Energy companies dominate eco-sector

Renewable energy companies continue to take the lion's share of the top spots in an economic index that measures the market value of businesses in the environmental sector.

The widely respected Impax ET50 index lists the world’s 50 largest listed companies operating in diverse areas from energy and alternative fuels to waste and water.

The market value of these companies varies from US$600 million to US$8 billion.

Interestingly two of the top three companies at the end of the first quarter of 2006 are based in the growing economic powerhouses of India and China.

Indian wind company Suzlon is the world’s most valuable listed environmental business, while Chinese solar company Suntech Power comes in at third.

Squeezed between the two is Spanish renewables outfit Acciona, a testmanet to the fact that Spain is still seen by investors as the most attractive place to put cash into alternative power sources (see related story).

A company working outside the energy sector does not get a look in until number eight, where US water business Pentair makes an appearance.

Looked at as a whole, the makeup of the index sees energy companies accounting for 61% and water and waste companies account for 21% and 19% respectively.

Bruce Jenkyn-Jones, director of investments at Impax Asset Management, said: “Over the last three years water, waste and energy companies have each accounted for about a third of the index.

“The analysis we produce today shows alternative energy taking the lion’s share. This is confirmation of the growing investor appetite for alternative energy companies.

“The position of Suzlon is a good reminder, if we needed one, that the alternative energy economy is not confined to OECD countries. With one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, India and its neighbouring economies provide a growing market for wind power. The same could be said of Suntech Power in China.”

“This is the first time Acciona has entered the index. Their evolution from a Spanish construction company to one developing a range of renewable energy projects and technologies reflects the growing appeal of the alternative energy economy.”

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