DOE to loan Ford $5.9 billion
Ford Motor Company will be converting factories across Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio to produce more fuel efficient car models, thanks to a loan from the Department of Energy. The $5.9 billion is part of the DOE's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program, which supports the development of innovative, advanced vehicle technologies to create thousands of clean energy jobs while helping reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil. The loan for Ford Motor Company is the first to be finalized since the program was appropriated in the fall of 2008, according to the DOE.
News of the loan follows the Obama administration's recently announced requirement of an average fuel economy of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. The new standard is expected to reduce oil consumption by an estimated 1.8 billion barrels, prevent greenhouse gas emissions of approximately 950 million metric tons, and save consumers more than $3,000 in fuel costs. Ford's loan from the DOE will enable it to meet those targets.
"This investment is part of our commitment to creating the clean energy jobs of the future while supporting American innovation," US Energy Secretary Steven Chu says. "We can revitalize the American auto industry and at the same time reduce our dependence on oil and cut our carbon pollution."
The DOE issued a conditional loan commitment to Ford in June to finance as much as 80 percent of qualified expenditures to improve the efficiency of light vehicles by using technologies that improve internal combustion engines and transmissions, reduce vehicle weight, reduce vehicle drag with more aerodynamic designs, and improve vehicle efficiency through the development of hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles. The loan proceeds will allow Ford to raise the fuel efficiency of more than a dozen popular models, the DOE reports, representing close to two million new vehicles annually, and save more than 200 million gallons of gas a year.
USS pension fund buys 50% stake in Bruc Energy
The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) private pension fund has taken a 50% stake in Bruc Energy, a Spain and Portugal renewables-focussed investment vehicle created by OPTrust and Spanish businessman, Juan Béjar.
In the transaction arranged by USS Investment Management, the wholly-owned subsidiary and principal investment manager and advisor to the Scheme, USS has invested €225M (c.£200m) in return for the stake in a major pipeline of 4,000MW of PV farms. Bruc Energy has an ambitious growth plan that goes beyond this to invest in other green energies, such as wind power.
USS, which announced two weeks ago its aim to be net zero by 2050, already has a strong relationship with both OPTrust and Juan Bejar through Globalvia, a specialist infrastructure platform focussed on managing rail and highways assets around the world.
Spain’s sun-drenched climate and national target to reach 100% renewable-based generation by 2050 make it an attractive place to invest in solar energy. In addition, the decades long lifespan of solar PV panels make them well-suited to USS in helping pay members’ pensions long into the future.
USS Investment Management CEO, Simon Pilcher, said: “We are delighted to be committing further finance to renewables and particularly to a major Spanish solar platform like this. We have already invested or committed around £1 billion to renewable energy and demand for this will only increase as more and more countries transition to lower carbon. We know that our members care very much about climate change and ESG and we are convinced that USS playing its part in supporting the transition to a low carbon economy makes good financial sense, too. This announcement closely follows on from our stated ambition to become Net Zero by 2050 so this transaction and others like it will be a key plank of our strategy going forward.”
Gavin Merchant, Co-Head of Direct Equity, said: “We have worked alongside OPTrust and Juan Béjar for many years and are delighted to be making this investment. The long-term nature of solar and the steady returns make renewables attractive to a pension scheme needing to pay pensions for years to come.”
OPTrust’s Morgan McCormick, Managing Director, Private Markets Group UK said: “We are excited to have USS join Bruc Energy building on our strong existing relationship. Their investment will help Bruc become one of the leading renewable energy platforms in Spain. At OPTrust, we believe that investing in renewable energy helps transitions the world to a more sustainable economy. In doing so, we can continue to deliver on our mission of paying pensions today and preserving pensions for tomorrow.”
Béjar said the partnership is a key step to establishing Bruc as one of the more dynamic players in the renewables industry in Spain, because it ensures access to the funds to develop our current portfolio. "All three shareholders of Bruc Energy share a long-term vision, but also the ambition and the social responsibility to counter the effects of climate change in the short-term," he said.
Following the transaction, which remains subject to conditions, including regulatory approval, Bruc Energy will be owned 50% by USS and BROP, a vehicle owned by OPTrust and Béjar. The transaction was advised by Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Greenhill and Nomura. Juan Béjar will be the president of Bruc Energy and Luis Venero the CEO.