The pandemic didn’t stop environmental, social, and governance (ESG) funds from growing, and in some particular cases, it’s been a boon to certain ESG subsectors like solar energy. That’s been the case with the issuance of green bonds, which could help fund more alternative energy projects like solar.
Furthermore, solar energy won’t succumb to instances of “greenwashing” where bond financing is improperly allocated to non-ESG projects.
“Solar energy industry participants, in particular, stand to benefit from issuing green bonds,” a PV Magazine report noted. “For some industries seeking to leverage investor demand for green bonds, demonstrating that proceeds will be used for ‘green’ purposes may prove difficult. Claims of ‘greenwashing,’ the practice of using funds from green bonds for non-green or tangentially green purposes, have tainted prior green bond issuers. Fortunately, existing green bond standards clearly identify solar energy projects as an eligible sector for green bond financing.”
The Climate Bonds Initiative, which sets forth sector-based criteria for green bond proceeds states that “eligible activities include projects and assets that operate or are under construction in onshore solar electricity generation facilities, wholly dedicated transmission and other supporting infrastructure for solar generation, and onshore solar thermal facilities like solar hot water systems,” according to the report.
For investors looking to capitalize on solar energy, one fund to look at is the Invesco Solar ETF (NYSEArca: TAN). TAN, which started back in 2008, seeks to track the investment results of the MAC Global Solar Energy Index, which is designed to provide exposure to companies listed on exchanges in developed markets that derive a significant amount of their revenues from the following business segments of the solar industry: solar power equipment producers including ancillary or enabling products.
In terms of broad-based exposure, investors can take look at the Xtrackers MSCI EAFE ESG Leaders Equity ETF (EASG). EASG seeks investment results that correspond generally to the performance of the MSCI EAFE ESG Leaders Index.
The fund will invest at least 80% of its total assets (but typically far more) in component securities (including depositary receipts in respect of such securities) of the underlying index. The underlying index is a capitalization-weighted index that provides exposure to companies with high ESG performance relative to their sector peers.
An additional fund to look at is the Xtrackers MSCI USA ESG Leaders Equity ETF (NYSE Arca: USSG), which has been a popular play for investors seeking exposure to socially responsible investments. USSG was developed in collaboration with Ilmarinen, Finland’s largest pension insurance company. The underlying MSCI USA ESG Leaders Index provides exposure to large- and medium-cap U.S. companies with high ESG performance relative to their sector peers.
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