Posts

This Earth Day, it’s time to do battle for the planet

Aerial image of the sky reflected in a South Dakota Prairie Pot-Hole.

Since the first Earth Day nearly 50 years ago, this day has served as a celebration of the environment and a reminder of our shared responsibility to protect it. Working in sustainability and clean energy for the past decade, I’ve seen how awareness of our collective environmental impact has dramatically grown. Action, however, has been slower to come. Today, we are already witnessing the impacts of climate change and live under the increasingly ominous cloud of predictions coming from scientists like those at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who warn of disaster as early as 2040 if our inaction continues.

Shifting attitudes

Whether it’s because people are growing frustrated with the baffling lack of action on the federal level, or because more of us are seeing the impacts of climate change firsthand, Americans are signaling that they’re ready to do battle to protect the planet. A recent study by the Yale Climate Communications program found that the proportion of Americans who are alarmed by global warming and would place it among the country’s highest priorities has increased dramatically in the last five years.

Listen to our podcast with Anthony Leiserowitz, Director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

Progressive policies

On the positive side, consequential initiatives are underway at the state and local level to curb emissions and encourage clean energy innovation. Eleven states, plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, have introduced or enacted 100% renewable energy targets; more than 100 U.S. cities, including Chicago, are also answering the call. And just last week, CleanCapital’s home base of New York City passed a Green New Deal package that “aims to enact the largest carbon reduction measures of any city globally”.

Taking the initiative

Progress is happening, but we must truly step up and scale solutions to set a path towards a sustainable future. On this Earth Day, please consider what actions you can take on a personal, professional, and political level to combat climate change. To help support policy initiatives that will speed our national transition to clean energy, consider a donation to our friends at Vote Solar, a non-profit that defends and expands solar progress for families, businesses, & communities across the country.

CleanCapital Announces New Investment from BlackRock’s Renewable Power Group

NEW YORK – April 2, 2019 – CleanCapital, an industry-leading clean energy investment platform, announced today a new investment in the firm from funds managed by BlackRock’s Renewable Power Group, which bolsters the ability of the two firms to invest together in clean energy projects.

The investment provides for the continued growth of CleanCapital as it expands into new markets and new renewable energy asset classes, with a specific focus on distributed solar and energy storage.

“The investment from BlackRock’s Renewable Power Group will accelerate CleanCapital’s investment in clean energy, allowing us to enter new asset classes, like energy storage, and expand into new markets. With this investment, we will continue to build out our portfolio and do what we do best: use our proprietary underwriting tools and software to quickly evaluate assets and efficiently close acquisitions,” said Thomas Byrne, CEO and co-founder of CleanCapital.

The latest transaction marks a deepening of the relationship between CleanCapital and BlackRock after the two firms closed on CleanCapital’s largest transaction to-date in November, the acquisition of a 46.9 megawatt portfolio of 60 operating solar energy projects.

“As the clean energy space evolves, the distributed generation sector is expanding and plays an increasingly important role in the U.S. energy transition,” said Martin Torres, Head of the Americas for the Renewable Power Group at BlackRock. “This partnership allows us to access CleanCapital’s platform capabilities as we seek to invest in the assets meeting the demand for clean energy while delivering value to our clients.”

Launched in 2015 by co-founders Thomas Byrne, Jon Powers, and Marc Garrett, CleanCapital today owns and manages $300 million of distributed operating solar energy assets in the United States, with a combined capacity of more than 100 MW. The firm owns and operates 108 solar energy systems in 11 states, ranging in size from 25 kW to 12.6 MW.

About CleanCapital

CleanCapital is an industry-leading clean energy investment platform. Its mission is to accelerate investment in renewable energy to address the urgent threat of climate change. CleanCapital’s leading edge technology platform facilitates the evaluation and acquisition of clean energy assets with speed and certainty. Since 2015, CleanCapital has leveraged investments from BlackRock, CarVal Investors, John Hancock, and other partners to acquire more than $300M of distributed operating solar assets. Learn more at cleancapital.com | Twitter: @cleancapital_ | LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/cleancapital/

Why Diversify? It Reduces Our Risk

Clearway Energy announced today that it will significantly reduce its quarterly dividend “to proactively maintain balance sheet and capital allocation flexibility during this period of uncertainty with one of Clearway’s largest customers.”

The customer in question is PG&E, which declared bankruptcy on January 29. The uncertainty is regarding the status of its long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) contracts. PG&E’s bankruptcy filing automatically triggered default, and the long-term fate of those contracts is an open question. Jarring events like bankruptcy happen from time to time in every industry, but today’s news underscores the risk sometimes associated with concentrated investments.

While the ultimate financial impact of PG&E’s bankruptcy on Clearway Energy and other PPA counterparties—if it impacts those companies at all—will not be known for some time, the magnitude of exposure to risk here is clear. At CleanCapital, a highly diversified acquisition strategy is our way of ensuring that we’re insulated from all types of “event risk”. We own and manage a broad spectrum of small-scale solar projects representing a wide range of geographies, a multitude of off-takers, and various types of contracted revenue. This diversification gives debt and equity providers comfort that the negative impact of any solitary issue will be limited and contained.

Diversification is a tactic designed to minimize risk and optimize returns; investing in distributed assets is one strategy to achieve that objective in renewable energy markets. I guess we’re putting a slight twist on the old adage: ”Don’t put all your electrons in one basket.”

For more insight on how PG&E’s bankruptcy is changing the energy investment landscape, read Four Challenges that will Shape Electric Utilities this Decade from Derek Daly, Director of Investments & Capital Markets for CleanCapital.