Approximately two-thirds of big investment companies plan to prioritize solar power in the next five years, according to a new survey.
The survey, commissioned by financial services firm Wiser Capital, got responses from 100 representatives from large investment companies in the United States. It found that 32 percent of those companies plan to invest in solar for the first time this year, and 28 percent will invest in solar for the first time in the next two to five years. It also found that about 80 percent of the companies polled want to invest in solar “to support a cleaner energy future, and a little over 60 percent want to invest in it because they’re confident they’ll get a return on the investment.”
“We have known the demand for mid-scale solar investment was growing in the U.S and it’s clear the boom has in fact already begun,” Nathan Homan, executive director of Wiser Capital said in a statement.
The survey also looked at potential reasons why firms wouldn’t invest in solar. It found that lack of policy and industry standardization, as well as uncertainty about policies such as net metering in some states, was the main reason, with about 46 percent of investors citing that as a reason they might hold back from a solar investment.
“It has always been a notoriously difficult sector for investors to assess risk and prove investments viable without incurring incredibly high administrative costs,” Homan said. “With our technology finally unlocking this new market segment, we are excited to see sustained and aggressive growth in the solar industry across the country.”
Wiser’s survey looked at corporate investors, but there’s been work in recent years surrounding public investment in solar too. Last year, SolarCity introduced solar bonds, which the company bills as a way for regular Americans to invest in solar. The bonds are sold online in $1,000 increments, and as of this year, people can also get them through their retirement accounts. Tim Newell, vice president of financial products at SolarCity, told ThinkProgress in March that Americans are getting more interested in making socially-responsible, sustainable investments, which makes the introduction of solar bonds timely.
“Impact investments and socially responsible investments have been around for a long time, but I think now people’s expectations have changed,” Newell said. “People are learning that…you can earn good economic returns and do good with your money at the same time.”
Wiser’s report also came on the heels of an announcement from the White House of a $4 billion commitment to ramp up investment in clean energy. The $4 billion is coming from pension funds and foundations and groups such as Goldman Sachs and the Sierra Club Foundation.
“One of the real challenges is the gap in financing clean energy,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said at a press conference on the commitment earlier this week. “There is a continuing need for new capital investment.”