If you’re looking for financial yields, follow the sun!
The U.S. solar market had its biggest year ever in 2016! The booming industry nearly doubled its previous record, adding more electric generating capacity than any other source of energy for the first time ever. This puts the U.S. on track to triple its solar installations in the next 5 years.
This continued growth supports the argument that the solar industry is evolving past the emerging market stage. Investors are beginning to look at solar projects as an asset class that can provide them with long-term yield, with additional benefits like capital appreciation.
The industry’s emergence comes at a unique time in the market. The Dow Jones may have tripled since it bottomed out during the financial crisis eight years ago, but according to the Wall Street Journal, investors are not seeing relief on deposit certificates or municipal bonds due to low interest rates. As a result, many investors are forced to seek high risk investments from the highly volatile stock market. In the current investment climate, solar power (and wind) can also provide much needed diversification for an investment portfolio with a predictable long term yield.
As the solar industry has matured, we have seen a decline in costs fueled by a number of factors. In addition, the trimming of costs along the supply chain has helped cut risk premiums on bank loans, and has pushed manufacturing capacity to record levels. By 2025, solar may be cheaper than coal as an energy source on average globally, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Better technology, economies of scale, and better manufacturing have been key in boosting the industry as each generation of solar panels provide more cost effective and efficient systems. The trends are clear, solar is getting cheaper at an accelerating rate.
Stable and predictable policies have also been driving down costs. President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 with tremendous bipartisan support and ushered in solar, along with other renewables. It established the Section 48 Investment Tax Credit (ITC), providing a lucrative 30% tax credit for solar projects. Over the course of the next few years, other policies aligned at the state level, and then a combination of the ITC and appropriate technology advancements mentioned above bolstered the solar industry, while driving down costs. Even in an unstable federal policy environment we face today, it is the continuation of state level policies and low costs that will secure the growth.
The Solar Energy Industry Association and GTM Research released their Solar Market Insights Market Report earlier this month. The record year of the non-residential solar market is a prime example of untapped opportunities .
With one megawatt of solar capacity coming online every 36 minutes in 2016, operating solar assets are ripe for investment.
The non-residential market’s record year of 1,586 MW, represents 49% growth over 2015. The market surged on the back of community solar projects and large corporate procurements. This growing segment of the solar market represents a new opportunity for investment. These new projects represent a growing asset class that offers real yields. Currently these lucrative investments remain out of reach for most Americans.
Companies like Wal-Mart, Google, and Prologis are already capitalizing on clean energy investing and are setting significant sustainability goals like utilizing 100% renewable energy for their operations. Google is on track to reach this goal in 2017, while receiving serious cost savings along the way. Prologis reported in 2015 that it has over 149 MW of solar generating capacity. Investing in projects that have credit rated commercial and industrial partners like these should be prime opportunity for risk averse yield seeking investors.
CleanCapital is embracing this previously untapped asset class and expanding the clean energy finance market by allowing more people to have access to these lucrative investments.
Our platform is breaking down the biggest barriers stifling clean energy investing, by making the process simple, safe and secure. By eliminating typical transaction barriers and making capital more accessible, we’re accelerating clean energy growth worldwide.