CleanPath, LLC is among the vanguard of firms that are stepping up to reinvigorate the solar market with private investments. On June 21, the company announced that it will invest up to $800 million in utility-scale photovoltaic projects in the U.S. over the next five years to support more than 1 gigawatt of projects.
Companies with investment facilities like CleanPath are imperative to the solar industry’s success. Formerly, there was a growing solar equity market prior to the economic meltdown of 2008. But that market crashed with the economy.
In more recent years, the Obama Administration stepped in with programs like the 1603 Treasury Grant program and the Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee programs to shore up and reinvigorate private investment in solar.
Now private organizations like CleanPath, founded by Matt Cheney and Karin Berardo, previously of MMA Renewable Ventures, which was bought by Fotowatio, are once again basking in the sun and are warming back up to the solar industry.
There are also other signs of recovery found in developing the investment funds.
“Fundraising is always challenging, and capital formation is always challenging. We were able to attract and close on capital in much less time than has become the norm in the post-recession era,” said CleanPath Managing Director John Balbach.
The company announced that it raised a $200 million, which it will use to establish two revolving facilities, one debt equity, the other a credit facility.
“We have institutional investors. They’ve asked not to divulge their identity,” Balbach said. “It allows us to invest up to $800 million.”
The funds come even as support from the federal government might wane.
“We have been recognizing that the Treasury Cash Grant may not survive,” Balbach said. He also said that the loan guarantees are not set for any renewal. “As much as we would like to see the U.S. government support solar as much as the Chinese government, it doesn’t look like you can count on that. So we’ve built a solution that is purely market based, we’re financing projects with what is purely available today.”
The company hasn’t announced any projects yet, Balbach said.
“We have a pipeline, and we intend to announce them when they’re very mature,” he said. “We look at projects on a per project basis. Whether or not there’s a federal loan guarantee, it doesn’t move it up or down. We are interested in projects that need to break free. We see ourselves as a catalyst to break through that last stage, get a solar plant in the ground and electrons moving.”
Image courtesy of NREL.