Solar is the world’s fastest growing source of renewable energy. Here’s why one of Europe’s largest hedge funds is betting on wind instead.

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Lansdowne Partners is one of Europe’s largest investment firms, with $1.2 billion allocated towards energy alone.
While solar is the fastest growing source of renewable energy, Per Lekander, who manages Lansdowne’s energy fund, says he’s betting on wind instead.
“I should probably be more bullish on solar, but I’m not,” he told Business Insider. “I’m way more bullish on wind.”
There’s a good reason to trust him: His clean energy portfolio surged 37% last year, besting the broader stock market, according to an HSBC hedge fund report.
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Over the next five years, global renewable power capacity is expected to double, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Solar energy alone accounts for 60% of that projected growth.

That’s why it’s surprising to hear that Per Lekander, a partner at Lansdowne Partners — one of Europe’s largest hedge funds — is placing big bets on wind energy over solar.

“I should probably be more bullish on solar, but I’m not,” said Lekander, who’s been with the firm since 2014. “I’m way more bullish on wind. I think it’s my highest conviction.”

Lekander declined to share detail about the firm’s investments on the record, but he indicated that it has positions in wind companies overseas.

There might be a reason to trust his judgment: His $221 million long-only clean energy fund he manages surged 37% in 2019, besting the broader stock market, according to an HSBC hedge fund report.

So, why wind over solar?

Solar is a fragmented industry dominated by companies in China

Solar is the fastest-growing renewable energy in the world, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. In the US, it’s projected to supply nearly half of all renewable energy by 2050, up from 11% in 2017.

Lekander doesn’t deny the impending explosion of solar.

“I believe that solar is going to grow quicker than wind, at least for the next few years,” he said.

It’s easier to develop solar projects, relative to wind farms, he says. There’s not as much NIMBYism — short for “Not in my backyard.” Plus, solar is far cheaper than offshore wind, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.

But Lekander says there are a few major drawbacks. For one, he says, Chinese companies have a huge share of the market in solar manufacturing. Solar energy is also a “fragmented” industry, he says.

“There are many, many players,” he said. “I struggled to find companies which have really differentiated business models. I’m not saying I’m negative on solar — because the demand is just too strong — but it’s a commodity business for now.”

Then, there’s wind.

The wind industry is older and more consolidated

The first electricity-generating wind turbine was built in the late 1800s. Sure, it probably looked nothing like the mammoth turbines of today, but it supports Lekander’s point: The wind industry is old, and that’s given it more time …read more

Source:: Business Insider – Science

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