Renewable Energy Industry Expected to be Flat in 2009, Gains Predicted in 2010; Public/Private Collaboration is Key to Growth
Hosted by the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) and Euromoney Energy Events (EEE), REFF-Wall Street is the leading national conference of over 600 top executives, developers, investors and lenders in the renewable energy industry. The event was held on June 23-24th at the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel in New York City. The event was focused on the effect of the financial crisis and economic recession on renewable energy companies and projects, speakers explored and debated the steps that need to be taken to ensure that the sector has the financing, incentives and support to thrive.
Rogers emphasized the need for the Administration to expedite the allocation of stimulus funding from the Department of Energy, but also expressed the importance of taking a measured approach to the process to ensure that a strong foundation so that these projects will be viable in the long term.
"This effort is not about the next 1, 2 or 3 years - it's about the next 20 years. We need to set up the correct infrastructure to do it right the first time around. Speed and timeliness are important, but we also need to make sure that we are supporting the best projects by administering our programs in the most efficient and effective way possible," Rogers stated. "DOE's goal in the short term is to get private capital off the sidelines and into the game. This means the Department will fund both lower risk mature technologies and higher risk innovative technologies under the Recovery Act. In the longer term, we will return to being an underwriter of higher-risk innovative technologies, plugging holes in areas such as energy efficiency and commercialization scale-up, where private capital markets have traditionally needed more support," continued Rogers.
One of the main messages that came out of the conference was the assertion that the Administration's goal of doubling investment in renewable energy in the next two years is not only realistic, but necessary, and that the final piece of the puzzle for unlocking pent-up private sector investment is the issuance of loan and grant guidance from DOE. ACORE predicts that once the government financing comes into play, it will unlock over $4 billion per month in funding for the industry over the next two years.
"We applaud the effort that the Administration is making towards relieving the bottlenecks in allocating stimulus funding for this sector," said Michael Eckhart, President of ACORE. "However, we also need to reiterate the importance of and urgency for laying out the DOE program rules and guidance as soon as possible. Without this clarification on the lay of the land, private capital investors are unable to confidently make financing decisions and the industry will remain at a standstill. We call on the President to put a 24-second shot clock on this team and hold them to it. We think they are doing fabulous work, but they need a deadline." The notion that renewable energy projects are ready to move forward was underscored by John Woolard, President and CEO of BrightSource Energy, in the discussion of his utility scale solar power complex in California. As he said, "In today's credit markets, the DOE loan guarantee and tax equity grant programs serve as valuable catalysts to encourage private capital investment. For our Ivanpah project, we originally planned to finance through a traditional private capital model. We will now be balancing our financing needs with private capital and a combination of the Federal loan guarantee and grant programs. I think it's safe to say that the entire industry is looking forward to clarification of the grant rules and expect that with issuance of grant guidance, we will see a significant increase in deal flow."
ACORE, a 501(c)(3) membership nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., is dedicated to bringing renewable energy into the mainstream of the US economy and lifestyle through research and communications programs and membership committees. ACORE's membership works in all sectors of the renewable energy industries including wind power, solar energy, geothermal energy, hydropower, ocean energy, biomass, biofuels, and waste energy. ACORE provides a common platform for the wide range of interests in the renewable energy community including end users, technology companies, manufacturers, utilities, professional service firms, financial institutions, colleges and universities, associations, nonprofit organizations and government agencies. ACORE serves as a thought leadership forum through which these parties work together on common interests. ACORE co-organizes the REFF-Wall Street and REFF-West Finance Conferences, the RETECH All-Renewable Energy Conference & Exhibition, the Phase II National Policy Forum in Washington, DC, and hosts both domestic and global policy events furthering the mission of renewable energy. Additional information is available at www.acore.org.