Report: Cuyahoga County Green Bank Would Create 450 Jobs, Double Solar Power
Current solar projects unable to access affordable financing
Would make solar power competitive with other sources
WASHINGTON—The creation of a green bank in Cuyahoga County to help finance clean power projects would create more than 450 jobs and double the county’s solar power output, according to a new report. The analysis—conducted by the Coalition for Green Capital with support from the Cleveland Foundation, the George Gund Foundation, and Cuyahoga County—found that current capital markets and financing tools do not provide adequate support for the type of projects that would benefit consumers the most.
“After we beat the coronavirus, there are two big challenges facing us: Putting people back to work and tackling the looming climate challenge crisis. Creating a green bank in Cuyahoga County achieves both,” said Jeff Schub, executive director of the Coalition for Green Capital.
Green banks leverage public funds to stimulate private capital investments in clean, renewable energy and emission reduction projects. The funds are able to be reused since they are paid back.
The report found a green bank could make the most immediate impact in the county by offering loans to developers of small-scale (sub 500 kW) commercial solar power projects. This would help make it financially feasible for the developer to sell the solar-powered electricity at a fixed rate while allowing small businesses the opportunity to install solar using third-party financing..
“Establishing a Green Bank is a central part of the County’s Climate Action Plan,” said County Executive Armond Budish. “The opportunity to build a cleaner, greener Cuyahoga County is bold and exciting. It positions us well to come out of the current COVID crisis by tackling another crisis that may not be top of mind for some but that continues to loom.”
Currently, small-scale solar projects are unable to access financing because of smaller economic margins that small-scale projects produce. This leads to the cost of solar power being higher than the going-market rate for electricity generated by other sources, including coal and natural gas.
The creation of a green bank would double the county’s solar generation capacity to 28 megawatts over five years and remove 656,000 metric tons of CO2, the equivalent of removing 140,000 passenger cars from the road. The county currently has 14 megawatts of capacity, generating enough electricity to power just under 2,000 homes during a year in Ohio, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.
The Coalition for Green Capital conducted a market-gap analysis of the current clean energy financing landscape in Cuyahoga County from June to November of 2019. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is likely that such financing is even more critical now.
Green banks currently exist in over 14 cities and states across the country and have supported nearly $4 billion in investment. View a list of projects that have been supported by green banks.