Lego owners plough $530m into offshore wind turbines

The parent company of toy firm Lego has announced it is to buy a 32 per cent stake in one of Germany’s largest offshore wind farms, in a move designed to bolster the firm’s green credentials.

Kirkbi A/S, the family firm that also holds a 75 per cent stake in Lego, confirmed yesterday it will shell out 3bn Danish krona ($534m) to acquire almost a third of Dong Energy’s 277MW Borkum Riffgrund 1 wind farm, which is expected to be operational by 2015.

Lego said the investment would allow the company to single-handedly meet its target of ensuring 100 per cent of its energy comes from renewable sources by 2020.

According to the reports, the firm could also use its stake in the 77-turbine wind farm and access to the electricity it generates to carry a label on its popular toys, such as the recently launched WindMade certification, demonstrating that its products have been made using renewable energy.

“One of our fundamental values is to enable future generations of children to grow up in a better world,” said Lego Group chief executive Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, in a statement.

“We do that first and foremost through our play materials – but also by improving the safety of our employees, improving the energy efficiency of our production, and reducing the volume of waste. In the field of renewable energy our objective is an ambitious one – and I am very pleased at this time to be able to announce this investment.”

The investment is part of a growing trend for corporates to invest directly in large scale renewable energy projects. Companies such as Google, BT and Ikea have all announced major investment plans in their own renewable energy projects, and analysts are predicting that the trend is likely to continue as blue chip firms look to improve their access to renewable energy sources.

The acquisition also forms part of a wider green initiative from Lego that has seen the company commit to improving its energy efficiency by five per cent a year through to 2020.

“This massive investment in wind energy is not a one-off event – it is an integral part of our overall ambition of making a positive impact on the world,” said Knudstorp.

In related news, a major new report from Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University has warned that plans for a fleet of US offshore wind farms could be undermined by the threat posed by hurricanes.

The study, published in the National Academy of Sciences PNAS magazine, modelled the likely impact of Category 3 hurricanes on potential shallow water offshore wind farm sites along the eastern seaboard and Gulf coast, concluding that a significant number of turbines could be damaged.

It advises that developers and policy makers need to be aware of the risks presented by storm damage and warns that turbines may have to be designed to be more resilient, particularly given most models are currently designed to cope with European weather conditions.

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