Climate Change Capital founder reveals plan for green energy mega corp

July 21, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

James Cameron, the founder of Climate Change Capital and one of the UK’s leading advocates for green economic growth, has revealed ambitious plans to establish a giant clean energy company capable of raising the billions in capital needed to drive the transition to a low carbon economy.

Speaking to BusinessGreen to mark his winning the BusinessGreen Leader of the Year Award, Cameron revealed he was working with a number of colleagues on plans for a major new enterprise.

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“One of the things I am very interested on working on now with my colleagues is building a substantial pure play renewable energy company,” he said. “You can imagine something sitting high up in the index that could attract tracker money or raise debt cheaply and build out large scale infrastructure like offshore wind without being a small part of a larger company.”

He refused to be drawn on how advanced the plans were or what his involvement might be, but he argued there was a strong economic case for a GE-style conglomerate focused solely on green technologies.

“We need larger scale pure play [clean energy] investment opportunities for institutional investors to be comfortable with if we want them to shift away from the incumbents,” he argued, adding that such an enterprise would support an entire ecosystem of smaller clean tech innovators.

“The kind of enterprise that I’m envisaging would be a natural acquirer of smaller businesses that would innovate around it. Whereas many clean tech pioneers don’t like the idea of selling to a big incumbent they might not mind selling to a much bigger pure play. You can create a virtuous cycle, a natural exit for an entrepreneur building a business in this space, much like Cisco has done in the networks business.”

He revealed that the group working on idea had met with many of the leading players in the UK’s offshore wind industry, including the Crown Estate, the government and institutional investors.

But he counselled that the putative mega-corporation may not end up being developed in the UK. “We shouldn’t assume that the next global player is going to come from our market, it could start in India or China or Turkey,” he said. “And let’s not assume it is going to come out of the energy industry, it might come out of the telco industry or the internet world. Look at the resources available to an Apple or a Google or a Cisco.”

He also argued that existing players in the energy market were unlikely to mobilise the level of investment needed to drive a rapid transition to a low carbon economy.

“They are partially committed,” he said. “But I would prefer to see them either spin out [their green arms] or transform themselves properly from within, and I don’t see much evidence of the later. If you want to a bit of a change around the edge, fine, but if you want to build highly efficient and, for want of a better phrase, green infrastructure, if you want to make resource efficiency the key to economic development, and if you want to do something about climate change in a 20 year timeframe, you need a transformation. It is not OK to do a little bit around the edge.”

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