RBS launches £200m corporate energy efficiency fund

Bank draws on government’s Funding for Lending scheme to offer competitive loans to help businesses deliver energy efficiency

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) will today launch a £200m Carbon Reduction Fund designed to provide businesses with access to low cost loans to help them undertake energy efficiency improvements.

The bank, which already claims to be the largest lender to renewable energy projects in the UK, said it would take advantage of the low lending rates available through the government’s Funding for Lending scheme to offer highly competitive energy efficiency loans.

The company said the new fund would support a wide range of different energy saving projects, ranging from energy efficient heating and lighting technologies, to green building retrofits and onsite renewable energy installations.

It added that companies with revenues in excess of £25m would be invited to apply for the loans.

“Businesses of all shapes and sizes can make significant savings from being more efficient as energy costs continue to rise,” said Chris Sullivan, chief executive of RBS Corporate bank. “We hope to offer businesses both an incentive and a solution to transforming their energy use and carbon footprint.”

Jane Stevensen, director of sustainability at consultancy Grant Thornton, welcomed the initiative, arguing that with electricity bills likely to rise over the coming years and listed companies facing new mandatory carbon reporting rules from next year innovations in sustainable financing have “the potential to open up opportunities for businesses at a really advantageous time”.

A spokeswoman for RBS said that during a pilot of the new fund the bank had seen a “strong degree of interest and engagement” from financial directors keen to enhance their energy efficiency.

“The rationale for undertaking energy efficiency measures is, we believe, compelling, not least given the financial benefits and recent market commentary regarding the future cost of energy,” she tiold BusinessGreen.

She added that the bank was looking for applications to the fund that show a “clear rationale and carbon reduction benefit… [and have] the typical credit characteristics that you would want to see for any sensible lending”.

The launch of the fund is the latest in a series of green announcements from RBS, which earlier this year confirmed that it loaned over £360m to renewable energy projects in 2011. The bank has already launched a dedicated £50m fund to support renewable energy projects undertaken on agricultural land and has also announced an ambitious internal sustainability programme that aims to save the company £200m by 2020 and cut carbon emissions by 15 per cent.

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