In brief: Greenbacker Capital floats solar-on-water developer

The sustainable infrastructure investor sees potential in the untapped market of floating solar panels on bodies of water.

Greenbacker Capital Management, a private markets firm investing in clean energy, has committed growth equity to a company that is building solar projects on water.

“Floatovoltaics” or the “floating solar space” is an untapped renewable energy market that does not require expansive land sites to develop, a drawback of large-scale solar projects on land, according to a Greenbacker statement announcing the firm’s investment in Noria Energy.

“With unique environmental and power production advantages,” the statement said, floating solar makes use of “calm” bodies of water such as hydroelectric dam reservoirs and wastewater treatment ponds.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that floating solar projects installed on the more than 24,000 manmade reservoirs in the US could meet 10 percent of the country’s energy needs.

Noria has already piloted the largest floating solar array in the US, a 4.8MW project. With Greenbacker’s investment, the California-based solar developer plans to complete a 200MW pipeline of projects including both floating and ground-mounted photovoltaic panels.

Greenbacker invests in companies positioned for growth in the energy transition. Its investment strategies range from tech-enabled sustainable infrastructure to renewable energy projects in Opportunity Zones, US-government-designated low-income communities where private capital can be deployed in exchange for tax benefits.