The years-long stampede of international capital into the US renewable energy sector has continued unabated in the first few weeks of 2021, as latecomers from around the world have finally got in on the action.
The US renewables market can be daunting for newcomers for several reasons – not least the existence of this funny tax equity stuff – but there are clear attractions, too, such as the robust, competitive project finance market and wide range of possible offtake contracts.
This provides investors with a lot of choice in terms of the balance between risk and reward, or as debut investor Greencoat Capital put it: “The fast growing US renewables market provides interesting investment opportunities, with a range of returns available from differing offtake contracting strategies.”
The British firm appears to have aimed for the “safer” end of the spectrum for its initial foray, buying a minority stake in a portfolio of contracted and mostly operational wind farms in Texas (PFR, 1/19).
A slightly bolder move, perhaps, was made by Spain’s Naturgy Energy Group, which bought a large pipeline of solar and storage projects at various stages of development from Macquarie, while Total opted for a joint venture with South Korean-owned developer 174 Power Global (PFR, 1/15).
Total has of course been involved in US renewables for many years as a shareholder of distributed solar company SunPower Corp, but the new JV is its first investment in utility-scale renewables in the country.
Moving in the opposite direction is EDP Renewables, one of the most active and established players in large-scale renewables in the US, which recently added a distributed solar development team by acquiring New York-based C2 Energy Capital’s business (PFR, 1/19).
C2, a scrappy company whose clients include high schools, churches, municipalities and Walmart, was still owned by founding principals Richard Dovere and Candice Michalowicz, rather than a venture capital or private equity fund. “There are not that many opportunities like that anymore,” says a deal watcher.
That may be true, but whatever opportunities are still out there, PFR will be aiming to track them every step of the way.