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Green investment goes retail

Retail banking and investment are offering slim returns – so the regular Joes and Josephines of the high street are putting their cash into renewable energy.

So says renewables investment platform Trillion Fund. Rebecca O’Connor from the Fund does present some compelling evidence of recent gains:

"July saw a flurry: the Renewable Infrastructure Group raised £300 million, Greencoat Wind £260m and Bluefield Solar £130m from public markets. Infinis...is planning a flotation this month which could be valued at up to £1.5 billion. "If this goes ahead as proposed, more than £2 billion of renewable energy will have become available in 2013 to anyone buying shares on the stock market by Christmas. That represents about one fifth of the £10 billion total capital investment in the Power and Gas sector in 2011...a third of the total invested in renewables in the UK in 2012”

We’ve looked at the crowd-funding of smaller green innovations here before – but it’s also suggested that such platforms can be used for bringing figures in the millions from interested people, if the terms are right. It’s a kind of interest that should stem not just from ‘deep green’ tendencies (although they’re a great start) but from people just knowing a good deal when they see it.

This is not to say that small investors are ever going to overtake the big players in renewable energy. The government has just published its new strike prices - essentially another way of saying Feed-in Tariff for large-scale renewable energy – and it is hoping that this results in £40billion worth of new investment on UK shores by the end of the decade.

Or should it be off UK shores? The new pricing structure reduces rates for onshore wind and solar power - shifting focus towards offshore and geothermal. The old classic “keeping the lights on” got another airing in the announcement of the rates, as well as a note of confidence that the new incentives would help the nation meet its 30 per cent renewable target by 2020. Although these are the things that entice your big infrastructure investors,  the new prices will also be under scrutiny from those individuals looking for investment power in numbers.

Where investment in our present and future energy infrastructure is concerned, it isn’t exactly a battle for supremacy between lots of people putting in smaller amounts and a few larger entities pumping in millions. There’s a place for all as nations like our own search for that magical formula to decarbonise, modernise and remain competitive in a changing market.

Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust's expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.

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