Renewable Returns Tripled Versus Fossil Fuels in Last Decade
(Bloomberg) -- Investing in renewable power stocks beat a fossil fuel-focused strategy by more than threefold in the last decade.
Superior returns from green power could help push investors to provide the capital necessary to scale up low-carbon power sources in the coming years, according to the analysis by the International Energy Agency and Imperial College Business School of hundreds of publicly-listed companies globally.
“Renewables are outperforming fossil fuels and they’re outperforming the broader market,” said Milica Fomicov, a researcher at Imperial College London who was previously a portfolio manager at BlackRock Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Researchers found renewable power investments beat fossil fuels in all regions -- globally, in developed economies and in emerging markets. They also found investing in green power to be less volatile in advanced markets than polluting-energy sources.
“We’re not seeing enough global investment in low-carbon power,” said Charles Donovan, executive director of the Centre for Climate Finance and Investment at Imperial College Business School. “Is it that it doesn’t make sense from a financial point of view? The answer is no. It clearly outperforms.”
A global portfolio of renewable power companies posted an annual average return of 18% in the decade to December 2020, compared with 4.7% for fossil-fuel stocks. The total return for renewables for the period was 426%, more than seven times the figure for fossil fuels.
While investors have increasingly sought out environment, social and governance-friendly investments like renewables, it’s not going fast enough to limit dangerous global warming. At the current pace of investment that would see $11 trillion going to green power by 2050, and the world would still warm 3.3 degrees Celsius by 2100, according to BloombergNEF.
The IEA projects annual renewable power investment will need to double to more than $600 billion a year by 2030 to meet the temperature-limiting goals of the Paris climate agreement.
One limitation of the study is that it only focused on publicly-listed companies, leaving much of the renewable power industry outside of the scope of the analysis. That could point to a missed opportunity for green energy companies to raise money from public equity markets, the researchers said.
As governments spend trillions to recover from the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, very little is going to help cut pollution. Recovery plans could do more to boost investment in renewables over fossil fuels, the study’s authors concluded.
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