UK wind energy sector receives £1.4bn injection

The funding follows on from the government announcement to push through new wind projects

Wind energy projects in the UK can now apply for £1.4bn funding from a combination of the European Investment Bank and commercial sources.

The EIB has made around £700m available with the remainder matched by RBS, Lloyds Banking Group and BNP Paribas Fortis.

The loans will be available to eligible onshore wind projects with a total project cost of between £20m and £100m.

Chancellor Alistair Darling welcomed the investment.

"The money that is being made available will help continue the essential work of building the UK's capacity in renewable energy," he said.

The funding, which was originally proposed in the budget, has been welcomed by trade group the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA).

BWEA chief executive Maria McCaffery said the money would provide a much-needed injection of liquidity into a tough market for attracting investment.

"Wind energy has never been a risky investment. In fact, wind farms in the UK have never defaulted on their loans. However, the recent turbulence in the financial markets has affected availability of loan finance for smaller and medium-sized projects," she said.

The BWEA sites research conducted by New Energy Finance which revealed that although investment in wind energy on balance sheet increased from £212m in 2007 to £920m in 2009, during the same period project finance decreased from £336m to £54m.

But according to BWEA there are planning approvals in the UK for wind projects totaling 756MW in construction and 3056MW with consent.

"There is no reason why the UK's wind energy sector should not be as successful as those of our European neighbours, particularly given our wind resources. The initiative launched today should go a long way towards addressing one side of the delivery problem," said McCaffery.

Earlier this week, Energy and climate change secretary Ed Miliband published national policy statements for wind power that will help hasten the progress of 700MW of wind projects stuck in the planning system.

Miliband told the Commons that not enough progress was being made on approving new wind projects. "Saying no [to these projects] everywhere would not be in the national interest," he said.

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