On the day it publishes its 2011 Sustainability Report, the bank says it expects the sector to grow further in the next few years.

Figures from Infrastructure Journal show RBS loaned more than $366m to UK renewable projects last year. The journal also calculates that across the sector, lending increased by nearly 200% on the previous year. In 2010 deals worth $464m were completed, which increased to $1.372bn in 2011 (figures from Infrastructure Journal).

Jamieson Thrower, Senior Director in RBS's structured finance division says: "RBS is playing its part in financing the transition to a greener economy. We have built up an impressive level of expertise in this area, which shows in the growing number of transactions we completed last year. With EU members committed to sourcing 20% of their energy from renewables by 2020, the sector is likely to remain busy over the next few years."

One driver behind the increase in activity in the sector is the surge in biomass developments after the U.K reviewed its Renewables Obligation banding in October 2011. This was encouraging for onshore wind and proposed greater subsidies for enhanced biomass generators while leaving incentives for other forms of biomass power mostly unchanged, easing uncertainty across the industry for continued future development. Biomass plants generate power from organic materials such as woodchips, municipal waste and straw.

Case study

RBS provided £23m of debt facilities to support Falck Renewables (a leading European windfarm developer) extend the Kilbraur windfarm in Scotland in 2011. The additional 8 turbines are now constructed and fully operational.

The wind farm is located in Strath Brora, Sutherland and consists of 27 x 2.5Mw turbines. When the wind farm is operating fully it generates enough clean, green electricity to supply around 37,400 average homes and help reduce reliance on existing less environmentally-friendly energy resources

Case study

Helius CoRDe biomass plant, UK secured £42.4 million of financing in 2011 to finance the construction, commissioning and operation of a 7.2MW Biomass project in Rothes, Morayshire, Scotland. The project will help Scotland's whisky industry meet a commitment to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, whilst generating enough electricity to power 9,000 homes. The plant saves 46,000 tonnes of CO2 per year compared to equivalent coal fired power stations

2011 Sustainability Report

Energy financing is just one topic that features in RBS's 2011 Sustainability Report, 'Building a Sustainable RBS'. This year's publication continues to demonstrate the Bank's commitment to being transparent on social, ethical and environmental issues. RBS's approach to disclosure has earned AA1000 Assurance, a leading indicator of reporting good-practice.

Commenting on the Report, RBS Group Chairman Philip Hampton said: "We're working hard to change RBS for the better and our annual Sustainability Report is an important milestone in that process. Not only does it gives us an opportunity to disclose information that's of interest to a wider range of our stakeholders, it's also a chance show how much RBS is changing."

As well as focusing on five key sustainability themes, the report includes details of new engagement sessions being undertaken by the bank's Board-level Sustainability Committee. These sessions have seen leading advocacy groups and NGOs meeting face-to-face with some of the most senior people in RBS.

Also for the first time, RBS has published Environmental, Social and Ethical Risk statements for four key sectors: oil and gas, mining and metals, defence and forestry. In conjunction with the launch of the Sustainability Report, RBS is also publishing an updated version of its Lending to the Energy Sector (PDF 1.2MB) booklet, which we believe goes further than any other bank to explain our financing within this high profile sector.

For further information contact: RBS Group Media Relations +44 131 523 4205.

Notes to Editors

Highlights from the 2011 Sustainability Report include:

  • 23 out of our 35 UK customer charter commitments met
  • 120,000 new business start-up accounts in the UK
  • 50,000 employees gave up 235,000 hours off work to volunteer in their community
  • £10 million invested in data protection
  • 58% of our global energy projects went to renewables

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