Green energy in Europe vies now with conventional energy: Allianz

FRANKFURT Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:15am EDT

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Renewable energy production and infrastructure are gaining investor appeal as they become less dependent on government support in more European markets, the asset management arm of insurer Allianz said on Thursday.

Allianz, Europe's biggest insurer, has been investing billions of euros of policy holder funds in renewable energy.

"These investments either offer attractive feed-in tariffs, are already at grid parity (competitive with conventional energy) or are going in that direction," Armin Sandhoevel, chief investment officer for renewables at Allianz Global Investors, told a press briefing in Frankfurt.

"That is also the future of the market, it will make it bigger and more comfortable for institutional investors."

Spanish and Italian wind or solar installations were the most advanced in terms of profitability while those in the Nordic countries, Britain, Germany, France and the Benelux would be catching up, he said.

Sandhoevel, who was touting the new Allianz renewable fund (AREF), which he manages, said that further advantages of a move to green systems were the decoupling from rising global fuel costs and proven viability of the new technologies, which ensured long-term cash flows.

Institutional investors such as pension funds were looking for a diversification away from government bonds at a time of unattractive yields, Allianz executives said.

"Renewables and infrastructure represent a good match with insurers' and pension funds' long-term obligations to policy holders," said managing director Tobias Pross.

Allianz has collected 100 million euros ($129.95 million) for the AREF fund so far, mainly from German investors in some 10 to 15 projects, and projects future yields after costs and taxes at roughly 6 percent.

The fund invests in solar and onshore wind and some biomass.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Environment Minister Peter Altmaier have been seeking ways to cut rising renewable energy support, which consumers must pay for.

While the latest efforts to trim costs failed and are unlikely to be renewed until after national elections in September, such intervention was priced in, Sandhoevel said.

Green power output in Germany last year was 136 gigawatt hours, totalling 22 percent of all power produced. ($1 = 0.7695 euros)

(Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Stephen Nisbet)

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