Finance & Investing

How the DOE is scaling renewable energy innovation through finance

The wave of renewable energy is exciting to be a part of. Unfortunately, the financial part of implementing renewables is far less sexy than the technology. But without a good financial model in place, the technology won't be able to scale.

In an interview with TakePart senior editor Todd Woody, the U.S. Department of Energy's principal deputy assistant secretary Mike Carr and loans program executive director Peter Davidson tackled the issues of green finance at VERGE 2014 in San Francisco. Carr and Davidson also talked about what the DOE is doing to help finance solar installations in the for- and non-profit sectors.

According to Carr, the DOE's principal challenge isn't the tech, but how to get it installed. "One of the biggest challenges to the continued deployment of [photovoltaic panels] is no longer really the hardware costs," Carr said. "It's the soft costs. It's the customer acquisition, the rapidity with which you can put these facilities in the ground and it's the larger financing mechanisms."

According to Carr, the cost of photovoltaic (PV) panels has come down 80 percent. The panel itself is no longer the biggest cost in a PV installation.

Davidson backed up Carr's statements from his perspective in the finance office. "The larger battle we're a part of is: How do we reduce the cost of clean energy deployment?" he said.