LONDON The government-funded Carbon Trust said on Monday it will commit up to 18 million pounds ($29.34 million) in funding for the UK's clean energy sector.

The money will help address the shortage of investment capital for British clean energy companies in their early stages.

It will be invested over the next 12 to 18 months, directed at companies which will offer good commercial returns and at technologies in the solar, marine and wind power and energy efficiency sectors.

The sum represents more than a quarter of the UK's entire venture capital clean energy investment last year, which stood at 66.5 million pounds, according to the company's estimates.

Supporting green start-up companies with this capital means innovative ideas for low carbon energy will be able to make it out of the lab and into the future energy mix, said Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

(Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by William Hardy)