Green bank should not overlook small schemes, says Co-op

AROUND 6,500 jobs could be created through the development of small-scale renewable energy projects if they are given appropriate backing by the Green Investment Bank (GIB), according to a new report.

The report by the Co-operative Group and accountancy firm Grant Thornton, argues that around £200m from the GIB’s initial budget of £3bn should be brought forwards and allocated to small-scale renewable schemes generation between 250kw and 5mw of energy.

It argues that the smaller schemes generate relatively higher levels of job creation and help to deliver more growth.

It said that by earmarking £200m for such schemes, it could lever in £908m worth of private investment for renewable energy schemes and generate £273.m of annual economic activity, which would create an extra £56m of tax each year.

The report also said that larger projects such as nuclear power stations and offshore turbines also require more specialist skills that often need to be imported with construction work largely going to international firms, as opposed to smaller hydro, wind wave and solar schemes that are undertaken by local and regional firms.

Neville Richardson, chief executive of Co-operative Financial Services, said: “We’re concerned that an opportunity to create jobs and boost economies at a local level will be missed if GIB focuses solely on financing large-scale projects such as offshore wind and nuclear.

“We acknowledge the role of the large-scale projects, but these will take time. 

“There are a significant number of currently available projects that can generate returns for the tax payer even before these larger schemes begin. We need to get on with the delivery and not wait any longer.”