Green Investment Bank launches industry-wide LED retrofit funding. First stop, GKN Aerospace

A new £5 million loan source has opened up for LED building retrofits in the UK, backed in part by the government's Green Investment Bank, starting with a lighting upgrade at aerospace stalwart GKN.

The bank is contributing £2.5 million to a fund managed by private investors Equitix Ltd., which is raising the other £2.5 million, all in partnership with energy engineering and consulting firm Climate Energy.

Its first project will be to help upgrade lighting at GKN's Aerospace’s manufacturing site in Cowes on the Isle of Wight, where GKN develops and makes composite materials as well as wing and fuselage structures and components for the aviation industry.

GKN is replacing lighting across a raft of operations at Cowe's Falcon Yard facility, including assembly areas, clean rooms, offices and shipping, a GKN spokesperson told Lux. It is not upgrading task lighting or specialist equipment rooms, like spray booths.

The LEDs should reduce energy consumption and improve light quality compared to the existing combination of aging T5, T8 and T12 fluorescent tubes and sodium vapour and halide high bay lights, the spokesperson said.

'GKN Aerospace constantly explores ways to use advancing technologies to improve our manufacturing facilities and lower our environmental footprint,' said John Gould, GKN facilities manager. 'This new LED lighting programme does just that, providing improved quality lighting for our workforce whilst reducing energy consumption and maintenance and offering valuable carbon savings.'

Nick Painter from project manager Climate Energy noted that GIB funding will enable energy and carbon savings at GKN's Cowes site 'whilst preserving capital that supports their core business activities'. Climate Energy has hired SSE Contracting for the job.

None of the parties would specify how much GKN is paying for the new lights, the size of the loan, or the expected payback.

The Green Investment Bank was founded by the UK's Department for Business, Innovation & Skills in 2012 to help the country meet its legal mandate to reduce carbon emissions 80 per cent by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.

It lends money at competitive commercial interest rates, unlike another government entity, Salix, which provides interest free loans but requires a relatively quick payback. GIB has said in the past that it can offer much longer term loans than other banks. 

Its early work focused on offshore wind and biowaste, and it more recently expanded into LED streetlighting before this latest push into commercial indoor LED lighting.

Photo is from GKN Aerospace