RBS doubles lending to sustainable energy projects

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The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has doubled its financial lending to sustainable energy projects, with more than 400 small and medium-sized businesses acting as benefactors of £1bn from the bank in 2015.

In a statement released on Monday, RBS announced a third consecutive year of growth for financial lending to sustainable energy projects, as it homes in on a £3bn lending total by 2017.

The £1bn-plus lending figures for this year have been described as a record for the banking sector by renewables and infrastructure market-data provider InfraDeals.

RBS’ chief executive officer of commercial and private banking Alison Rose said:

“Our record £1bn of lending is a huge achievement, demonstrating our unwavering commitment to the low-carbon economy and the jobs, businesses and communities that rely on it. It also highlights British businesses’ appetite for investing in renewable energy projects.”

The uptake in green project lending was largely driven by the solar and biomass industries, according to RBS, with lending to solar more than trebling to over £450m compared to 2014.

The increase in lending to biomass – from less than £50m in 2014 to more than £150m in 2015 – was largely driven by Lombard, RBS’s specialist asset finance lender.

Lombard’s focus on renewable energy projects led to a change in policy last year enabling the lender to use the asset and resulting revenue as security against lending for these projects as an alternative to cash or land, granting greater cash efficiency to customers.

Through RBS’ auditing service, more than 400 SMEs have identified around £10m in potential long-term savings. The service uses more than 300 trained renewable energy banking specialists to show businesses how to cut energy consumption by investing in energy efficiency measures and installing on-site renewables.

In order to hit the 2017 target, the auditing service is now being extended to larger firms with an annual energy spend of more than £200,000. The scheme helps these corporates comply with ESOS and other industry regulations.

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