News In Brief 10 April 2017


Denis Naughten, Eire’s Minister for Climate Action and the Environment, announced details of a €5 million-a-year fund to help people to “deep retrofit” their homes. The scheme will allow for grants of up to 50% of the cost of a home energy project; the cash aid from the State could be worth €10,000 to individual homeowners. Naughten said: “We can actually save families’ money by taking these measures…we can create a new dynamic in the economy that creates local jobs outside the major urban centres by going down this road, so it’s good for homes, it’s good for the local economy and by the way it’s also good for the environment.”


A British court backed the UK government’s decision to sell its Green Investment Bank to a consortium led by Macquarie Group, rejecting a request from a rival bidder to review decisions about the sale made by ministers. Sustainable Development Capital LLP, or SDCL, had asked the High Court for a judicial review of the planned sale of the bank after it failed to win preferred bidder status. In September 2016 the government selected a group led by Australian bank Macquarie as the preferred bidder, but SDCL argued the government wasn’t compliant with criteria set out to guide ministers in their decision. Green Investment Bank, set up by the government in 2012 to speed Britain’s switch from fossil fuel-fired power generation, has backed projects from wind farms to biogas plants. SDCL said it will now seek to redeploy as much as £1 billion pounds for clean energy through a new fund called SDCL EDGE.


Kingdom Housing Association will develop 98 homes for rent across Fife after securing a £5 million bond issued as a loan by social investment charity Allia as part of the Scottish Government’s ‘More Homes Scotland’ strategy. The new homes will be built at Inverkeithing, Torryburn, Bonnybank and Crosshill. Last year Kingdom secured a similar Allia bond for the development of 116 new homes.


Renewables were the biggest new source of electricity in 2016 as the cost of building new wind and solar farms fell. Clean energy provided 55% of all new capacity added worldwide, the most ever, and total investment was about double the amount for generators driven by fossil fuels, according to a report published by UN Environment, the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre and Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Investment in clean power dropped 23% from 2015 to $241.6 billion, meaning that the new capacity installed came at a lower price. The average capital expenditure for a megawatt of wind and solar fell more than 10% according to the study, and they are some of the cheapest sources of electricity in some countries. The data are similar to findings from the International Energy Agency, which said the capacity of renewables added in 2015 exceeded additions from all other sources for the first time and that the total installed base for renewables has now passed that for coal. Last year, solar made up nearly half of all new renewable investments at $113.7 billion. While that was down 34% from 2015, it paid for 75 gigawatts of new capacity, the most ever. Solar panel prices have fallen more than 80% since the start of 2010, and wind power has declined more than 35%.

At the same time, Europe’s energy utilities have pledged that no new coal-fired plants will be built in the EU after 2020. National energy companies from every EU nation – except Poland and Greece – have signed up to the initiative, which will overhaul the bloc’s energy-generating future.


The fifth annual Small Cap Awards nominations have been announced and Capital for Colleagues, a member of the Social Stock Exchange, has been nominated in two categories, as the NEX Exchange Company of the Year and second as the Social Stock Exchange Impact Company of the Year. The winners will be announced on Thursday 22 June.


The healthcare company Octopus and property development specialist Places for People – a member of the Social Stock Exchange – have launched a new £200 million retirement housing business which aims to build more than 2,700 homes in the next five years. The new company, called Liberty Retirement Living, will provide homes for people over 55 looking to downsize, and already has five retirement villages in the pipeline. The venture hopes to capitalise on the under-supply of purpose-built homes for older people, which currently makes up just 2% of the UK’s housing stock, compared to 17% of stock in the US. According to research from property consultancy Knight Frank, around 25% of over-55s want to move into some sort of retirement housing in the future, which would translate into around 2.5 million households. Places for People, which is backing Liberty with £20 million, manages or owns more than 180,000 homes and 115 leisure facilities.


The Social Stock Exchange announced that Emergex has been approved as a member following the ratification of its impact report by the independent Admissions Panel. Emergex provides a novel synthetic vaccine technology that is ideally suited to the low resource environments where infections occur. These vaccines will be used to create a clinical grade international vaccine repository that will act as a first line of defence against existing and newly emerging infectious outbreaks. Emergex has been awarded a £499,825 grant from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency.


Oxfam published a report entitled Impact Investing: Who Are We Serving? Which “questions some of the assumptions around impact investment”, and argues that the “sector risks being discredited due to rising, unrealistic expectations about financial returns”. It adds (in part): “Given the blended return objectives of impact investing, we are disappointed by the disproportionate focus on proving the case around financial returns. In contrast, there is limited reporting of impact achieved. Transparent reporting of impact provides the basis for learning about how enterprise-led solutions can help combat poverty, and to ensure that successful approaches can be replicated. Most publications have instead focused on assessing financial returns associated with impact investing. Arguably the most comprehensive of these is the report by Cambridge Associates and the GIIN10 which states that ‘market rate returns are attainable in impact investing’. However, this same report included no commentary on the associated impacts achieved, relied significantly on the performance of funds focused on the theme of financial inclusion (which, at least for microfinance, has depended on decades of subsidies), and draws its conclusion from a small pool of funds that were targeting market rate returns. Yet, reports such as this play an important role in influencing the views of investors and serves to reinforce a common narrative that is amplified and echoed in the press and in secondary research.”



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