The largest commercial real estate owner in the world is planning to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in renewable energy over the next decade. Last year, Blackstone announced it had acquired a significant stake in a Netherlands-based company, Esdec, that manufactures systems for rooftop solar installations. With the purchase, Blackstone positioned itself to be able to offer affordable rooftop solar to businesses and properties the company invests in. In the U.S., Blackstone is looking to install community solar projects atop empty warehouses in New Jersey using Link Logistics and Altus Power, two of its portfolio companies. “We believe renewable energy will be crucial over the next 30 years,” said Juergen Pinker, head of private equity for Blackstone in Germany. The rise of the solar market has been led in large part by the increasingly less expensive price of solar, which has fallen by 85 percent over the last decade. In fact, nowadays, it’s often cheaper to build and operate a solar plant than purchase fuel for an existing natural gas plant.
Blackstone is just one of a number of large property owners investing heavily in renewable energy. Last year, the private investment firm Starwood Capital Group and an affiliate of Related Companies partnered to launch a venture that will sell clean energy products to large real estate owners. That venture, Radial Power, will install things like solar panels, electric vehicle charging stations, and battery storage that will help commercial property owners meet their energy and climate goals. Financing options for property owners to install clean energy products have increased as well. Nuveen Green Capital, an affiliate of asset manager Nuveen, is a rapidly expanding firm focusing on the C-PACE financing program for commercial property owners to update their properties to become more energy-efficient. We’ll likely see even more major real estate owners make significant investments in renewable energy in the coming years, as the full scope of climate change and its impacts becomes more and more clear.