General Electric Co.’s energy-investing unit expects to commit $3 billion this year, with at least half going to support renewable-energy projects around the world. Most of GE Energy Financial Services’s 2017 investments will be in North America, including deals to repower existing wind farms, according to David Nason, chief executive officer of the unit, which frequently backs projects that use GE technology.
Repowering projects — replacing aging turbines with new ones — will be one focus for the unit this year and next, he said. The unit has committed more than $15 billion to renewables, including about $5 billion over the past three years. “There are a lot of wind farms with older technology,” Nason said in an interview.
Much of the 2017 clean-energy commitment will come from equity investment and tax-equity deals, where clean-energy developers sell portions of projects’ tax credits to companies — including GE, banks and insurance companies — that can apply the federal credits to their own tax bills. The unit also provides loans. The unit was the third-largest U.S. tax-equity investor in 2016, behind JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp. in terms of the number of publicly disclosed deals, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. It’s been most active with wind deals, including the first tax-equity financing for offshore wind, according to Amy Grace, a New York-based analyst at BNEF.
“The synergy to do the financing and the equipment is quite powerful,” Nason said in an interview. “It allows us to sit with project developers at an earlier stage than we otherwise might.”