2013 started pretty well for the renewables industry with news that Warren Buffett is investing a further £1.5bn in what will become the largest solar PV development in the world.
Mr Buffett is widely regarded as the most successful investor of modern times. Although coming from a fairly privileged background, his shrewd investments resulted in him amassing billions of dollars. In 2012 he was voted the fourth richest man in the world with a net worth of around $46.4bn, according to Bloomberg.
Time and time again Mr Buffett has made the right investment decisions, despite an uncertain market, therefore if he feels that now is the time to expand his investment in renewables, one can take it as a very positive sign that they are going to play a major role in the future, not just because the ‘greenies’ are banging the drum, but because they are going to offer excellent returns.
The latest investment sees Mr Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings investment company striking a deal with SunPower to acquire and build 2 solar PV projects in California. The two projects acquired by Mr Buffet have a combined capacity of 579MW, and will be completed in 2015. In December 2011, his investment company acquired another 550 MW solar PV plant from First Solar. Already MidAmerican Energy Holdings has invested more than $10bn in wind and solar energy, and we hope there is more to come!
According to a report completed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Projects, for the first nine months of 2012, 43.8% of the new capacity added in the US was from renewable sources (e.g. wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and water power). Renewables accounted for 13% of total electrical generation during the first six months of 2012 in America.
In the UK, renewables supplied 11.7% of our energy requirement in Q3 2012, but this figure may have been significantly higher if there had been more rainfall during the year (hard to believe, but there were actually hosepipe bans in place in March 2012!). The installed capacity for 2012 was also up 46% on the previous year, due to large wind projects being completed and the conversion of the Tilbury Power Plant to run on biomass.
So despite all the doom and gloom around the economy, it appears investment in renewable energy is looking very healthy!