In an attempt to hedge against future rising energy prices, Volkswagen announced last week that it will invest up to one billion Euros (US$1.45 billion) in renewable energy.  The announcement follows the company’s decisions earlier this year to invest in other clean energy projects as well as to launch new electric vehicles.

According to the German language edition of the Financial Times, Volkswagen will become a large investor in two offshore windparks in the North Sea.  The investment accomplishes two objectives:  to help the car manufacturer meet its renewable energy goals for 2020 as well as give a boost to Germany’s flagging wind power sector.

Borkum, soon to have a wind farm as a neighbor

Borkum, soon to have a wind farm as a neighbor

While Germany has been a leader in solar energy the past decade, wind power has been a different story.  Ambitious projects to build wind power farms in the North Sea have suffered from the lack of investors who saw the proposed projects as too risky.  Volkswagen had been in talks with wind power developers for several years but had hesitated to commit to the industry.  But the moves of other companies, including the American private equity firm Blackstone, helped open the door to increased investment.  Blackstone closed a deal on one wind farm last month.  Now WV is set to invest in two wind power farms, including one 60 miles (95 kilometers) north of Bokum (pictured right), an island off of Germany’s northwestern coast.

For Volkswagen, the investment goes beyond scoring a few corporate social responsibility (CSR) points.  True, VW has pledged to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions 40 percent by 2020.  But energy security is a concern for European countries, and companies, who have been rattled by volatility in the Middle East and North Africa as well as Russia’s shutdown of its gas supplies to Europe two years ago.  And with Angela Merkel’s promise to phase out nuclear energy by 2022, the time for energy intensive firms like Volkswagen to find different sources of power is now.

To that end, the two wind energy projects to which Volkswagen has committed promise to provide about 400 megawatts of electricity of full capacity, or 40 percent of the capacity of a nuclear power plant.  The upshot is that the quest to find sources of energy to complement what currently fuels most companies’ operations will be a long, painful one on both sides of the pond.

Photo at the top of this story is of a wind farm in Neuenkirchen, Germany, courtesy Wikicommons.

Posted earlier today on Triple Pundit.

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he is a business writer and consultant. His work is has also appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He's pictured here in Qatar, one of the Middle East countries in which he takes a keen interest because of its transformation into a post-oil economy. Other areas of interest include sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). As of October 2013, he now lives and works in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.