SAN FRANCISCO, September 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The fourth annual Renewable Energy Finance Forum (REFF)-West hosted by the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) and Euromoney Energy Events in San Francisco this week brought together more than 400 investors, industry executives and policy makers for an engaging discussion on the state of the renewable energy industry, public policy, financial markets and corporate strategy in the renewable energy sector. During the two-day session, the almost 60 speakers and panelists expressed the need to develop creative financing solutions beyond subsidies to promote progress in both large and small scale renewable energy development in the United States.
A common theme echoed in the conference was the importance of renewable energy to American defense and national security. "Make no mistake: when Americans reduce our addiction to fossil fuels, we are more secure and more prosperous," said ACORE President Admiral Dennis V. McGinn. Keynote speaker Tom Steyer, Senior Managing Member, Farallon Capital Management, L.L.C., echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the improved health, quality of life, and jobs that the renewable energy industry can bring to Americans.
Speakers from leading renewable energy companies, investment institutions, nonprofits and government organizations discussed the need for consistent policies on national, state and local levels to drive renewable energy growth. Looming changes to the government loan guarantee program and the expiration of production tax credits at the end of 2012, without any clear alternatives identified to replace them, were identified as potential inhibitors to the industry.
Panelists also emphasized the need for government support of private sector research and development, calling for R&D that will enable the private sector to continue to innovate and improve U.S. Smart Grid infrastructure.
Additional topics and highlights from the conference are outlined below:
For the first time, REFF-West included a panel addressing specific challenges in financing smaller deals. Panelists from international top-tier investment institutions discussed financing options for moving smaller-scale projects forward as the industry faces an ever growing gap of demand vs. capital. Practical advice offered by the financiers included: focus on aggregation of smaller deals, and if possible, standardize small-scale transactions to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
Rick Needham, Google's Director of Green Business Operations, announced that Google will invest $75 million into a solar fund at Clean Power Finance. Clean Power Finance, a start-up solar software and financing company, will use the money to support solar rooftop projects by third party installers.
ACORE announced the launch of the REFIN Directory, an online contact database that connects suppliers of capital and expertise with industry participants engaged in the scale-up of renewable energy.
Lastly, Colonel Bob Charette discussed the U.S Marine Corps' innovative application of renewable energy technologies to military operations. Colonel Charette shared how renewable energy can increase the Marines' combat effectiveness by improving the efficiency and mobility of equipment on the battlefield. Solar power generators, among other technologies, allow the Marine Corps to maximize fuel and battery life while on mission, and reduce the need for long convoys carrying fuel. "If renewable energy is good enough for the U.S. Marine Corps in combat," says ACORE President Dennis McGinn, "it is good enough for anyone."
It's clear from the REFF-West Conference that the global financial community is strongly supporting renewable energy development in the U.S. and worldwide, but until the government continues to make investments in clean energy, the renewables industry must contend with regulatory uncertainty and political and economic challenges that can potentially hinder growth and investment in the space.
The next ACORE and Euromoney Energy Events conferences will be REFF-Latin America and Caribbean in Miami on April, 24-25, 2012 and REFF Wall-Street in New York City on June 19-20, 2012.
REFF-West is the largest renewable energy finance conference focused on West Coast energy issues. It is hosted by the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE), a nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, DC, dedicated to raising the profile of renewable energy, and Euromoney Energy Events, a London-based wholly owned subsidiary of Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC and organizer of conferences to address topical issues in the energy sector. For more information, please visit http://www.reffwest.com.