By Leonora Walet
HONG KONG, Feb 29 (Reuters) - U.K. investment firm Sustainable Development Capital LLP plans to raise more than $500 million to invest over the next two to three years in specialist funds and companies involved in environmental projects in Asia, its chief executive said.
The London-based investment and advisory company will tap pension funds, private equity firms and wealthy individuals for investments. The firm will fund projects dealing with water treatment, sustainable land management and low-carbon transport systems, chief executive Jonathan Maxwell told Reuters.
The firm will also seek equity and debt financing to develop $100 million worth of projects in Asia designed to improve energy and resource efficiency, he said.
"We view energy efficiency as the largest source of clean energy and greenhouse gas emission cuts and almost certainly the most profitable source of clean energy that doesn't require massive state subsidies," said Maxwell, referring to wind farms or solar projects that need state perks to be profitable.
Energy efficiency, or projects that save energy through measures such as better building or improved equipment at factories, is a core focus for the firm. Sustainable Development forecasts that Asia will need more than $100 billion in annual investments to boost energy schemes at commercial buildings and industries.
The firm will develop energy efficiency projects through its newly formed 50-50 joint venture in Hong Kong with First Eastern Investment Group, which has invested in several infrastructure and financial projects in China, Maxwell said.
Retrofitting buildings and factories saves property owners millions in utility bills and can have a payback period of within three to five years, he said.
Companies that will benefit from the growing trend in energy efficiency are providers of intelligent controls and equipment such as Johnson Controls, Siemens AG, Schneider Electric, and Honeywell International , said Maxwell, adding that his firm works with these companies in various projects.