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UK Green Investment Bank attracts pension schemes to wind farm fund

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UK pension schemes and a sovereign wealth fund have backed the Green Investment Bank’s first fund, targeting investments in offshore wind projects.

The fund is the first launched by the UK green bank’s new fund management entity, UK Green Investment Bank Financial Services (GIBFS), and was announced last summer with a target raise of £1bn (€1.3bn)

The unnamed institutional investors and other backers provided just over half of the £463m raised ahead of the first close, with GIB itself providing £200m in capital.

Speaking at a GIB event last year, Michael Fallon, at the time a minister in the Department of Energy & Climate Change, seemed to hint that a Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund had committed capital to the venture.

“There is already some co-investment going on with the Saudi Arabian fund,” he told attendees at the event in London.

At the time, a spokeswoman for the GIB said she was not familiar with the fund alluded to by the MP but added that any fund-raising announcements would be made in due course.

The offshore wind warm fund, which has an expected lifespan of 25 years, has taken partial ownership of two assets and was hailed by the GIB as the first of its kind.

Shaun Kingsbury, chief executive of the GIB, said offshore projects would play an important part in providing clean energy to the UK.

“A sector this size needs a broad range of long-term investors, and those investors need products they can confidently, and commercially, invest in – like this fund,” he said.

He added that the additional capital attracted to the market would allow wind farms’ original developers to sell down their stakes and finance new projects with the proceeds.

GIB has transferred a partial stake of one project in North Wales, operational since 2009 and run by RWE Innogy UK, and a second stake in a wind farm located in Norfolk to the new fund. 

The bank has sought to attract third-party capital to funds, as its ability to borrow is directly linked to a reduction in the UK’s national debt.

At the time of the announcement, then-UKSIF chief executive Penny Shepherd called linking its ability to borrow to debt a “missed opportunity”.

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