CleanPath Launches $800 Million Fund For Large-Scale Solar Financing

A San Francisco-based renewable energy fund, CleanPath Ventures, announced plans today to invest $800 million over a period of about five years into the development and construction of large-scale, solar photovoltaic projects. The company’s chief executive and co-founder, Mike Cheney spoke at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum in New York, today revealing a goal to help bring more than 1,000 megawatts of clean energy to the U.S.

A managing director with CleanPath Ventures, John Balbach (formerly a managing partner at The Cleantech Group) told TechCrunch in a phone interview on Tuesday:

“We’re in a new era in cleantech investment where it’s less about innovation and more about financial solutions to put things in the ground at scale. The build out of solar in the U.S. is just hitting a stride like it did in Europe 5 years ago. We see tremendous potential in emerging markets in the U.S., and just south and north of the border.

We will invest where solar power can be price competitive [with traditional energy sources]. Exactly where we decide to invest will be influenced by a number of factors. The regulatory framework is important, but so are the natural resources and issues like transmission, population and solar resources in a given area. That mix, like the economic equation for solar, changes over time.

Texas will be a very interesting market, as will the Midwest over the next five years. These areas have gone through some wind development, already.”

Serial solar financiers Matt Cheney and Karin Berardo started CleanPath after spinning out and selling an earlier energy fund, MMA Renewable Ventures to Fotowatio in 2009. Fotowatio is a solar-focused fund and developer of utility-scale power generating facilities based in Spain, with a significant role in developing solar projects throughout Europe and Australia.

CleanPath’s new fund will provide capital, credit and expertise in large-scale solar photovoltaics facilities to: project developers, utilities, builders, businesses, governments and land owners primarily in the U.S. The projects it funds will range in size from 5 to 100 megawatts and will use photovoltaic equipment rather than other, less-tested solar technology for large-scale facilities like BridgeSource’s solar power towers.