Inducing private finance for renewable energy projects: evidence from micro-data

This paper analyses the effects of government policies on flows of private finance for investment in renewable energy (inducement effect). It also examines whether direct provision of public finance for a project increases the volume of private finance raised (“crowding in” effect). A unique dataset of financial transactions for renewable energy projects with worldwide coverage is constructed using the Bloomberg New Energy Finance database. The analysis covers 87 countries, six renewable energy sectors (wind, solar, biomass, small hydropower, marine and geothermal) and the 2000-2011 timespan. Main findings are that, in contrast to quota-based schemes, price-based support schemes are positively correlated with investors’ ability to raise private finance. The paper suggests that, rather than the type of instrument (price vs. quota), it is the specific design of such schemes that is key to providing a predictable signal and an effective incentive to attract private investors. It is also found that public finance supports precisely those projects that have had difficulty raising private finance (co-financed projects), where neither quota-based measures nor price-based support schemes have a significant effect on private finance flows. This raises the concern that in the absence of well-designed policies which incentivise private finance investment, governments wishing to secure project completion have no other choice than to support projects directly through the use of public finance.