Green Giraffe across the pond: opening our Boston office
As you will vaguely recall from school, the first recorded European to travel to America was Christopher Columbus in 1492 – although he was looking for a quicker route to India. Since then hundreds of millions of people have crossed the Atlantic to set up home in this great country and in April 2019, a mere 527 years after Christopher set off from Spain, Green Giraffe has finally opened its first US office in Boston, Massachusetts. In common with all other settlers we have come to America in pursuit of opportunity, namely the revolution that is happening in green energy.
Travel anywhere in this huge country and you will see this revolution happening in front of your eyes. Solar farms and wind turbines are now ubiquitous features of the landscape and these perceptions are backed up by hard facts. Installed wind capacity is expected to exceed 100 GW this year and solar capacity is expected to surpass 70 GW. Annual capacity additions are predicted to be in excess of 10 GW for solar and 8 GW for wind. A key driver for this growth is the falling cost of technology. Within five years it is anticipated that new US generation from wind and solar energy will be cheaper than natural gas, and both technologies are already cheaper than coal fired power plants. We also see promising growth potential in more esoteric fields such as geothermal, waste to energy, hydro and energy storage.
All of this will require a huge amount of financing and we are witnessing yield hungry European pension and infrastructure funds looking west to set up offices and invest in US projects in addition to local players. We know from experience that all this activity will continue to fuel a substantial increase in M&A transactions as construction projects come to fruition and refinanced or sold to cheaper investors.
The growth in the US renewable energy market will not be without challenges however. The current boom has been partly fueled by cheap money chasing federal tax credits and these are being phased out. This will shift the market towards the structures expected by more traditional project finance financiers (including the ability to fund constructions risk on aggressive terms). We are also seeing a more competitive landscape for offshore wind leases and a decline in the number of state level off take arrangements. These three changes will make life harder for developers and many of the more marginal projects may not be viable in this increasingly demanding environment.
Notwithstanding these potential headwinds, we are still firm believers in the US energy revolution, and we will be part of it. From our inception in 2010, we have worked to position ourselves as the premier renewable energy financial advisor in Europe. With the opening of the new US office, we will build on our leadership position in Europe and extend our capabilities and execution reach throughout the US and the Americas more broadly. Although we have been active in the US market for many years, the opening of our new Boston office is, in part, a recognition that the time has come to establish a dedicated presence to support our existing clients and build new relationships in this important market.
Our goal is to continue delivering comprehensive advisory services utilizing teams from across Green Giraffe whilst acknowledging that US investment banking poses a different set of challenges and these must be managed accordingly. We have begun work to establish a fully-licensed, FINRA-regulated Green Giraffe broker-dealer in the US and all our US based staff will become licensed and registered securities professionals where necessary. In the coming months, we expect several giraffes to relocate from our European offices to help build our Boston team. This will help ensure our clients receive the same standard of excellence, commitment and character they have come to know and expect from us in Europe. This is an exciting step for both the company and our US team and underscores the commitment we are making to support our clients in this exciting and growing market.
So, although Christopher Columbus got here a whole half millennium before us, Green Giraffe have finally arrived in America and we are genuinely proud and excited to be part of the revolution in energy that is taking place in this country. We look forward to working with our friends and colleagues both here and around the globe to create opportunities, get renewable MWs installed on the ground and sea and generally get deals done! Please feel free to drop by our Boston office the next time you are in town – we are right on the water at 470 Atlantic Avenue.