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Good Energies on the Hunt for Solar Investments

In the midst of a solar shakeout, lending for utility-scale solar projects could plunge by as much as 17 percent, to 10 billion euros (about $13.5 billion) this year, according to a recent note from Commerzbank AG cited in Bloomberg today. Sven Hansen, chief investment officer of the investment group Good Energies, sees nothing but opportunity, for Hansen is on the hunt to finance solar projects.

And as Hansen tells Bloomberg, Good Energies has a three-year budget of 1 billion euros through 2009. As we’ve noted before, the firm already holds a significant number of solar and wind investments (most recently leading a $163 million round for thin-film partner NorSun), in addition to stakes in the green building industry.

While this year and next look “difficult” for solar panel makers (that’s putting it mildly), Hansen reportedly thinks the photovoltaics industry is on track to grow about 30 percent annually. Solar projects are “excellent investments,” he was quoted as saying, adding that he expects them to provide much of the world’s power within a century.

Good Energies isn’t the only company looking to get in on utility-scale solar. California utility PG&E (s PCG) has also embarked on a hunt for solar investments, aiming to act as a “green knight” for solar projects with limited access to capital in today’s financial markets.

Good Energies and PG&E, of course, are not simply altruistic knights. Investing in and owning solar projects also gives PG&E a kind of insurance for the state’s renewable portfolio standard, which requires utilities in the state to get 10 percent of their energy from clean sources by next year. The utilities company has agreed to buy solar power produced by several projects being built by young startups, which are inherently risky, and now plans to take ownership of more photovoltaic projects. If PG&E backs away from riskier ventures, Good Energies may step in instead.

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