Wermuth Bets on Greens as Merkel Cools to Solar, Wind Subsidies

  • Wermuth gives record 300,000 euro investment to support party
  • Donation used to support green-energy-friendly candidates

Jochen Wermuth, who helps run private equity funds seeking climate-friendly projects, is betting on Germany’s Green Party to fight plans by Angela Merkel’s government to cut renewable-energy subsidies in Europe’s biggest economy.

Wermuth gave a 300,000 euro gift ($330,450) to the Greens, the environmental party’s largest donation ever, according to the most recent parliamentary filings required under German law. The former Deutsche Bank AG director, who founded Wermuth Asset Management GmbH, is currently seeking as much as 250 million euros for his Green Gateway Fund.

The donation is meant “to send a signal to Berlin,” Wermuth said Wednesday in a telephone interview, adding that he wants to support Green Party policies that are “making money with sustainable investments, creating jobs and protecting the environment.”

Wermuth cited the German government’s support for conventional power, along with the country’s slow expansion of electric cars, as motivating factors behind his donation. The investor wants to bolster the re-election prospects of Winfried Kretschmann, the Green Party premier in Baden-Wuerrtemberg, the southwest German state that’s home to Daimler AG and Robert Bosch GmbH. Germans vote in regional elections on March 13.

Merkel’s government has been squabbling over how to put more electric cars on German roads. She’s targeted 1 million by 2020 but just 30,000 are presently registered. Her coalition has also been seeking to slow down the expansion of solar and wind power via auctions, a policy that the Greens oppose.

Germany’s biggest parties risk short-circuiting the shift to renewables, according to Wermuth, who forecast that software-driven clean energy technologies will upend traditional industries quicker than anticipated. His company is in the process of starting another fund marketed as a vehicle for “stopping climate change profitably,” he said.

Wermuth said his concern over the direction of federal policy explains why he’s supporting Kretschmann, who he described as a savvy administrator with impeccable environmental instincts in one of Germany’s richest states.

Baden-Wuerrtemberg’s economy grew the most among all of Germany’s 16 states during the first half of 2015 while its unemployment rate was the lowest at 4 percent. According to Wermuth, Kretschmann’s tenure is evidence that environmental protection and clean-energy support aren’t harmful to economic growth.

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