August 23, 2006
Investment rose from from USD 30 billion in 2004 to USD 38 billion in 2005. A REN21 report estimates that at least 85 renewable energy companies or divisions have market valuations greater than USD 40 million, up from 60 companies or divisions in 2004. The estimated total market valuation of companies in this category is USD 50 billion, double the 2004 estimate, as several high-profile initial public offerings have recently taken place. The solar PV industry invested record amounts in new plant and equipment (about USD 6 billion), as did the biofuels industry (more than USD 1 billion).
In the last year there were many new policies adopted to support renewable energy, and several more were extended, revised, or discussed. Not only were the EU and US active, but more than 16 developing countries as well, including Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico, Thailand, and Uganda.
A number of countries dramatically stepped up targets and mandates for biofuels – ethanol and biodiesel mixed with conventional fuels. The number of countries with “feed-in” policies for the purchase of power from renewable sources increased to 41, and the number of countries with future targets for the share of energy from renewables increased to at least 49.
April 13, 2006
Clearly it is important for EP banks to turn away projects that are unsuitable on environmental and social grounds, as this is an important function of the Equator Principles. Equally, Financial Institutions should not be pressurised into avoiding all high risk projects, it needs to be recognised that in some cases banks with a reasonable appetite for risk can work with their clients to build capacity and transform unsuitable projects into environmentally and socially acceptable ones, and that this transfer of knowledge can have longer term benefits.
Dutch banking giant ING announced that its participation in the 1.7 billion USD controversial paper mill project of Finnish company Botnia in Uruguay "is no longer under consideration". The paper mill has been strongly criticized in Uruguay and Argentina for its severe negative environmental impacts. The ING Group had an advisory role to the company and was to arrange a USD 480 million loan package from private banks for the project.
"The paper mill is exactly the sort of project that should not pass the Equator Principles test. At a time when major banks debate a revision of the Equator Principles it is a very welcome signal that ING took its social and environmental responsibilities seriously" said Johan Frijns, coordinator of BankTrack.