British Ambassador Matthew Gould, March 3.
(photo credit: BEN KELMER)
As the United Kingdom’s economy and population continue to surge, the country’s ever-expanding infrastructural projects are an ideal home for Israeli green energy investors, British government officials told participants in a business forum on Tuesday morning.
“I know sometimes there is concern in Israel about what reception they’ll get in Europe and in the UK,” said British Ambassador Matthew Gould. “What I can say to you with absolute confidence is that you will get in the UK an extremely warm welcome.”
Gould was addressing members of Israel’s renewable energy and infrastructure investment community, who were attending a seminar in Ramat Gan promoting projects in these sectors in the UK. Endorsing the growing British economy as an environment “in really robust, good health,” the ambassador presented his country as “an attractive destination for investment” in infrastructure and other sectors.
The seminar was organized by the British Embassy in Israel, the Meitar law firm, KPMG and UK Trade & Investment – a UK government department that both supports UK-based business in seeking out international markets and encourages international firms to bring their business to the UK.
“In the areas we’re discussing today in particular, in infrastructure and regeneration there are a range of fantastic opportunities where there are stable, predictable returns, where we have tried very hard to keep compiling lists and databases of all the best projects,” Gould said.
UK infrastructure is at the moment undergoing a massive upgrade in order to remain globally competition, with a national pipeline of more than 500 projects for the year 2020 and beyond, explained Sayida Husain, head of institutional investor relations and developed markets, at UK Trade & Investment.
“The UK cannot do it by itself,” Husain said, noting that investors from all over the world are involved in these types of projects.
The British government is incentivizing investments in low carbon generating industries, and has allocated 62 megawatts for advanced conversion technology energy project, 94.75 megawatts for energy from waste, 1,162 megawatts for offshore wind power, 748.55 for onshore wind power and 71.55 megawatts for photovoltaic solar energy, according to Husain.
“The UK is on a path to decarbonize so we need to make sure we maintain a security of supply,” she said.
All in all, some 330 billion pounds worth of investments are required in order for the UK to reach its 2020 targets in the green economy sector, added Karl Smith, offshore wind fund manager at the Green Investment Bank, an independently-run, government-supported institution.
Meanwhile, as “the fastest growing city in Europe,” London needs more infrastructure projects in order to meet its increasing demands, Husain said. In order to help international investors identify opportunities, UK Trade & Investment has set up a Regeneration Investment Organization that lists all the potential projects in the pipeline that they can become involved with, she explained.
“Overseas investors have been active in the UK for many years. They – you – are helping the UK with water, transport and housing needs,” Husain told the Israeli firms at the seminar. “We need these investments to continue.”
Acknowledging that “there is a price for renewable energy,” John Fisher, a partner at KPMG Somekh Chaikin’s international taxation division, reminded investors that this sector is, however, exempt from European carbon levies. In addition, he stressed, the UK has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in Europe and does not deduct taxes for dividends paid outside the UK.
As far as Israeli investors in particular are concerned, Ambassador Gould described the economy between the UK and Israel as “booming year after year.”
“Trade between Britain and Israel has been going up by a really substantial amount every year,” he said. “We are a government and a country that are excited about the economic partnership with Israel, that are looking forward to working with you.”