5 Minutes With: JLEN’s Chris Holmes

Chris Holmes, manager of investment trust JLEN Environmental Asset Group, talks about bio-gas plants and his dedication for cycling 

Annalisa Esposito 29 November, 2019 | 11:15AM
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Chris Holmes

Chris Holmes co-leads the JLEN Environmental Asset Group (JLEN) with Chris Tanner. He has been investing in infrastructure investing and renewable energy projects for more than 22 years. 

JLEN is an environmental infrastructure investment company involved in projects that utilise natural or waste resources or those that support more environmentally-friendly approaches to economic activity. Examples include wind and solar farms and waste management projects. The trust has delivered annualised returns of 8.8% over three years and is up 19% over the past 12 months.

What does the trust do?

Invests in environmental infrastructure projects. That can include a wide range of technologies but it has a bias towards inflation-linked cash flows and revenues that are backed up by long-term contracts and stable subsidies.

What are the main opportunities?

We have a pretty broad mandate. I find bioenergy very interesting – we’ve been acquiring a number of biogas plants that produce renewable gas that can be used to heat homes and businesses. Another great opportunity is in generating energy from waste – the general drive of decarbonising our economy will present a number of opportunities in the next coming years.

…And the main challenges?

Finding projects that can provide a decent level of certainty over income. It is becoming more difficult because in many countries the government subsidies that have underpinned returns are being phased out or scrapped. 

What’s your best investment ever?

Vulcan Renewables, which is also a current position in the portfolio I am very excited about. It’s a biogas plant in Doncaster, which produces green gas that heats homes and businesses. A recent extension means we have doubled the capacity and output of the plants and we expect to contribute to heating more than 4,000 homes.

What's your worst investment?

One of our waste management plants has had difficulties adapting to some new government legislation – it highlights that a lot of uncertain things can happen during the life span of a project of 20-30 years and is a reminder to stay resilient.

If you weren’t a fund manager…

I would be a professional cyclist. Or at least I would try to be.  

What do you do in your spare time?

As you can imagine, I cycle a lot. I regularly race and represented Great Britain in a recent championship in Poland. I train every day, very early in the morning – I am often seen in Richmond Park at 5:30am.

What’s your favourite song of all time?

I am a big Muse fan. The song “Survival”, which was played at the London Olympics, carries a lot of memories for me.

What would you change about the industry?

I would like to see more transparency, to see how firms are contributing to important matters such as ESG. We do a lot in this area, for example, producing independent reports and I would like to see others do the same – more transparency would help investors to make the best decisions.

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Annalisa Esposito  is a data journalist for Morningstar.co.uk

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