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If it’s not commercial, it’s not sustainable, Jonathan Maxwell likes to say.
A financial entrepreneur in the growing business of efficient energy, Maxwell creates value from wasted heat and gas. From steel mills in Indiana to olive presses in Spain and the lighting of 800 Banco Santander buildings in the UK, Maxwell’s Sustainable Development Capital Ltd. in London is one of the pioneers in financing projects that save energy by making more creative use of it.
As the drive among companies in the UK and U.S. to adapt green strategies has spiked in the past 12 to 18 months, it’s revealed special opportunities in the efficient energy space, which is larger than the renewable energy businesses of solar and wind, but can have high costs and regulatory barriers to entry.
In late 2018, Maxwell launched the SDCL Energy Efficiency Income Trust (LSE:SEIT), which is the only one of its kind on the London Stock Exchange and whose market value has tripled to 333 million pounds ($407.5 million) in the past year (including a recent, Covid-driven downturn).
More than 40% of the world’s energy is used in buildings, but more than half of that energy can be lost or wasted in poor transmission and distribution systems. And more once it’s in the building. Those losses account for about a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than any other sector. Efficient energy is the business of using that lost energy, such as heat generated from electricity, instead of wasting it.