The global sustainable energy challenge: tapping more institutional investor support

Sustainable Energy for All
By Peyton Fleming
February 7, 2018

UNITED NATIONS – Last week’s Investor Sum­mit on Cli­mate Risk at the United Nations left lit­tle doubt that global insti­tu­tional investors are get­ting seri­ous about cli­mate change and sus­tain­able energy.

The 450-​​plus atten­dees – a mix of global banks, pen­sion funds and insur­ance giants rep­re­sent­ing a stun­ning $29 tril­lion in col­lec­tive assets – all agreed that warm­ing tem­per­a­tures are caus­ing pro­found eco­nomic harm and that achiev­ing the Paris cli­mate goals is crit­i­cal for avoid­ing big­ger losses. They’re also steer­ing more invest­ments to ever-​​cheaper renew­able energy and other low-​​carbon technologies.

Renew­able energy has become the default, not the alter­na­tive,” said Kyung-​​Ah Park, man­ag­ing direc­tor and head of envi­ron­men­tal mar­kets at Gold­man Sachs, which fore­casts $3 tril­lion of invest­ment in wind and solar projects in the next 20 years.

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Some investors are dip­ping their toes in these low-​​income coun­tries, but they are largely the excep­tion. Nancy Pfund, founder and man­ag­ing direc­tor at DBL Part­ners, a ven­ture cap­i­tal firm, talked pas­sion­ately about the oppor­tu­ni­ties in Africa. “It’s where much of the pop­u­la­tion growth is hap­pen­ing, they need a mid­dle class there and they have elec­tric­ity needs. It’s a fan­tas­tic oppor­tu­nity,” she said.

Among DBL’s invest­ments is Off-​​Grid Elec­tric, which sells dis­trib­uted solar and stor­age sys­tems in Sub-​​Saharan Africa. “We went into Cote d’Ivoire about a year ago with zero cus­tomers; 12 months later, we have 100,000 cus­tomers,” she said. “Now we’re in Ghana and are plan­ning to spread across the continent.”

To read the full arti­cle, visit Sus­tain­able Energy for All.