And, in a further demonstration of its commitment, the Bank is set to expand its UK specialist renewables team in Manchester and create Scotland–based teams at its corporate banking centres in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
In 2007, the Bank ring-fenced £400m specifically to fund renewable energy and carbon reduction projects up to the end of this year. However most of this sum has now been allocated and the extra £200m will be used to help fund projects that otherwise would have missed out.
A Co-operative Financial Services spokesman said the Bank has considerable expertise in supporting the development of renewable technologies and specialises in small to medium projects of up to £25m.
There has been a considerable upsurge in interest recently, particularly from community groups and smaller developers eager to utilise the Government’s new feed–in tariffs regime.
The Bank says that throughout the credit crunch and the recession, it continued to lend to green energy projects while other banks reined in lending to corporate and business customers.
Richard Wilcox, Head of Renewables at the Co-operative Bank, told the News: “We are delighted to provide this commitment to funding renewable energy projects, particularly those of small to medium size where the Bank has built specialist expertise.
“Funding of renewables on this scale is a key market for our Renewables Team. We have now funded 16 wind farms in Scotland and are continually looking to fund more of these types of project where we can work with private individuals, such as farmers, landowners, wind farm developers and community groups.
“These are often overlooked by many banks, yet it is important that support is provided as a successful transition to a low carbon economy will not solely occur by relying on major renewables schemes.”
Mr Wilcox said that a large proportion of the additional funding will be lent to projects in Scotland and emphasised that the additional £200m did not represent the end of the Bank’s commitment.
“We are currently planning for the future and see Scotland as the key region as part of those plans,” he said. “Scotland is a very important to the Bank and we have a tremendous opportunity to expand our presence there, and not just in renewables.
“We are seeing real interest from companies that feel let down by the bigger banks. Renewable energy is a growth area that is becoming increasingly attractive due to Government incentives aimed at kick-starting the market, which will hopefully lead to the country achieving its long-term carbon reduction targets.”