Winners and losers in the clean technology industry

by interactive investor |

With the loss of government subsidies, tax relief and direct support, the green technology sector hasn't had it easy. David Prosser takes a look at the major players.

Winners

Centrica

Centrica is the junior partner in a mainly French consortium set to build four new nuclear reactors in Britain. The group has yet to take a final decision on the investment, amid negotiations with regulators - but with other nuclear players having walked away from the UK, the government cannot afford to lose these projects too and will bend over backwards to offer as sweet a deal as possible.

Impax Asset Management

Impax Asset Management is an Alternative Investment Market-listed boutique fund manager that specialises in environmental investment. It operates a discretionary business as well as an investment trust and a growing private equity operation. The latter, in particular, is well-placed to thrive, as even the best small clean tech businesses are forced to compete for very few sources of backing.

Schneider Electric

France's Schneider, which trades on Euronext, has become the world's leading energy management company through a series of acquisitions. Its expertise spans everything from smart grids to uninterruptible power supplies and the company now has 130,000 employees in more than 100 countries.

Losers

Solarworld

The German solar giant is the last European man standing in an industry that has been knocked for six by subsidy cuts and cut-price competition from China. It's pinning its hopes on US and European governments penalising Chinese competitors for breaching trade agreements and benefiting from illegal subsidies. But that's a long shot.

Drax Group

As the operator of Britain's largest coal-fired power station, Drax is at the eye of the climate change storm. It has been forced to make mammoth investments to convert its plants to run on biomass but still has more to do in order to maintain its market share. And new rules from the government on subsidies for biomass use have just dealt it a stinging blow.

BP

BP thought it had struck gold with the "Beyond Petroleum" tagline, but it has long since been dropped. The company has invested large sums in alternative energy with little return - it has now exited BP Solar, for example - and has been so distracted by corporate problems after its Gulf of Mexico disaster that it looks to have missed the boat. Plus it is only one oil spill away from regulatory oblivion.