Clean Power VP Joe Biden at the Clean Energy Summit, June 16, 2015 (EPA/Michael Reynolds)

Published on June 17th, 2015 | by Sandy Dechert

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$4 Billion Just Raised From Private Sector For Clean Energy

June 17th, 2015 by  


It’s hard to keep a good man—in this case, recently bereaved Vice-President Joe Biden—down. Biden resumed official duties yesterday by hosting the Clean Energy Investment Summit at the White House. You may recall that to support the President’s Climate Action Plan, the White House launched a Clean Energy Investment Initiative in February to catalyze private-sector investment in climate change solutions, including innovative technologies with breakthrough potential to reduce carbon pollution. The summit was planned at that time. Said Biden:

“We’re announcing $4 billion in independent commitments by major foundations, institutional investors, and others to fund innovative solutions to help fight climate change, including technologies with breakthrough potential to reduce carbon pollution.”

VP Joe Biden at the Clean Energy Summit, June 16, 2015 (EPA/Michael Reynolds)

VP Joe Biden at the Clean Energy Summit, June 16, 2015 (EPA/Michael Reynolds)

Financing being an important component to success of the CAP, Biden’s announcement of the large sums already raised from hundreds of diverse organizations—for example, $500 million from the University of California, $500 million from Goldman Sachs, $350 million from the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, $200 million from the Alaska Permanent Fund, and $100 million from TIAA-CREF, as well as a large Sierra Club contribution—gives new impetus to urgent sustainability and climate change priorities.

It’s double the initial $2 billion goal set at the February launch, when the executive branch pointed out that “mission-driven investors–such as foundations, university endowments, and institutional investors–can play a catalytic role in accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy.” In pursuit of both financial returns and a climate-oriented mission, the sponsors are launching several clean energy investment alliances to connect would-be investors and clean-energy firms. The new initiative will significantly reduce the transaction costs of investing in new and developing technologies, spread promising investment models, and increase their climate mitigation impact by providing an additional source of capital for transitioning to a low-carbon economy.

With his customary wry humor, Biden added:

“To state the obvious, I’m not an investment banker [or a climate scientist, presumably]. I wouldn’t go long on investments that lead to carbon pollution. I’d bet on clean energy.”

Biden pointed out that even China was beginning to understand the escalating health effects of carbon pollution. In addition to the private capital already raised and expected to come from these efforts, there’s $7.6 billion in federal spending on clean energy in President Obama’s proposed 2016 budget.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz also officially announced the opening of the new Clean Energy Impact Investment Center:

“Ingenuity is one of our country’s greatest assets. America’s entrepreneurs and innovators have a legacy of unleashing their creativity, grit, and imagination to invent, discover, and build solutions that not only contribute to our growing economy, but also solve some of the toughest challenges facing the nation. Investing in homegrown innovation, including the development of new, clean-energy technologies, is a crucial part of the fight against climate change–and is key to keeping America on the leading edge of the world’s transition to a low-carbon economy.”

From the DOE Clean Energy Investment Center fact sheet, DOE’s goals for the new program office:

  • Single Point of Access for Information: Through dedicated, accessible internet and staff resources, the center will make information about DOE programs accessible and more understandable to the public, including to mission-driven investors.  The center may also provide connections to points of contact and subject matter experts within relevant DOE programs.
  • Technical Assistance: The center will share research and analysis produced by DOE and its National Laboratories on relevant developments in clean energy technology.  Furthermore, the center will offer a mechanism for identifying the need for new technology analysis from DOE.
  • Information on Early-Stage Projects and Companies: DOE currently has programs including the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR), and others that help to fund and accelerate emerging early-stage technology projects and companies.  The center will aggregate and make available existing, public information on entities currently engaged in partnerships with DOE.
  • Connections to Additional Relevant U.S. Government Programs: The center will include information about energy and climate programs at other government agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, National Science Foundation, Small Business Administration, and the Treasury Department.

Two other important federal actions were also announced at the summit:

  • The Treasury Department will facilitate issuance of guidance on impact investments by charitable foundations in clean energy technologies and other potentially mission-aligned sectors; and
  • The Small Business Administration will improve financing options for private investment funds seeking long-term capital.

Moniz concluded that these actions will help ensure that even more American-made clean energy technologies can “make the leap from an idea, to the laboratory, to the global marketplace.”






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About the Author

covers environmental, health, renewable and conventional energy, and climate change news. She's currently on the climate beat for Important Media, having attended last year's COP20 in Lima Peru. Sandy has also worked for groundbreaking environmental consultants and a Fortune 100 health care firm. She writes for several weblogs and attributes her modest success to an "indelible habit of poking around to satisfy my own curiosity."



  • Calamity_Jean

    The best use for money, as long as it doesn’t need to earn any return, would be to buy up and close coal-burning power plants. Failing that (if the power supply in the region can’t get along without the plant) buy it and convert it to natural gas. At the same time, offer grants to local building owners to help them put PV on their roofs. Also offer assistance to poor families to help them pay their electric bills, and to landlords to add insulation and improved windows to apartments. Revise building codes to require more energy efficiency in new construction and remodeling.

    We don’t need more research. We know the answers. More wind power, more solar power, much more energy efficiency.

  • This is great to hear. Hopefully the money will definitely help. Ifrah Khan @GGT

  • Will E

    USA elections next year, can it be that Solar becomes a criminal offence in the USA with new laws? with a new administration? as it happened in Spain?

    • Offgridman

      Not to likely on a national basis, the rights of individual states to control the utilities that operate within them has had the effort of slowing the change to renewable energy sources on a nation wide basis. But as you have seen even very conservative ones such as Texas and the others in the midwest have vigorously pursued wind energy due to the economics.
      Programs like this on a national scale that verify (and help reduce the costs) of the lower costs of renewable energy guide the states towards making the obvious choice.
      It isn’t just on here, but even in the popular media that it is suspected that the republican party will come out in support of solar and wind programs. Maybe not by 2016, but definitely in ’20 or ‘ 24, they may still be denying man made climate change, but the dollars and cents realities of renewables is something that they can easily get behind, whether from the conservative or liberal side of the party.

  • Ivor O’Connor

    I hope they spend the money wisely…

    • Martin

      Well as long as it is spent on clean energy, not FF, that would be a good thing.

      • Ivor O’Connor

        “Clean energy” means FF with scrubbing, biofuels, fracking, and nuclear power to the major funders on this list.

        • Sandy Dechert

          Also carbon capture, I believe.

        • Martin

          If that is the case then clean energy needs to be re defined ( any energy system that has no CO2 emssions perhaps?)

          • Ivor O’Connor

            Nuclear doesn’t have CO2. Would Fracking for Clean Natural Gas be acceptable? Or how about spending those billions to remove CO2 via carbon sequestration.

            Or are you one of those purists who only want real solutions like solar, wind, and energy storage?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Nuclear has a lifetime carbon footprint. It’s very low compared to coal or gas, but it’s higher than wind and solar.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            Because of all the cement right? Like dams.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’d have to dig into the details, but concrete is some. Mining and refining fuel contributes.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If you want to check it out here’s your portal…

            http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/sustain_lca_results.html

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