Boss of Norway’s fund giant to steer US$10.7bn green energy splurge from London

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email
Named NBIM's CEO in 2008, Yngve Slyngstad will step down and move to London to oversee the fund's new green energy push. Image credit: Norges Bank / Flickr

The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund will tap its outgoing boss to lead a new campaign to invest billions of dollars in green energy in the space of a few years.

Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) is to use its trillion-plus-dollar pot of oil wealth money to inject 100 billion Norwegian crowns (US$10.7 billion) into unlisted renewable projects by 2022, CEO Yngve Slyngstad said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Contacted by PV Tech today, a NBIM spokesperson confirmed recent reports that it will be Slyngstad himself – CEO since 2008 but set to step down this year – who steers the green energy push, relocating from Oslo to London to coordinate efforts.

Known under the GPFG moniker, the NBIM’s oil wealth fund holds assets of 10 trillion Norwegian crowns (US$1.09 trillion). Initially, the fund was legally barred from backing unlisted renewables but Norway’s government lifted the ban last autumn, in line with plans first unveiled last April.

Approached this week, the NBIM spokesperson explained the fund has yet to make its first investment in a non-listed renewable asset. According to them, further details on the locations and sizes of the solar and wind projects the fund will target will be revealed “at a later point”.

As PV Tech noted last April, however, exposure to unlisted renewables will initially be limited to developed markets and capped at 2% of the fund’s assets. This week, in statements echoed by ReutersSlyngstad said the fund will first look at Europe and North America. 

Backer of solar makers goes downstream as PV costs plummet

The arrival of one of the world’s most deep-pocketed funds to unlisted solar comes as the industry becomes a popular target for private players. From BlackRock to Google, financial and corporate giants are being drawn by plummeting PV costs, helping firms deploy on a subsidy-free basis.

Government speeches from last year indicate economics, not ethics, remain the key driver behind GPFG’s opening to unlisted renewables. Last April, then-Finance minister Siv Jensen said: “[It] is not a climate policy measure, but is a part of the investment strategy for the fund.” 

The fund – whose self-styled mission is to safeguard Norway’s wealth for when the “oil runs out” – counts with expert advice on how to make a financial success of its green energy campaign. Published in late 2018, a report from McKinsey & Company laid out the scale of the opportunity.

Commissioned by Norway’s Finance Ministry, the analysis claimed unlisted projects will represent 70% of the investable renewable market between 2018 and 2030, most of it solar and in Asia. PV and wind, McKinsey said, can be reputationally and environmentally safer than other renewables.

The report did have some caveats for solar, however. The document flagged environmental risks – including the decommissioning of panels containing toxic cadmium – as well as regulatory challenges, noting that the industry is like wind “particularly exposed” to policy U-turns.

GPFG’s aperture to downstream solar follows its efforts over the years to build stakes in PV manufacturers. A glance at the fund’s current portfolio shows it owns stakes in SolarEdge Technologies (3.45%), Canadian Solar (2%), JinkoSolar (2%), First Solar (1.6%) and others.

See here for more information on GPFG's current solar portfolio

Read Next

May 5, 2021
Europe’s solar industry has lauded the inclusion of a commitment to "re-ignite" Europe's solar manufacturing sector within the European Commission’s refreshed industrial strategy.
PV Tech Premium
May 3, 2021
Companies are purchasing solar, wind, and other forms of renewable energy more than ever before. The power purchase agreement (PPA) market in Europe has grown to a cumulative capacity of over 12GW, with a record 4GW signed in 2020. Corporate climate commitments are opening doors for investment in renewable energy, and continued price declines are convincing companies to sign new contracts. Is the European market ready to fulfil its potential? By Dr. Mercè Labordena, senior policy advisor at SolarPower Europe, and Milena Koot, communications advisor at SolarPower Europe
April 28, 2021
Renewable energy group BayWa r.e. has opened what it claims is its largest PV warehouse in Europe yet in a bid to expand its distribution network in the continent.
April 26, 2021
Solar developer ACWA Power has secured a total US$114 million from financial institutions to fund the construction of what it claims will be Egypt’s largest private solar plant.
April 23, 2021
Despite dozens of net-zero targets being announced and deployment of renewable energy ramping up globally over the past year, just 10% of countries have shown “steady and consistent” progress in their energy transition plans, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum (WEF).
PV Tech Premium
April 20, 2021
New technologies are increasingly being used to enhance solar project economics and boost gains, however the application and modelling of these technologies remains uncertain. This exclusive recording from Solar Finance & Investment Europe sheds a light on those areas.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
May 11, 2021
Upcoming Webinars
May 26, 2021
Session 1 - 7:00 AM (BST) | Session 2 - 5:00 PM (BST)
Solar Media Events
June 15, 2021
Solar Media Events
July 6, 2021