we expect to increase as needs for renewable energy grow and opportunities for our investor partners gather pace. In the first quarter of 2014, Low Carbon commissioned five new solar parks with a maximum generating capacity of 60MW – sufficient renewable energy to power approximately 17,500 3-bedroom homes per annum (based on Ofgem estimates). The five sites with EDF Energy as the PPA provider are located in Pembrokeshire, Cornwall, Wiltshire and Suffolk.

EDF Energy
EDF Energy is one of the UK’s largest energy companies and the largest producer of low-carbon electricity, producing around one-fifth of the nation’s electricity from its nuclear power stations, wind farms, coal and gas power stations and combined heat and power plants. The company supplies gas and electricity to 5.8 million business and residential customer accounts and is the biggest supplier of electricity by volume in Great Britain. EDF Energy’s safe and secure operation of its eight existing nuclear power stations at sites across the country makes it the UK’s largest generator of low carbon electricity. EDF Energy is also leading the UK’s nuclear renaissance and has published plans to build four new nuclear plants, subject to the right investment framework. These new plants could generate enough low carbon electricity for about 40% of Britain’s homes. They would make an important contribution to the UK’s future needs for clean, secure and affordable energy. The project is already creating business and job opportunities for British companies and workers.

Through Our Sustainability Commitments, EDF Energy has developed one of the biggest environmental and social programmes of any British energy company. In 2013 EDF Energy received seven “Big Ticks” in the Business in the Community (BITC) Responsible Business Awards, including a Platinum Big Tick in BITC’s Corporate Responsibility Index. EDF Energy also received the Environmental Leadership for Behavioural Change Award in the national 2013 Environment and Energy Awards and was highly commended in the first ever pan European Corporate Social Responsibility Awards scheme for its Sustainable Schools programme – the Pod.

EDF was an official partner and the official electricity supplier to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The company supplied electricity to the Olympic Park which was backed by low-carbon sources: 80% from nuclear and 20% from renewable generation.

EDF Energy is part of EDF Group, one of Europe’s largest power companies. The company employs around 15,000 people at locations across the UK.

Low Carbon commissions 73MW across seven new solar parks

 London, 2 April 2014 – Low Carbon, an investor, owner and operator of UK solar parks, has today announced the commissioning of the Lackford Estate Solar Park, a 20.9MW solar park in Suffolk as part of a total of seven new UK solar parks commissioned in 2014. The solar parks, which in total will generate approximately 73MW of power – enough to power more than 21,000 homes or a town the size of Torquay for a year* – are located in Cornwall, Devon, Wiltshire and Pembrokeshire.

The solar parks unveiled today include the first investments to be announced under the collaboration agreement Low Carbon has in place with Macquarie Capital which, over the next two years, will see the Company look to build and commission a total of up to 300MW of solar parks in the UK.

Commenting on the news, Low Carbon chief investment officer John Cole said: “The commissioning of seven new solar parks so early in the year demonstrates the momentum we have achieved at Low Carbon. Including these seven new solar parks, we have now funded more than 200MW of utility scale solar PV projects in the UK and increased our total to 114MW of solar parks that we currently manage. Through the outstanding work of our dedicated investment and asset management teams we are continuing to enhance our reputation for delivering high quality projects on time and on budget.”

He continued: “By unveiling today the commissioning of seven new solar parks in the first quarter of the year, we are showing our commitment to the UK solar industry. The UK’s energy needs are such that the grid of the twenty first century must embrace a range of solutions, with renewable energy taking a larger share. Solar is a credible, proven technology with a stable generation profile. We remain long term investors in the UK renewable energy market and are delighted to be partnering with leading banks including Macquarie to scale up our portfolio of assets to take advantage of this improving backdrop.”

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About Low Carbon 

Low Carbon is a privately-owned UK investment company. By investing in, owning and operating renewable energy projects, we are committed to making a positive and significant impact on the causes of climate change. Managing assets on balance sheet for listed and unlisted third parties, we facilitate investment in solar photovoltaic (PV), concentrated solar power, wind and anaerobic digestion technologies. Our dedicated team has an excellent track record in solar assets, over 200MW of which we have funded and built and/or operated – a total we expect to increase along with demand for renewable energy and its opportunities for our investor partners.