The Role of Institutional Investors in Financing Clean Energy
Decarbonising the world?s energy system, moving towards a resource efficient economy and providing energy access for all will require doubling existing investment levels to around USD 2 trillion a year or 2% of GDP. Governments understand that large sums of capital will be required, and many are also realising the need for further recourse to private capital as public finances have become strained in many developed countries. Simultaneously, banking sector provision of long-term finance has become tighter due deleveraging and new financial regulations. With their USD 71 trillion in assets, institutional investors potentially have an important role to play. Given the current low interest rate environment and weak economic growth prospects in many OECD countries, institutional investors are increasingly looking for real asset classes which can deliver steady, preferably inflation-linked, income streams with low correlations to the returns of other investments. Clean energy projects may combine these sought-after characteristics. Yet – outside the major pension funds and insurance companies – institutional investor allocations to clean energy projects remain limited, particularly when it comes to the types of direct investment which can help close the financing gap. Reasons for institutional investor hesitancy include a lack of information and expertise when it comes to the type of direct infrastructure investment required to finance clean energy projects, and a potentially unsupportive regulatory backdrop. These problems are compounded by a lack of suitable investment vehicles providing the risk/return profile that institutional investors need to manage the risks specific to clean energy projects. There are many species of risk, including regulatory risk stemming from a lack of clarity in terms of environmental and climate policy, and retroactive changes to support mechanisms. Progress is being made – with investor groups coming together to use their scale and build their expertise in clean energy investment. From the public and private sectors, actions are underway to scale up green bond offerings, create risk-mitigating public finance mechanisms and co-investment funding structures. These initiatives need to be encouraged, carefully monitored, and expanded where successful.
|Date of creation:||24 Sep 2012|
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