Environment, February 14: Pension–backed low carbon VC fund to liquidate portfolio

Key news in environmental investing

Low Carbon Accelerator, the AIM-listed low-carbon venture capital fund whose investors include the Derbyshire County Council and the South Yorkshire Pension Fund, says it has decided to make “planned realisations” to deliver liquidity to shareholders. It will continue to support portfolio companies but won’t make any new investments. It follows a 53.3% decline in net asset value in the year to the end of November 2011. Link

SAM, the sustainable investment boutique, has disclosed a 6.53% stake in alternative fuels company Fuel Systems Solutions. The California-based company offers gaseous fuel technology for propane (LPG) and natural gas (CNG).

The Irish government has included forest carbon credits in new tax legislation as part of efforts to become a green financial centre. The Finance Bill 2012 extends the range of tax advantaged “carbon offsets” that investment companies can buy. Paul Harris, Member of the Steering Group of the Green IFSC, which promotes a green Irish economy, said: “The change is an important contribution to the emergence of the forest carbon bond market as it provides, for the first time, a cost-efficient structure for the monetization of forest carbon credits which should prompt issuers and investors to engage with this element of the developing global low carbon economy.”

Israel Electric Corporation has reportedly issued a $500m bond in the US to buy solar energy capacity to replace gas from Egypt, reports the Climate Bonds Initiative, citing Calcalist, the Israeli newspaper.

Investec Bank has provided financing for France-based Soitec’s planned 50MW solar power plant in Touwsrivier, Western Cape, South Africa. “Investec has committed to finance the project and raise the equity to construct the plant,” Euronext-listed Soitec said. All financial arrangements are expected to be finalized by the end of the second quarter of 2012. Announcement*A consortium of 14 Icelandic pension* funds is to raise their stake in domestic geothermal energy producer HS Orka from 25% to 33.4% in a $38.5m deal. Toronto-listed renewable energy company Alterra Power will see its stake reduced from 75% to 66.6%. Link

The first draft of the Rio+20 political declaration offers “glimmers of potential” according to Nick Robins, head of HSBC’s climate change centre of excellence. “If the text is strengthened between now and June, then it could provide the foundations for shifting capital towards the green economy,” he writes in the Guardian.
Swiss bank Credit Suisse has trimmed its stake in Nasdaq-listed China Sunergy to 12.81% as at the end of last year – from 14.06% at the end of 2010, according to a filing. China Sunergy is solar cell and module manufacturer based in Nanjing.

Warren Buffet-owned MidAmerican Energy has issued a $700m senior secured 27-year project bond (BBB-) to fund its Topaz solar project. Barclays, Citi and RBS were underwriters on the bond issuance, reports Project Finance.
Canadian listed renewables investment vehicle Sprott Power Corp. and partner Firelight Infrastructure Partners have announced the installation of the last of the 15 wind turbines at their Amherst site. The project is a 31.5MW facility that will provide almost 100 GWh of renewable energy for Nova Scotia residents on an annual basis.

The European Union is expected to vote later this month on a draft law that would label fuel derived from tar sands as more polluting than other forms, according to a Reuters report.

Worldwide wind installations rose 21% in 2011, according to a report from the Global Wind Energy Council. More than 41GW of new wind energy capacity was put in place last year – taking the total to over 238GW. China has consolidated its position as global market leader, with a cumulative capacity of more than 62GW.