Co-Operative Bank to Lend $482 Million for U.K. Renewables

Co-Operative Bank Plc will provide about 300 million pounds ($482 million) in loans for U.K. renewable energy projects this year and may increase its overall lending target, its head of renewables said.

The British mutual bank plans to commit the same amount of loans as last year for about 30 projects in 2012, James Sutcliffe, senior manager for renewable energy, said in an interview. In addition, it will “probably” extend its 1 billion-pound lending target to the end of 2013 by 250 million pounds, driven by demand from wind developers, he said.

The bank, which usually limits loans to 25 million pounds per project, has committed about 750 million pounds to more than 100 U.K. renewable energy plants since 2007. It has financed nine wind projects this year and may fund about 20 more compared with 33 wind deals last year, Sutcliffe said.

“We are absolutely bombarded with projects now, never been busier,” he said by phone. “Everyone is trying to get projects done before the ROC -- renewables obligation certificates -- banding changes in April next year.”

The U.K. is reviewing its green certificates program for renewable energy projects and plans to reduce the subsidies from next April. Wind developers need to complete their projects before then to secure the current support of one obligation certificate per megawatt-hour generated.

“Projects need to be generating by then so everyone is trying to close projects right now,” Sutcliffe said. The usual pricing for U.K. onshore wind loans is about 350 basis points, the executive said.

Last week, the Co-Operative Bank agreed to provide a 21.9 million-pound loan to Banks Renewables Ltd. for the 20.4-megawatt Penny Hill wind farm, its fourth project financing for the developer.

The bank, which focuses on the U.K., has financed wind farms, energy-from-waste projects, biomass plants and small hydropower facilities around the country. It may also finance its first solar power projects this year, using ROCs instead of feed-in tariffs, the manager said.

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