Offshore wind head for UK GIB

The UK government’s £3bn ($4.5bn) Green Investment Bank (GIB) has appointed a new managing director for offshore wind, as it tries to help speed development of the sector by taking stakes in major projects at an early stage.

Christine Brockwell, who joins GIB’s London office, was previously a director at Global Capital Finance, a financial services advisory firm where she was responsible European renewable energy transactions and global equity syndication.

In its first six months of operation, the GIB’s focus has been on the secondary market for operating assets, investing in existing offshore wind projects to allow capital to be recycled into new projects.

Brockwell’s appointment coincides with the expansion of the GIB’s offshore wind investment strategy, which will see it continue to back secondary markets as well as now investing in offshore projects at the construction stage.

The bank has started negotiations with energy companies and other wind farm developers over taking minority equity stakes worth between £75m and £100m in projects that have yet to make it off the drawing board.

“The market needs more capital – there is a slowdown in development,” says Shaun Kingsbury, the GIB’s chief executive. “But our desire to do this is because now we have bought a few assets we have a better understanding of it and see opportunities to make returns.”

He says the move by the bank will provide credibility for foreign direct investors in particular, and more confidence about the UK’s regulatory regime.

Kingsbury says the bank is looking to invest in half a dozen projects that have been approved by their developers. About half of the £3bn of capital the bank will receive from the taxpayer will be invested in the offshore wind sector, he adds.

“Offshore wind will play a significant role in helping the UK meet its binding renewable energy obligations. Through its direct funding capabilities and its desire to stimulate co-investment from other institutions, the GIB is vital to the industry’s success in realising its planned installed capacity,” says Brockwell.