At the Renewable Energy Finance Forum-Wall Street (REFF-Wall Street), hosted by the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) and Euromoney Seminars, financial, policy and industry leaders gathered to explore heightened demand for clean energy financing covering a range of opportunities from community-scale renewable energy projects to energy storage to new utility business models.
This year’s conference featured more than 60 high-profile speakers and experts in the growing renewable energy industry, along with over 600 delegates including CEOs, lenders, investment bankers, private equity investors, venture capitalists, lawyers and other top transactional professionals from both the public and private sectors.
“As we mark the 12th year of REFF-Wall Street, we showed that what we used to call ‘alternative energy’ has now entered the mainstream — in a big way,” said Dan Reicher, Interim President and CEO of ACORE, and the Executive Director of the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy & Finance at Stanford University. “And while the policy playing field is tricky right now, savvy investors are finding smart paths across it.”
Lower cost of capital was a dominant theme this year, driving down development costs and fueling interest for a wide range of investors, from public equity investors seeking the stability of a yieldco or commercial lenders who are now enabled to make better informed decisions. However, not every development in the renewable energy industry this year is about market maturity. REFF highlighted many states, most notably New York, California, and Hawaii, for leadership in rethinking traditional utility and energy business models. State policymakers and private sector partners are looking for ways to combine technology and policy innovation that will drive new business models, enabling the deployment of smart grid technologies to drive improved efficiency, reliability and the deployment of distributed renewable energy resources.
“Governor Cuomo’s new energy initiative Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), is spurring clean energy innovation and private investment to build a healthier and stronger economy,” said Richard Kauffman, Chairman of Energy and Finance for New York State. “REFF-Wall Street encourages a dialogue among the renewable energy financing community and advances the progress of REV through critical public-private partnerships supporting economic growth, job creation, and environmental protection.
At this year’s REFF-Wall Street, several speakers including Richard Kauffman during his keynote remarks, explored how the increasing shift toward a decentralized, digitized and consumer-centric model is poised to unleash a new wave of private or market-based investment. In addition to this industry transformation, many of the speakers and sessions analyzed the explosive growth of renewable energy as a strong asset class with an expanding field of investors. A timely illustration of market enthusiasm came just one day before REFF-Wall Street, when REFF Co-chair Ira Ehrenpreis of DBL Partners, announced the firm’s closing of DBL Partners III — a $400 million impact fund focused on investments that combine value and values. The fund is among the largest clean tech venture funds raised in the past several years.