On social media and at industry conventions, it is easy to find high-profile discussions on the technological revolution of electric grids. Experts on energy storage, distributed generation, and wireless options describe how emerging technologies are poised to transform the electricity sector. The hype is real. Energy companies are developing technologies at an increasingly rapid pace. But for all the attention on these new devices and expectations of market growth, there’s still no clear path to widespread adoption. As this series shows, several key barriers prevent technology adoption from keeping up with technology development.
Will utilities upgrade as they encounter new technologies or get left behind? That’s what attendees discussed at one of the final sessions at the Future of Energy Summit in New York City on April 10. When it comes to software, electric utilities are sometimes very far behind other companies.
In a dynamic discussion at the Rockefeller Institute of Government on April 18 in Albany, N.Y., financial experts explained how they “follow the puck” by observing technological and social trends as they move their funds from fossil fuels toward clean energy.
Last year was a record-breaking year for the solar asset backed securitization (ABS) market. The market not only crossed the 1-billion mark but also registered the highest securitization value in a single year. Part of this success was a result of new players such as Mosaic, Sunnova Solar Energy, and Dividend Solar Finance coming on board.
For many energy innovators, securing venture capital may seem to be an impossible challenge. Taking this issue to heart, the technology company Rho AI is exploring the power of artificial intelligence to find capital for companies in the renewable energy marketplace. Having recently earned a grant from the United States Department of Energy to create a solution called Partner AI, Rho AI is reaching its seventh month of development. Partner AI is an online artificial intelligence-based solution that will work to streamline today’s renewable energy venture capital process.
At the annual MIT Energy Conference on Mar. 2- 3 in Cambridge, Mass., practitioners and entrepreneurs gathered to discuss their views about the future of energy. Throughout the conference, experts agreed that the world is transitioning to new energy sources and the next disruption may be around the corner. The panel “Energy Financing – From Idea to Investment and Onward” focused on how the industry can think about financing innovative projects that may struggle in a highly regulated market with big players.
According to the International Energy Agency, $3.5 trillion USD of clean energy investments is needed each year through 2050 to offset the rise in carbon emissions. At the same time, an underinvestment in global infrastructure has restricted reliable access to key resources such as energy, sanitation and water. A recent study, “The Financial Performance of Real Assets Impact Investments,” conducted by Cambridge Associates and Global Impact Investing Network, shows that investments in real asset impact funds can profitably address both of these issues and help improve the livelihoods of billions of people.
In 2017, a number of companies have been working to use blockchain technology to enable alternative markets for energy trading and models for renewable energy financing. The more prominent ones include Suncontract, PowerLedger and Wepower. This may result in increased transparency for energy transactions.
How can solar financing be improved in the United States? Experts shared their vision for the future at the Green Investing Conference held by the Information Management Network (IMN) on April 27 in New York City. Attendees included energy investors, rating agencies, legal counsel, and other professionals. The opening panel, “The Green Landscape for Investing: What, When, Where and Why?” addressed both current situations and future goals.
What is hindering the availability of public capital and financing options for distributed solar? To some in structured finance, it seems like a great fit: solar assets produce reliable cash flows, backed by the good credit of customers. Those leases can be pooled and traded as liquid capital. In order to profit from this great opportunity for solar growth, investors and consumers demand standards and consistency from the industry.
To carry out a sizeable securitization of distributed generation assets, an investment-grade credit rating is necessary. But structural challenges unique to the solar asset class make this difficult to achieve. These structural challenges were the focus of a panel discussion at this year’s Asset-Backed Securities (ABS) East conference in Miami on Sept. 20-23.
The limited availability of low-cost financing is holding back market adoption of solar photovoltaics (PV). However, securitization can make project financing more affordable than it is today, according to new research from the Open Sustainability Technology Laboratory at Michigan Technological University.
What do leaders in the banking industry think about the potential of privately financing solar power, wind energy, and energy efficiency? In this interview, Michael Eckhart, managing director and global head of finance and sustainability at Citigroup, shares his optimism about the transition to clean energy and his observations about the persistent obstacles in the market – including the need to scale up financing for energy efficiency.
Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and the truSolar working group have developed a risk-screening tool targeted toward middle-market commercial solar projects. According to Jamie Mandel, manager at RMI, commercial rooftop and ground-mount systems, which can range from 10 kW to 1 MW, are not financed as often as they should be.
For the first time, researchers have examined what potential investors want from the United States clean energy bond market. The December 2014 report “What Investors Want: How to Scale-Up Demand for U.S. Clean Energy and Green Bonds” shows investors’ tastes vary widely. Offering a broad menu of options is the best response, the authors recommend.