Some already established companies are proving to be particularly adept change artists, capitalizing on the green and clean tech trends to craft and carry out corporate strategies that transform their organizations from the top-down and from the bottom-up. Many are found in Europe, where new EU laws and regulation are establishing new ground rules for the energy and power industries.
Ireland’s NTR – up until 2002 known as National Toll Roads – was best known as the operator of Ireland’s West-Link and East-Link toll bridges in Dublin and the North-Link toll motorway on the M1. That was then. Under the helm of CEO Jim Barry and founding director Tom Roche, it has since transformed itself into a leading player in the renewable energy, sustainable waste and environmental management and infrastructure markets, not only in the Irish Republic but in the U.K., Europe and North America as well.
Wind, Earth, Water and Waste
Management’s focus on public-private partnerships and renewable energy, integrated waste management and infrastructure has certainly been timely and borne fruit. As part of newly devised clean energy strategy NTR in 2006 stated its intention to invest some Euro 3 billion (US$4.2 billion) over the next three years in its three core business units: wind power developer Airtricity, integrated waste management systems provider Greenstar, and sustainable biofuels/bioenergy company Bioverda. In addition, NTR also owns wireless network provider Irish Broadband and a 50% interest in Celtic Anglian Water, a leading player in Ireland’s water and wastewater services industry.
Events subsequent have put those plans up for revision, however. Management sold Airtricity’s North American business to German utility E.ON for US$1.4 billion in October and in early January concluded an agreement to sell its remaining European and international business to Scottish and Southern Energy for another US$2.7 billion.
The outsized returns generated by selling off its entire wind energy business should go a long way towards realizing a reformulated management strategy focused currently on its Greenstar and Bioverda subsidiaries, both of which have been expanding aggressively.
Greenstar North America is now one of the largest recyclers on the continent, processing more than 1.1 million tons of waste each year and generating more than US$200 million in revenue.
Acquisitions have included Pennsylvania-based Recycle Management and Todd Heller, Delta Management in Illinois, Iowa’s Mid-America Recycling and Damato Paperstock Corp., the largest residential recycler in Passaic County, New Jersey. Mid-America has 12 material recycling facilities operating in six central U.S. states and handles more than 750,000 tons per year.
NTR’s Bioverda business unit, in a joint venture with Virgin Fuels, is building ethanol plants in Obion, Tennessee (Ethanol Grain Processors LLC) and in Blufton, Indiana (Indiana Bioenergy LLC), as well as investing in another in the Republic of Ireland’s Cork Harbor.
The company entered the U.K. market last May with the purchase of a majority shareholding in Tees Valley Biofuels, which plans to build and operate a large-scale biofuels facility in northeast England which intends to use locally supplied rapeseed via partnerships with local cooperatives that can be used to meet the fuel blending requirements of the U.K. Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, which comes into effect in April 2008.
Bioverda is also expanding its bioenergy business, focusing on landfill gas (LFG) utilization, another market segment with promising prospects in the U.S. Last April, it acquired Irish Power Systems Ltd., a landfill gas (LFG) utilization company that operates plants in Ireland that generate more than 20MW of electricity. Renamed Bioverda Power Systems Ltd, the company has since installed an additional 2MW of plant capacity and has received planning permission for a further 3.6MW.