There are now more companies doing sustainable construction and renovations than there were when Cubina started out, he says, and architects, builders and contractors are aware of the importance of energy efficient buildings and the use of recycled and sustainable materials. But the changes still haven’t gone deep enough.

“The fundamentals are there,” Cubina says. “The problem is the scalability of that. We need the financial world to move the needle toward the right direction. Here’s where the EU package can be a game-changer.”

EV Chargers

Cheaper batteries, tough emissions regulation and mass production mean that by later this year some electric vehicles will cost the same as combustion models, according to BloombergNEF’s latest outlook. The trend of increasing price parity seems assured to continue, based on BNEF’s analysis. But EV chargers are still hard to find.

Electric cars will make up about 40% of all vehicles in Europe by 2030. To meet demand for charging, Europe will need to invest about $750 million in EV infrastructure per year through 2025, and more than $1 billion per year through the decade after that.
Few investors were willing to touch the sector until recently, says Javier Guerra, a Madrid-based managing partner at private equity firm Satif Group. The companies making charging stations were small and not yet profitable, and the EV trend had not yet taken off. 

Guerra became interested in the sector in 2015 and was an early investor in ChargePoint, a Californian venture that now has one of the world’s largest charging networks. “Making money out of this was complicated before, and it is complicated now if you’re looking at it from a short-term perspective,” he says.

Mass adoption of electric vehicles will change that, however. The electrification of entire company vehicle fleets is expected to be the breakthrough. The European Commission’s draft proposal suggests that it will double its planned investment in public chargers.

“It will help lower risks for many risk-averse investors, especially in the current economic situation,” Guerra says. “The key to get big players into this is to make sure the investment stops sounding like science fiction and starts making sense.”


About 25% of all natural gas burned in Europe is used to heat homes. Clean alternatives exist, but technologies such as electric heat pumps are much more expensive and not always viable in dense cities.

When David Bermingham watched a video in 2013 demonstrating the U.K.’s first commercial anaerobic digester, he saw an opportunity. The digester is “essentially a concrete cow,” Bermingham says. “Give it the right kind of feed and it will produce methane.”

Bermingham, who previously helped investors finance renewable energy projects, switched focus to become an entrepreneur himself. The plant he built in 2014 at Goring, a village 50 miles outside London, currently produces biogas for more than 4,000 homes.

Although both biogas and natural gas release carbon dioxide when burned, biogas is a lower-carbon alternative when it’s derived from farm waste or energy crops, which have absorbed carbon while growing. But it’s still more expensive than its fossil fuel cousin and won’t be able to compete on price without taking into consideration externalities such as carbon dioxide’s financial impact on the planet. Until then, government incentives such as direct subsidies remain necessary, says Meredith Annex, an analyst with BNEF. The U.K. government currently incentivizes the use of renewable heat by subsidizing biogas, among other energy sources, money Bermingham’s plant depends on.