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.