LEGO's billionaire owners are eyeing new investments in green energy

Will this be a new turning point for sustainability in the toy space?
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LEGO’s efforts in the sustainability game could be stepping up once again as the fund managing the Danish company owner’s billions eyes new investments in renewable energy.

What started five years ago as a project to cancel the toymaker’s carbon footprint is beginning to make more financial sense for Kirkbi A/S, the fund in charge of LEGO’s $16 billion in assets.

Profits from the fund’s investments in renewable energy assets more than tripled in 2017 to 398 million kroner ($66 million). Kirkbi already owns stakes in German and UK offshore wind parks, but the company is now looking to expand in to other areas of renewable energy.

“We see this as an investment area,” Soren Thorup Sorensen, Kirkbi’s chief executive officer told Energy Voice. “I am very pleased that after beginning with this back on 2012, it is starting to show up on the profit line.

“The competition for the good projects has grown a lot bigger, therefore we may also look at other technologies, including solar energy, which has now become a lot more efficient.”

Kirkbi manages the wealth of LEGO owner Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, Denamark’s second richest man. Last year, Kirkbi met its goal of matching LEGO’s energy consumption with an equivalent production of green energy, three years ahead of plan.

LEGO has been closer aligning itself with sustainability in toy manufacturing over the last number of years. Most recently it detailed its plans to start making certain LEGO components out of sugar cane and plant-based plastic.

While the move has been criticised as ‘not enough’ from some environmentalists, the move to invest more in renewable energy by its asset management team could signal a greater step in the charge for sustainability within the toy space.

Generating electricity from fossil fuels is fast becoming less economically viable as renewable energy technology drops in costs, according to a report published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

In most places, wind and solar energy will be cheaper than coal by 2023.

“We started looking very early, but looking at renewable energy today, there are many, including pension funds, who are eager to invest,” said Sorensen.

“We have now built up some expertise in this area at Kirkbi, and are now looking at whether this gives us the opportunity to make further investments.”

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