By far the most impressive speaker – with the most novel ideas – at an NLA seminar on meeting London’s carbon reduction targets, was a banker. Jenny Curtis, a director at Amber Infrastructure, talked about how she could help finance mass retrofit for the public sector through Amber Green Operations and the £100 million LEEF (London Energy Efficient Fund). Many lenders are apparently wary of investing in energy saving technologies, many of which are not proven, leaving the public sector to take the slack (and we know the problem with this in the current austerity climate). Curtis claimed by leveraging European JESSICA funds and RBS investment, she could offer cheaper money than almost any public sector money out there with less conditions and for a longer period (ie at least 10 years, which is the payback period required on most energy saving projects).
I hope it works. A way for bankers to redeem themselves by helping us save the planet!
Other presentations were interesting – Matt Turner of AECOM talked of energy mapping to show what technology works best in different environments, which sounded feasible. Emma Beal of SITA (a unit of Suez Environment) talked of large scale projects to use waste as an energy source locally, but the logistics of securing agreement from all the different parties involved sounded daunting. And the folks from Ramboll had some interesting lessons about planned large scale decentralised energy systems in Denmark – a dream that will never happen under localism (where the ‘duty to cooperate’ for local authorities does not even apply to infrastructure providers).