Helene Winch, investment specialist at Low Carbon shares her thoughts on divestment and why the finance community should look to make more responsible investments for a low carbon future.
It’s hard to ignore the widespread, global attention that the divestment movement is generating. Bill Gates, Rockefeller Foundation and the Norwegian government are a few of the high-profile individuals and institutions openly supporting divesting from fossil fuels. Such positive action can only help in combatting the negative effects of climate change.
Fighting carbon emissions is a worthy cause, but more needs to be done to reach out to institutional investors who need proof that stable, low-risk, inflation-linked returns are to be had from divesting in fossil fuels, and reinvesting in climate solutions, such as large scale solar or onshore wind. If we are to move to a low carbon economy, we must invest heavily in low carbon assets at scale. We need buy in from the investor community to truly achieve this at a low cost.
The benefits of investing in renewable energy as a climate solution are clear. Renewables have a strong, proven track record. Solar PV, for example, has been generating electricity for over twenty years. Renewable energy is typically a stable source of power, and can generate electricity all year round with minimal operational cost. Oil prices are volatile – you cannot guarantee stable high returns. Over 40% of electricity demand has been met by renewable energy generation in recent years suggesting that renewable energy is a core infrastructure asset that is here to stay.
We need more investors to lead the charge in showing more risk-averse investors how to invest into renewables. A recent poll suggested that nearly a third of Britons agree that renewable technologies would yield the greatest returns for pension investments. Our FTSE 100 will not be dominated by BP, Shell or fossil fuel companies in the future.
We also need governments across Europe to mirror France, where institutional investors are now called upon to disclose the carbon intensity of their investments. Legislation like this can create a positive momentum for renewable energy investment in Europe.
Investing in renewable energy presents strong growth opportunities now, and for future generations. We hope to see more leading investors and financial institutions educate the industry on the benefits of renewable energy investment as a critical climate solution.
Here at Low Carbon, we’ve been working closely with the Land Rover BAR sailing team to kit out their new headquarters in Portsmouth with over 400 high capacity solar panels.
Now up and running, the home of Land Rover BAR has a capacity of 114kW and will contribute approximately 130,000kWh of clean energy per year towards the team’s energy needs. That’s enough to power more than 40 homes and could help to save over 60 tonnes of CO2 annually.
With fully operational solar panels in place, the Land Rover BAR HQ is a great example of how sports clubs can become more sustainable and generate new streams of revenue.
However, there’s more to this than simply cutting energy costs. By installing renewable energy technologies such as solar panels, sports clubs can help to lead the charge in influencing sustainable behaviour.
Sports clubs hold a privileged position as role models in society, particularly to the younger generation. This influence should not be taken for granted. Sport clubs should consider how they can encourage the public to embrace sustainability, while creating and maintaining a clean and long-lasting environment for future generations to enjoy.
Our work with Land Rover BAR is at the start of a very exciting movement. Imagine one day where vast stadiums like Wembley or even Twickenham are entirely powered by renewable energy. It’s not unrealistic.
Not only could the energy output feed back into the grid, installations such as this could play their part in mitigating the causes of climate change. And that’s a game where everyone wins.
Roy Bedlow, Chief Executive of Low Carbon, explores the reasons why the worlds of sport and sustainability would create the ultimate team
We live in the age of the customer. Never have we demanded so much of the organisations we follow, invest in or work for. Demonstrating a level of corporate responsibility is therefore paramount for any company in today’s consumer-centric climate.
Technology giants Apple and Google, for example recently led the charge in buying into ‘Green’, with Google committing to invest over $1.5 billion in clean energy projects. Now is the time for the sporting industry to a take a leaf out of the tech sector’s book.
Our beloved football, cricket or rugby clubs are all close to our hearts – but their influence over us should extend far beyond the pitch. There is a ripe opportunity for sport clubs across the country to become truly sustainable, educational businesses.
Being a sustainable machine is not a pipe dream for the future. Some prestigious sport organisations are already tackling the issues of energy consumption and sustainability, for instance the Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) team recently announced that its new headquarters in Portsmouth will be powered by renewable energy, mainly in the form of solar panels.
Provided by renewable energy investment company Low Carbon, these panels will help ensure that the BAR HQ is awarded BREEAM ‘Excellent’ status – the hallmark of excellence in sustainable building. This effort is part of BAR’s bid to win back The Americas Cup for the UK, with the team recently being awarded the internationally recognised ISO 20121 standard.
The London 2012 Olympic Games pioneered ISO 20121, and Manchester United attained the standard for their operations at Old Trafford, but BAR is the only sports team in the UK to achieve this certification across all its activities. Feats like this are always impressive achievements, especially as the project also aims to educate the public on the benefits of renewable energy. These projects serve as an example to not only the sporting industry, but to UK businesses who are looking to bolster CSR credentials and educate their customers.
The UK could also look across the pond for inspiration when it comes to renewable energy investment. In the US, renewable energy usage in stadiums and other professional sports facilities is moving into the mainstream. A study from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) showed that the total cumulative solar capacity in 25 stadiums and 12 racing tracks reached 21.7 MW in 2014, enough to power 3,000 homes.
Furthermore, even high-profile sporting occasions such as the Olympic Games have made sustainability pledges, for example in the run-up to the London 2012 games, and through the principles set for Tokyo 2020. However, it’s imperative that these organisations and high-profile sporting events fully deliver on their promises when it comes to sustainability. Not only will this highlight the importance of renewable energy investment, but it will also move it up the agenda in sports internationally.
The aim of the game
Investment in renewable energy initiatives is not just a beneficial, profile-raising exercise for those in the cleantech sector. Make no mistake about it: the benefits to sport clubs, businesses and stadiums can be huge. Not only can they save money with sustainability measures, but they can also justify both the time and money that is spent on their projects to all their stakeholders, if they make less of a dent economically and ecologically.
Take the FIA Formula E series, the world’s first all-electric racing championship which has proven that a sport often deemed as taking a high toll on the environment through petrol-guzzling cars can in fact be practiced with sustainable vehicles ( not to mention, highly enjoyable to watch!)
Overwhelmingly, sports teams represent key role models in society, and inspire many a child growing up. This privileged position should not be taken for granted. High-profile sport clubs should look to create and maintain a clean and long-lasting environment for younger generations, who will then drive sustainability forward instinctively.
The possibilities are endless. Imagine a world where vast and well-known stadiums like Twickenham or Wembley are completely powered by renewable energy? Not only would the energy output feedback into the grid to power our country, but they can also play their part in mitigating the causes of harmful climate change. Everyone can win at this game.
Low Carbon has teamed up with Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) to ensure the team’s headquarters is powered by the latest high efficient solar photovoltaic (PV) technology.
The partnership will support BAR’s efforts to run a sustainable team, and will also see the their HQ awarded the BREEAM ‘Excellent’ status – the hallmark of excellence in sustainable building.
With our help, BAR are aiming to supply at least 90% of the team’s electricity power, and are hoping to increase this to 100% when energy monitoring is implemented.
Sir Ben Ainslie said he was thrilled to be working with us. “We’re delighted to be on board with Low Carbon, and this new partnership takes us a long way towards our goal of sustainable, clean energy for our new base,” he said.
The BAR team was launched in June 2014 by four times Olympic gold medalist and 34th America’s Cup winner, Sir Ben Ainslie. Their goal is to bring the America’s Cup back home to Britain – a feat not managed by any British team in history.
We’re incredible excited by this partnership, as well as the prospect of contributing to a true British success story.
Roy Bedlow, Low Carbon’s Chief Executive, said: “With Low Carbon and BAR sharing an ethos of sustainability, responsibility and mitigating the effects of climate change, I believe that together we can continue to make a difference for the better, long into the future.”