Sunday, August 24, 2008

Triodos Seeks to Boost Funds on Windfarms, Energy Efficiency

Original Article Aug. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Triodos Bank NV, a Dutch lender and investment manager, will likely boost clean technology funds under management by half within three years as it helps finance windfarms and energy efficiency projects.

``The projects are out there,'' James Vaccaro, who manages 40 million pounds ($74 million) of investments in the U.K. for the Zeist-based bank, said in an interview on Aug. 19. ``We would expect very strong growth.''

The bank has about 1 billion euros ($1.5 billion) invested in and loaned to renewable energy and fuel-saving projects, which will grow as it helps build offshore windfarms near Germany and the Netherlands and solar generation in Spain, Vaccaro said. Some projects are profitable because they curb energy consumption, enabling the bank to share the lower fuel and power costs with customers, he said.

The European Union is seeking to curb greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 30 percent by 2020 compared with 1990 levels. Triodos's total assets under management more than doubled in the past five years to 3.3 billion euros as of Dec. 31 after it focused on investments to curb fossil-fuel use, promote healthy eating and benefit culture and the arts, the 2007 annual report said.

``The oil price does not have to be higher for there to be meaningful incentive'' to investment in non-fossil-fuel projects, Vaccaro said.

Triodos's Ampere Equity Fund has this year raised 400 million euros, which the group is starting to invest in about 4,500 megawatts of renewable energy, he said. That's enough for about 4 million homes. Investors included ABP Dutch General Pension Fund and Delta Lloyd Fund Managers.

U.K. Raising

In the U.K., Triodos in July raised 10 million pounds, mainly for windfarms, Vaccaro said. A ``small'' portion of that will likely be invested in tidal-energy projects, he said.

At one U.K. farm, Caton Moor, 10 original turbines were replaced by eight larger, more efficient machines, boosting capacity by seven times, Vaccaro said. The farm now produces enough power for about 10,000 homes.

One of the biggest risks of these projects is that they will be delayed because of poor planning rules or uncertainy over government subsidies, the executive said.

Total funds entrusted to the bank, including deposits and investment funds, rose 17 percent last year, the annual report said. Net profit jumped 46 percent to 9 million euros.

The bank seeks consistent, rather than fast, growth, Vaccaro said today by phone. ``We don't have any exposure to sub-prime'' mortgage markets, he said. ``We are based in the real economy.''

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