|Eco-Millionaires See Boom Times Ahead |
ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
August 21, 2007
Australian entrepreneur David Scaysbrook says three things pushed up share
valuations in the wind power industry [File photo]. (Reuters: Fabrizio
Bensch)Mankind's response to climate change will shift how the world gets its
energy and is already making "green barons" out of early investors in renewable
energy, clean technologies and carbon trading.
Four entrepreneurs who are cashing in on the energy revolution say there is more
money to be made.
Australian David Scaysbrook, 43, founder of Novera Energy, made more than $7
million when he cashed in some of his shares in the wind power and landfill gas
firm he founded in 1998.
He has about 6 million worth of shares invested in Novera and carbon cutter
Camco International, which he advises.
He says three things pushed up share valuations in the wind power industry.
First, people were more worried about energy security and producing energy themselves.
Second, the cost of traditional energy sources such as oil and gas had gone up.
Third, tax breaks, subsidies and emissions caps had prompted even more
conservative investors "to finally move off their perch".
"The scale of investment to date is nothing compared to what is coming," he said.
"The ['business of green'] bubble aspect is ill-informed investors chasing
"For example, there are hundreds of firms competing for the next generation of
technology in solar panels but it won't necessarily be the best technology that wins."
Bruce Khouri, 48, co-founder of Solar Integrated Technologies based in the US,
made $US5 million by cashing in shares in the company.
He still has a $US11 million stake in the company, which makes lightweight solar
panels for commercial roofs.
He saw the opportunity while running his own industrial roofing firm.
"It hasn't been easy but we transformed an old-world roofing material into a
renewable energy technology," he said.
"It's a miracle Solar Integrated is still here but a pioneer charging across the
prairie is bound to get hit by a few arrows."
As long ago as the early 1990s, Mr Khouri saw a market for flexible solar panels
which could be laminated on to large roofs, such as warehouses.
He did not found Solar Integrated until 2001 once tax and subsidy incentives
made the market more attractive.
He says the "business of green" is not a bubble.
"For political reasons the United States has been behind others on green issues,
but once it catches up it will be a domino effect," he said.
"In 20 years they won't talk about regular roofing because it just won't exist
... there is so much rooftop real estate that is completely under-utilised.
"And 50 years from now every bit of a building that is struck by the sun will be
generating power in some way."
Pedro Moura Costa, 44, co-founder of Oxford-based EcoSecurities in the United
Kingdom, $US10 million when he sold some shares in the firm which helps convert
emission cuts into tradable carbon credits.
His remaining shares are worth about $US73 million.
"I saw the carbon market could be big business and the Kyoto Protocol confirmed
my views, but I didn't expect it to take 10 years to come into force," he said.
Mr Moura Costa was working as a forester in Malaysia when he saw the potential
for an international carbon credit market.
He spent the early 1990s advising on a project to plant trees in Borneo to
compensate for extra carbon pollution from new power plants in the Netherlands.
"It's become quite obvious we do something now or it will be an irreversible
trend with catastrophic consequences," he said.
"The only chance of it being a bubble is if we lack the political commitment to
drive emission reductions worldwide.
"If we do that we might as well forget about any environmental effort whatsoever
because climate change is hitting us hard and the trend is likely to accelerate.
"I think it's very unlikely political support will go away."
Neil Eckert, chief executive of Climate Exchange, which runs the main European
exchange for carbon trading, has shares worth about $US36 million.
He is also non-executive chairman of Trading Emissions and Econergy, both
involved in emission-cutting projects and generating revenue from carbon credits.
But despite the high paper value of his holdings in Climate Exchange, Mr Eckert
has yet to cash in.
He already made millions selling his shares in Brit Insurance, which he set up
and ran for 10 years until 2005.
He also says the "business of green" is not a bubble.
"We have the biggest opportunity to replace fossil fuel, which has a market
capitalisation of hundreds of billions of pounds, but it's vital we listen to
the scientific consensus and create a financial solution," he said.
"I believe we have a chance to meet the stated mitigation targets much quicker
than people think ... but it depends on whether people believe money can be made."