Monday, 29 November 2021

Investing in a green future

Investing in a green future

THE first question that many people ask about a new green future of emissions-free transport, climate-friendly heating, super-insulated homes and sustainable electricity production is “How much will it all cost?” and, even more importantly, “Who is going to pay for it?”

The answer is a very great deal and investment will come from many sources. The Government’s 10-point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution offers
£12 billion in funding, which it hopes will be matched by three times from the private sector.

Government funding is concentrating on kick-starting the low carbon technologies that will power the future through encouraging innovation via the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (www.gov.uk/government/collections/net-zero-innovation-portfolio).

You may have seen the small, hydrogen-powered, driverless submarine designed to carry freight through shallow waters that recently won funding for development.

More established technologies such as air and ground source heat pumps, electric cars and solar panels are improving in design and becoming cheaper as they become mass market, making their adoption easier and comparable in cost for ordinary householders to their fossil fuel burning equivalents.

Any period involving great innovation offers opportunities for investment and the green revolution is no different. This year, the Treasury is to issue sovereign green gilts and green savings bonds via National Savings and Investments.

The proceeds of these, besides providing a return for investors and savers, will be used to finance only eligible green projects, giving ordinary people the chance to directly finance green innovation.

If you want to invest directly in specific green innovation projects, you can also do so via crowdfunding platforms such as Abundance Investment (www.abundanceinvestment.com).

Abundance offers the opportunity to invest in a variety of energy saving and sustainable energy generation projects, for example, a project to install energy efficient LED lighting at growers Global Berry, enabling their greenhouses to grow UK strawberries all year round.

Abundance offers a useful marketplace as well where shares in existing projects can be bought and sold.

Even closer to home opportunities exist for investing in local green energy projects.

Reading Community Energy installs solar panels paid for by public subscription and has 22 solar panel systems on local rooftops.

Reading Hydro used public subscription to raise the money to install twin-screw Archimedes turbines in the River Thames at Reading, which will generate 320 megawatt hours of energy per year.

Sale of the power generated then provides a return to the investors.

Reading Hydro is a community benefit society and aims to cover costs,m not make large profits.

I tried very hard to get some more shares when they were advertised earlier this year. It’s testament to the number of people keen to invest in the green economy that they were sold out within days and I was disappointed.

In Henley, the town council’s climate emergency working group has a community benefit society of its own, Chiltern Hills Community Energy, which is aiming to raise money by public subscription to put solar panels on local commercial premises.

So, as the old saying goes, “Where there’s muck, there’s brass”.

While the green revolution may not offer a lot of muck, it will offer many opportunities for those keen to invest in some exciting new green technologies.

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