The National Renewable Energy Laboratory recently released a report discussing the opportunities and challenges inherent in utilizing Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs) as investment vehicles for the solar industry. The authors also discuss proposed rule changes that could enable renewable energy REITs and MLPs and possible investor reaction to those changes.
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This paper is intended to highlight best practices, as well as common pitfalls in valuing solar energy projects including the tangible and intangible assets comprising a fully contracted in-place system (a “solar asset”).
A recent NREL report finds that the use of public capital (asset-backed securities, investment pools and real estate investment trusts) can lower the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) by up to $0.16 for residential projects and $0.08 for utility projects. As consumer confidence in securitization grows, prices could fall by as much as 30%.
An independent research report by the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, found that solar energy is following the same path to commercialization as other traditional energy sources spurred by federal incentives. The study, titled "Assessment of Incentives and Employment Impacts of Solar Industry Deployment," also estimates that the U.S. solar industry could employ hundreds of thousands of Americans by the end of the decade.