The world’s largest asset manager has a new multibillion-dollar renewable energy fund in the works, and a good chunk of it may go to batteries.
Long a major global investor in wind and solar energy, BlackRock has more recently begun buying into energy storage projects — including its acquisition last year of GE’s distributed solar and storage business.
Looking out over the next few years, energy storage is one market “where we’ll see the opportunity set expand,” said Martin Torres, head of the Americas at the renewables group within BlackRock Real Assets.
Torres and his team are also “eagerly watching” the emergence of the U.S. offshore wind market, he told GTM.
A transformed investment landscape
BlackRock shook the financial universe this month when CEO Larry Fink said the company will put sustainability at the “center” of its investment approach.
Exactly what Fink’s announcement will mean for BlackRock’s fossil fuel investments remains to be seen. But in the realm of renewables, at least, BlackRock’s green bona fides need little burnishing.
BlackRock launched its first equity fund targeting renewables in 2011; since then it’s played a major role in convincing institutional investors — think pension plans, insurance companies and endowments — to look at wind and solar like they would any other infrastructure asset: boring, safe, predictably lucrative.
Since 2011, BlackRock claims to have channeled $5.5 billion into more than 250 wind and solar projects around the world, a fleet that generates enough power to keep the lights on in Spain. And its appetite for renewables investment keeps growing.
BlackRock’s first renewables private-equity fund drew around $600 million of commitments from big investors. The second, launched a few years later, brought in $1.65 billion.
With its third “vintage,” known as the Global Renewable Power III fund (GRP III), BlackRock is targeting $2.5 billion of commitments; in December it announced a record $1 billion “first close,” meaning the fund can begin making investments even as it continues to bring in more capital.