London — If you ever needed convincing there’s money to be made investing in renewable-energy companies, just look at the best performer this year on Europe’s main utilities index. As a torrid year for global markets draws to a close, Verbund almost tripled in value in 2018 and is beating all of its 27 peers to the top spot on the STOXX 600 Utilities Index. The Austrian utility has, to a large extent, built its business on a simple but very profitable strategy: buy cheap electricity in the night, use it to pump water up the Alps, and release it through turbines during the day when prices are higher. Other winners include Ørsted, which, in just a few years has transformed itself from Denmark’s national oil and gas behemoth into a nimble, publicly-traded company specialising in erecting giant wind turbines offshore. Fossil-free power producers Électricité de France and Finland’s Fortum Oyj also advanced, gaining 30% and 15%, respectively. Part of the reason why these companies have do...

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