Iona Capital ("Iona"), through its North West Environmental Infrastructure Fund and through Iona Environmental Infrastructure Funds 1 and 2, has committed £130 million of investment into new and existing environmental infrastructure projects in the UK’s Northern Powerhouse. These investments will create an estimated 300 jobs by June 2017 with potential for a further 600+ jobs from future ‘clean energy’ funding in the region over the next two years.
To date Iona has: developed a portfolio of bio-energy plants in North Yorkshire; redeveloped plants including Cumbria Biogas at Dryholme farm near Silloth in Cumbria, and; work has just begun with a highly innovative company to develop biofuels from waste in Bradford.
Iona continues to work on a wide range of renewable energy projects in the Powerhouse region in conjunction with local government, private individuals and innovative businesses. These low carbon projects are helping the UK to achieve climate change commitments, promote the circular economy, and create jobs and opportunities in northern England. Many of the projects take biowaste and produce green gas and electricity that is then supplied back to the National Grid.
Investors in Iona’s three infrastructure funds include a number of local government pension funds, such as the Merseyside Pension Fund and the Greater Manchester Pension Fund. These and other local authority pension funds have mandated Iona to invest in environmental infrastructure projects that generate a measurable and beneficial impact – with a financial return.
Peter Wallach, Director of Merseyside Pension Fund, comments: “Where we can make investments with fund managers that develop real assets which meet our target investment returns and have social benefits such as creating employment, then it is always a good news item which will be fully endorsed by my Pensions Committee members. Iona Capital has achieved this for us with the £60m entrusted to them.”
Paddy Dowdall, Assistant Executive Director of Greater Manchester Pension Fund, says: “We have £40 million currently earmarked for specific environmental infrastructure projects within the North West through Iona Capital. This money has been speedily absorbed into great projects which I believe will have a positive local environmental impact and create additional local jobs. This is all part of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund’s commitment to supporting local investment without compromising on our returns.”
Over the past five years, Iona has financed over 20 renewable energy projects in Wales, Scotland and England, all of which supply energy and/or heat to the local grid networks. Iona’s projects utilise proven biological and thermal conversion technologies such as anaerobic digestion ("AD") and Biomass combined heat and power (Biomass "CHP"), creating renewable energy, contributing to the EU goals for 2020 and beyond, and reinforcing the UK’s energy security.
Michael Dunn, Director of Iona Capital, adds: “There is a great economic argument for developing waste production facilities. Take for example an AD plant. There are financial rewards for generating heat and power and the production of biomethane to export to the national grid. In addition, the digestate – a by-product of the process – is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, so can be used as fertiliser, so that nothing goes to waste.
This significant level of funding will not only increase the region’s access to green energy, but also create a substantial number of jobs for the Northern Powerhouse.”