Singapore’s Clime Capital, SEACEF launch world’s first high-risk philanthropic fund

Deal Street Asia Southeast Asia Clean Energy Facility (SEACEF), a new climate fund backed by philanthropic donors, is seeking to mobilise $2.5 billion of private investments for clean energy projects in Southeast Asia. The fund, which is managed by Singapore-based Clime Capital, will initially focus on renewable energy projects in Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines, according to a statement. It will offer high-risk venture capital-type funding initiative to “fill a gap” in financing early-stage clean energy projects in the region. SEACEF has an initial investment of $10 million from supporting global philanthropies and is seeking to attract up to $40 million in additional capital. Among its supporters are international climate foundations such as Sea Change Foundation International, Wellspring Climate Initiative, High Tide Foundation, Grantham Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Packard Foundation, and Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF). Imraam Mohammed, head of impact investing at CIFF, said the launch of SEACEF comes at a time when the COVID-19 crisis is shrinking traditional sources of funding. “Impact investors and Foundations are stepping up to bridge the gap, catalyse other sources of funding, and ensure the transition to clean energy in Southeast Asia continues to accelerate,” Mohammed said. Countries in Southeast Asia have set a target of securing 23 per cent of their primary energy from renewable sources by 2025 as demand for energy in the region is forecast to rise by 50 per cent due to rising urbanisation, population, and economic growth. SEACEF’s early-stage funding will focus on solar, wind, and energy storage, and other business models that accelerate low carbon transition, such as electric mobility, demand-side management technology, energy efficiency in buildings, and clean energy transmission infrastructure. Development finance for clean energy project was the hardest to find, even before COVID-19, because it carries the highest risk, according to Mason Wallick, managing director at Clime Capital. “However, the opportunities for renewable energy investment remain significant, so this high-risk capital is a cornerstone at a time of great uncertainty, which can catalyse the significant funding required to turn proposals into major clean energy projects,” he stressed. Clean energy investments have attracted investors globally. In China, China Life Insurance has teamed up with State Power Investment Corporation to launch a $1.1 billion clean energy fund that will invest in state-backed clean energy projects in underdeveloped regions. Australian government-backed renewable investor Clean Energy Finance Corporation also committed up to $70 million last year to invest in clean energy via a joint venture fund with infrastructure-focused Ironstone Capital. Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC), one of Australia’s largest investment managers, announced in February that it has invested in San Francisco-based Generate Capital, the clean energy infrastructure investor, which raised $1 billion in new funding to expand its renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure fleet.