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County Council Leads Investment in Low Carbon Future

Sustainability in Cambridgeshire, UK received a major boost recently with the county council's decision to borrow EUR 18 million to seed a local low carbon investment fund.

It is envisaged that the low carbon investment fund will invest alongside EU funding and the UK's Green Investment Bank, and leverage private sector funding. Funding will be provided for a mixture of short, medium and long term projects of up to 25 years. Once the fund has placed its initial investments, the local authorities can retain the fund to generate income.

low carbon county council

Please right-click on the infographic and select "View Image" for a larger version.

As shown in this infographic, the project team anticipates the need for a dedicated Low Carbon Development Unit to bring forward investment grade projects and administrate finance to accelerate delivery of low carbon energy projects in the region. Project manager Jane Frank noted that setting up an investment fund required new skills in managing finance and the ability to bundle together smaller projects to achieve investment scale.  

The fund was proposed by the project Mobilising Local Energy Investment (MLEI) Cambridge, a consortium of local authorities lead by Cambridgeshire County Council and partly funded by the European sustainable energy initiative Intelligent Energy Europe.

Project manager Jane Frank said: 'The MLEI project will test how the public sector can intervene to enable investment in projects on a greater scale and at a faster pace and for greater local benefit.  To do this we will use Council owned land and buildings, and public sector financial capabilities, to create the conditions that will stimulate further private sector investment.  In other words, we will create more confidence for investors in Cambridgeshire low carbon energy projects.'

Potential projects for the investment fund identified so far include energy performance contracting for schools and other public sector buildings, community buildings retrofit, and even a solar farm.

According to the project director, Sheryl French: "We know there is huge potential too; research completed in 2011 estimates that we could deliver 28% of Cambridgeshire's energy needs from renewables by 2031, compared to 7% at present. MLEI Cambridgeshire is about finding ways to unlock this opportunity, and so bring multiple benefits to our communities and businesses."

Now that there's the prospect of some real money on the table to fund these ambitions, the project team is re-engaging with local stakeholders, to get their input on the proposals and help develop a pipeline of projects.  Click here for details of the event on 21 November.

Follow the project's progress at MLEI Cambridgeshire's blog