UK: Clean-tech entrepreneur Gerry McGowan, who heads the growing international developer of renewable energy projects ‘CBD Energy’, has expressed his concern for the future of clean technologies in the UK over what he referred to as “the country’s declining investment in, and commitment to, developing clean energy generating infrastructure.”
Executive chairman and MD, McGowan said: “I read with disappointment the most recent media reports, that the latest Energy Bill has failed to set any clear targets on carbon reduction in the energy supply. With UK investment in renewable energy at its lowest point in seven years, I’m deeply concerned at the lack of foresight and planning for future energy resources.”
McGowan, the man who earlier in his career developed Australia’s first low-cost airline carrier ‘Impulse’ (now rebranded Jetstar), says renewable energy:
• Can deliver energy security by utilising the natural resources of wind and solar, and avoid the costs associated with the import of fossil fuels, and their environmental impacts.
• Provides a hedge against carbon pricing in the medium to long term.
• Costs one fifth of the cost of nuclear plant to construct.
• Is virtually free once the infrastructure is in place, and is far more reliable in terms of pricing.
“The utilisation of renewable resources is plain common sense,” said McGowan.
He highlights the Australian Federal Government's Climate Commission report, released only this week, which states that most of the country’s coal reserves will have to remain in the ground if the world is to avoid catastrophic global warming. The report marks the first time a government agency has endorsed calls for fossil fuel industries to be phased out because of their contribution to climate change.
“With 300 years of coal reserves as well as an abundance of gas, the Australian people and their government have passed laws that require the electricity industry to deliver a minimum of 20% of their generation by 2020 from renewable sources. This target is real and supported by both sides of politics. The UK has no such reserves and is reliant on foreign nations - who don't always share its ideals - for energy fuels. No clear targets have been set for decarbonisation of the electricity supply and the financial and environmental costs continue to rise for UK consumers as development is ploughed instead into nuclear and shale gas projects.
‘The UK seems focused on developing other forms of generation which will need to be highly subsidised, and will be financially costly to develop. What is more, they do not pay to clean up their real waste which has a greater, long-term cost in terms of impacts on health and the environment.
“Surely now is the time for the UK to modernise its electricity generation to 21st century technologies. Value your own, clean, natural wind and solar resources – and derive value from them in turn. As the economies of India, China and many other economies industrialise they will increase the use of fossil fuels dramatically. It is incumbent on the western economies to develop smarter, low carbon technologies for its energy needs to counter these increases.”
CBD Energy, which has a successful track record in developing renewable energy projects across the globe, recently launched a green energy retail bond, which is designed to raise the capital to develop utility-scale solar and wind projects in the UK.
EnergyBonds are a fixed income investment, offering investors both a financial and social return; they pay interest quarterly in cash, at a fixed rate of 7.5 percent per annum, and enable direct investment in the development of renewable energy infrastructure, which will supply UK homes and businesses with cleaner, cheaper power and help consumers hedge against rising fuel costs.
“Individual investors can support the development of renewable energy in the UK - and can generate a financial and social return from this ethical investment,” says McGowan. “Facing a distinct lack of public funding or support, the UK can promote private investment in renewable energy that will deliver economic and social benefits.”