Financing Renewable Energy: Who Is Financing What and Why it Matters

50 Pages Posted: 17 Jun 2016

See all articles by Mariana Mazzucato

Mariana Mazzucato

University of York - Social Policy Research Unit (SPRU); University of Sussex

Gregor Semieniuk

SOAS University of London

Date Written: June 15, 2016


Accelerating innovation in renewable energy (RE) requires not just more finance, but finance servicing the entire innovation landscape. Given that finance is not "neutral", more information is required on the quality of finance that meets technology and innovation stage-specific financing needs for the commercialization of RE technologies. We investigate the relationship between different financial actors with investment in different RE technologies. We construct a new deal-level dataset of global RE asset finance from 2004 to 2014 based on Bloomberg New Energy Finance data, that distinguishes 10 investor types (e.g. private banks, public banks, utilities) and 11 RE technologies into which they invest. We also construct a heuristic investment risk measure that varies with technology, time and country of investment. We find that particular investor types have preferences for particular risk levels, and hence particular types of RE. Some investor types invested into far riskier portfolios than others, and financing of individual high-risk technologies depended on investment by specific investor types. After the 2008 financial crisis, state-owned or controlled companies and banks emerged as the high-risk taking locomotives of RE asset finance. We use these preliminary results to formulate new questions for future RE policy, and encourage further research.

Keywords: renewable energy finance, direction of innovation, financial actor types, deployment, technology risk, investment portfolio

Suggested Citation

Mazzucato, Mariana and Semieniuk, Gregor, Financing Renewable Energy: Who Is Financing What and Why it Matters (June 15, 2016). SWPS 2016-12. Available at SSRN: or

Mariana Mazzucato (Contact Author)

University of York - Social Policy Research Unit (SPRU) ( email )

United Kingdom


University of Sussex ( email )

Sussex House
Brighton, Sussex BNI 9RH
United Kingdom

Gregor Semieniuk

SOAS University of London

Thornhaugh St
Russell Square
London, Camden WC1H 0XG
United Kingdom

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