Jan. 2018 – 5 Snippets – Clean Energy Finance Trends

Financing Microgrids
A New Model for Resilience:
  • Although end use customers own 83% of operational microgrids, in 2017 only 54% of installations were owned by on-site hosts. Said differently, 46% of last year’s new microgrids were owned by third parties seeking to benefit from resilience-as-a-service, with no upfront costs, and energy savings starting in the first month. This model is likely to contribute to the U.S. microgrid sector growing 2x by 2022. Thanks to Greentech Media for a good write up.
Energy Market Disruptor?

Or #1 Buzzword of 2018?

  • Blockchain is everywhere. When that kind of ubiquity occurs, it’s either a sign of an innovation that is here to stay, or a bored audience that needs something to be excited about. Our vote is for the former. And PwC feels the same way, “Blockchain technology has the potential to radically change energy as we know it…It enables prosumers, i.e., households that not only consume but also produce energy, to buy and sell energy directly, with a high degree of autonomy…In addition to reducing transaction costs across the system and delivering cost benefits for customers, it ensures that existing [energy] generation capacity is utilized optimally…Financial blockchain applications have already reached an astounding level of maturity.”
M&A Summary for 2017
Corporate Investment in Advanced Energy:
Who Bought? Who Got Bought?
  • If you have relatives or peers from red states who think that clean energy is for hemp-eating, patchouli-smelling, orca-loving hippies, then you should send them this GTM article and ask if multi-billion-dollar companies like Enel, Centrica, BP, Shell, Total, AES, Mitsui, and Engie fit into that same derided bucket. (Nope, I don’t have any past issues at all like this.) It’s companies like these that spent billions of dollars buying clean energy and sustainable technology companies last year because they see the writing on the wall. (Wait, what does it say?) 
Artificial Intelligence
AI for Earth:

Microsoft Commits $50M

  • Greenbiz summarizes well the intent behind Microsoft’s new “AI for Earth” initiative. — ‘”AI is helping us drive and navigate the streets better and identify faces on social media, but ‘there’s not a galvanizing force to direct those same AI technologies at critical sustainability problems,'” said Josh Henretig, senior director of environmental sustainability at Microsoft. (Hallelujah. Tech realizes there are bigger problems to solve than crushing candy.) The program provides access to cloud computing, education around AI, and grants for innovative solutions.
Investors in Lithium are Happy:
So are Downstream Battery Companies
  • A reasonable person might think that if lithium prices go up 200%, then Lord Musk of House Tesla would be crying in a pillow in a dark cold room somewhere. (Actually, that’s a pretty unreasonable image.) Instead Bloomberg’s math suggests just an 8% bump in battery prices in that scenario. In fact, battery prices fell again during 2017 despite lithium (carbonate) prices being up 24-55% and cobalt costs up 200%.  #StorageJuggernaut 


These originally appeared in Two-Bullet Tuesday, a weekly newsletter focused on clean energy, finance, business tips, trivia, and humor.

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