Renewable energy and financial leaders share perspectives on industry growth potential

The core message coming out of the REFF-Wall Street conference session was a call for the US Government to clarify the parameters of the Department of Energy’s grant and loan programs, in order to free up private capital and stimulate the flow of financing in the industry.

This point was driven home by Matt Rogers, senior advisor to the Secretary of Energy on the Recovery Act in his keynote speech Wednesday morning.

Hosted by the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) and Euromoney Energy Events (EEE), REFF-Wall Street was held on 23-24 June 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 emphasised 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 commercialisation 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 US$4 billion per month in funding for the industry over the next two years.


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