The campaign being led by the American Council of Energy (Acore) to lock in private sector commitments of $1trn in renewable energy projects by 2030 will need to pull in investment of almost $88bn a year through to the end of the decade to meet its goal, the advocacy body said in its latest progress-tracker report on the project.
Following record levels of capital spending last year driven by phase-down schedules for US federal tax credits, expanded state renewable energy standards and sharper cost competitiveness from wind and solar, the so-called $1T 2030 initiative has so far secured $125bn, meaning there would need to be an annual increase of 28% over the 2019 investment to meet the target this decade.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic, economic recession and recent policy developments in Washington have created “near-term headwinds” for sector investment that have slowed the pace of growth in 2020 , Acore reported.
“While it’s clear we’ve made important progress toward our goal, achieving $1tr of private sector investment by 2030 will require policies that allow the renewable industry to grow through the challenges associated with the pandemic,” said Acore CEO Gregory Wetstone.
A poll carried out by Acore of its membership – which includes major developments, banks and corporate giants such as Amazon – found investors “remain optimistic about long-term renewable energy growth” despite the current obstacles.
“Fortunately, as our survey results show, the fundamental health of the sector is strong and renewable energy remains one of America’s most attractive investment options,” said Wetstone.
Among other findings from Acore’s membership survey, which looked out three years, were that:
- investors and developers report “continued confidence” in the growth of renewable energy and energy storage;
- the US remains an attractive location for investment in renewable energy compared to other leading countries;
- energy storage ranks as the “most attractive” sector for investment, followed closely by utility-scale solar and residential/commercial solar;
- majority do not expect significant long-term impacts from Covid-19 – but half of developers surveyed report “significantly changed” immediate project plans; and
- three-quarters of tax equity investors predict a decline in spending and two-thirds of developers report “difficulty” in securing financing or project off-takers due to the pandemic.
Mona Dajani, partner at US law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and an Acore board member, said: “We’re structuring and negotiating deals right now that will make renewable energy a bright spot in the recovery.
“As Acore’s 1T report says, the drivers include more demand from corporate buyers, and private sector investment in renewable energy and enabling grid technologies. They want 'in' on the tremendous growth in carbon-free energy that is still ahead of us, especially now that pricing has dramatically decreased.
She added: “Last year, three-fourths of the corporate power purchase agreements for renewable energy projects were located in the US. That is starting to shift as European corporate companies take a greater interest in direct purchasing of renewable energy too.”
Presumptive Democratic nominee in the upcoming US president election, Joe Biden, today (Tuesday) proposed spending $2trn on clean energy projects over four years and ending carbon emissions from fossil fuel-powered plants by 2035 – a step up on the 10-year, $1.7trn plan he'd platformed during the Democratic primary, which centred on achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
A “colossal” six months for offshore wind finance kept global renewable energy investment on an upward track in the first half of 2020, despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to research group BloombergNEF, with finance for wind at sea hitting $35bn in the first six months of the year, up more than four-fold on the same period in 2019 and higher than last year’s 12-month total of $31.9bn.