The growing instability in oil markets plus the concern for the environment are at the forefront of today’s global issues. As a result, alternative sources of energy are in high demand, increasing investment in this area. The wealthy have already started tapping into opportunities to invest in environmental markets. According to India Reports, nearly 10% of HNWIs and 12% of ultra HNWIs invest in alternative energy sources.
UHNWIs get together by setting “green” common funds and venture capital firms to help start-ups developing their promising projects. For example, the American millionaire Bob Epstein did when he set up E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs), designed to bring business people who fight for environmental awareness together. Another example is Bill Gates who has been actively involved in green technology; he collaborates with Silicon Valley investor John Doerr, former national security adviser General Jim Jones and General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt to increase federal funding for cleantech R&D via the AEIC(American Energy Innovation Council).
Investors have a wide variety of alternative energy sources to invest in, including solar, hydroelectric, geothermal and ocean energy or bio-energy. Financier Jacob Rothschild and The Prince of Wales and his family have put their faith on biogas technology as they invested, alongside Sainsbury’s plc, £65 million in Tamar Energy Limited this month. The company produces energy from organic waste matter. On the other hand, some wealthy investors like Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens (who invested $10 billion to build the world’s biggest wind farm in 2008), believe that wind energy is a wiser solution. The Kirk Kristiansen family who owns Lego via Kirkbi A/S, apparently shares this view since it invested last Friday $534 million for a 32 percent stake in DONG Energy’s wind farm in Germany.
HNWIs also do their bit to protect the planet by buying environmentally friendly cars. Dean Devlin, movie producer, thinks it is “chic” to drive a hybrid car and considers it a fashion statement. The run for prestige explains why some high earning celebrities such as George Clooney and Google co-founder Larry Page are rushing to get a Tesla. They might as well soon drive the e6, an electric car produced by BYD Co Ltd, a Chinese carmaker backed by the billionaire Warren Buffet. In response to the vigorous excitement towards green high-technology, carmakers will introduce next month at the Geneva motor show prototypes with eco-friendly features such as Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV, Opel’s Ampera and Nisan’s Leaf.
Other celebrities such as Orlando Bloom and Cate Blanchett, are promoting sustainable energy by building green houses. They convert their homes into clean properties using a series of innovative processes like geothermal heating, solar panels, rainwater irrigation and air-source heat pumps (to heat the pools).
Polysolar, a cleantech start-up based in Cambridge, offers a fantastic example of how this technology is used in its soon to be launched photovoltaic house.
by Alexandra Gomolka