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EcoConnect launches at Addleshaw Goddard

EcoConnect launches at Addleshaw Goddard

The first EcoConnect Forum event took place on Tuesday 10th July at Addleshaw Goodards. ‘Development Finance and the Leeds Green Economy’ drew an audience of approximately 60, to hear a distinguished local panel discuss the regions prospects following the announcement that the Green Investment Bank will be based in London and Edingburgh.

 

A ‘question time’ style format was used to provoke a wide ranging and diverse discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of Yorkshire as a national centre for Green innovation. Robert Hokin, Chief Executive at Eco Connect spoke of the growth of the ‘not for profit organisation’ in the south, and how this event was the first to be held outside of London, aimed at bringing together investors, professionals and the supply chain to promote activity in this important sector.   

Moderated by Jeremy Barnett, Specialist Barrister on Carbon law and Renewable Energy at St Pauls Chambers Leeds ( and 2 Bedford Row), each member of the panel then gave an overview of the current situation, bearing in mind the background being the current economic climate and the lack of investment across the whole market.

Dr Stephen Brown, Director of Strategy and Innovation at CO2 Sense spoke of Yorkshire and Humberside being a world leader in both Carbon Capture Storage and  the Humber Offshore Wind development. He felt that projects could be split into city wide and community wide categories, with the current challeng being to link developers with funders.

Andrew Burton, the Investment Director of Finance Yorkshire Equity Fund and Chairman of the Yorkshire Association of Business Angels, said that the aim of the Angel investor was to try to back novel projects, and felt we should concentrate on investments with including tidal, wind with a real chance of traction 10 – 20 years down the road, that he described as technologies of the future.

Richard Goodfellow, Head of Energy and Low Carbon Partner at Addleshaw  pointed to the strengths of Yorkshire being the centre of the country, with a powerful research community, strong financial services sector, with a tremendous coastline to promote offshore wind and tidal technology. As a member of the Green Economy panel, work was being done to identify projects that can’t find funding, where the public sector needs to ‘prime the pump’.

The discussion opened with the need to identify projects if funding institutions were to be persuaded to invest the large sums that are required to fund major infrastructure projects, as a ‘conveyor belt’ of new projects needing investment is required to maintain profitability.

Many speakers spoke of the lack of knowledge in the supply chain as to the funds that are available. Stephen Brown described the situation as being a ‘market failure of the lack of information’, the main driver for events such as this evenings seminar. A number of contributors remarked upon the strong leadership that the Leeds City Region was giving in this area, especially in terms of securing funding for major projects.

Many speakers spoke of frustration at the changing signals from government that was causing uncertainty in the market, with the reductions in Feed in Tariff being the obvious example. The main difficulty facing entrepeneurs in this area is the need to establish critical mass before investment will be forthcoming.

The panel then turned to consider emerging technologies, in particular electric vehicles, smart grid and energy storage. A clear consensus arose in the debate, that government could ‘prime the pump’ by promoting use of electric and hybrid vehicles in fleets and local authorities. The Regions strength in ‘retrofitting’, following the ‘mini stern’ report by Professor Andy Goulson and the Centre for Low Carbon Futures had drawn the roadmap for a £5 billion project for the Leeds City Region that would be self financing, showing a profit after 5 years. The region should concentrate on the sustainability in the construction sector, with the second BIM event in Bradford in September and its clear strength in these industries. 

With time running out, panellists spoke in a little more detail about the Don Valley Power Project, bringing a world class Carbon Capture Storage project to the region, the cryogenic storage at HighView Power that originated at Leeds University and smart grid, all of which could become topics in their own right for future seminars.

The session concluded at 6.50, with delegates being reminded that the next seminar will be on October 9th 2012.

For any advice and assistance for issues like these please do call Jeremy on 0844 2722322 or submit a comment below. Jeremy will come back to you at the earliest convenience.

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