City of London officials joked with economic attachés arriving at the Old Bailey for a seminar on renewable energy that the historic Central Criminal Court was the ideal venue because it “generated a lot of hot air”.
On trial was the economic viability of renewable energy sources and diplomats heard testimonies from expert witnesses from top City legal and investment firms about the rolling out of renewable projects.
Robert Lane, a partner at law firm CMS Cameron McKenna, explained the financial, legal and planning complexities of offshore transmission and how – with the right financial and legal instruments to spread risk – the building blocks were in place to create an integrated North Sea grid, transmitting electricity generated from wind farms along the UK coastline as well as clean energy from Scandinavia, Iceland and Northern Europe.
Munir Hassan, an energy expert at CMS Cameron McKenna, compared the long-term costs of renewables versus carbon-based sources of energy and concluded that despite hefty set-up costs, wind energy was the cheapest option for the UK in the long term.
He added that it was unlikely that the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan would have a long-term impact on the industry.
With renewable projects such as the North Sea grid costing in the order £30bn, attracting investors is key but Adam Frost, Head of Responsible Investment at Sarasin & Partners, said that with the right regulatory environment, institutional investors were warming up to the idea.
Following the talks, AERL members enjoyed an exclusive tour of the Old Bailey.