Environment Secretary David Miliband has announced that the Government will provide £10 million of investment to a scheme to increase the use of renewable energy. Partnership for Renewables (PfR) is a new venture whereby private sector organisations will develop onsite renewable energy projects with local authorities, hospitals, and other public sector bodies.

The programme, run by the Carbon Trust, expects to have 500 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy projects, primarily made up of 3 to 5MW wind turbine schemes, constructed or under development within the next five years. To do this it needs to generate up to £500 million.

It is expected that the Government's investment will kick start the expansion of the public sector renewables market by supporting early stage project development and managing ongoing work. “500 megawatts of renewable energy is enough to serve the houses of Exeter , Oxford , Norwich and Newcastle combined – that's the equivalent of 250,000 houses at zero carbon cost to the environment,” said Mr Miliband.

“The Carbon Trust has shown how plans for renewable installations, mainly wind power, on the land of local authorities and hospitals can be held back because public and private investment are not working together. “Our investment of £10 million has the potential to unlock up to half a billion pounds in private investment, produce 500 megawatts of renewable electricity for public sector organisations to use themselves or to deliver to homes and businesses around the country.”

The Carbon Trust is hopeful that this investment will help the creation of a low carbon economy. “The Carbon Trust is delighted the Government is supporting the establishment of Partnerships for Renewables through this funding announcement today,” said Carbon Trust chief executive Tom Delay.

“Our aim is to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy and PfR is an important step towards that goal. “The PfR company will open up and fast track the development of a new market for renewable power and will be further proof that there are business solutions to climate change. Our plans for PfR are ambitious; in five years by working with local authorities and other public sector bodies we aim to have up to 500MW of new renewable projects built or under development. Once built, these projects will be providing power equivalent to the needs of a quarter of a million homes,” he said.

The funding should also help the public sector take advantage of the additional £50m capital grant funding for DTI's Low Carbon Buildings Programme. This will help public sector organisations assess how their needs can be met from renewable energy sources and make applications for funding. The Carbon Trust's ambitious plans set out to increase existing wind generation capacity by 25%, and act as a catalyst for the private sector to invest in their own on-site renewable projects.

By potentially saving 175,000 – 190,000 tonnes of carbon each year, it would also help address the threat of climate change and contribute towards the Government's goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60% by 2050.