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Exclusive: Manulife commits up to $500M to solar backer CleanCapital

Illustration of rows of solar panels with abstract shapes and money elements.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Canadian insurance giant Manulife committed up to $500 million to CleanCapital, an NYC-based solar and storage developer that's become a strong backer of early-stage projects.

Why it matters: The commitment is another example of the U.S. solar market attracting traditional institutional investors in addition to standard venture capital firms.

Catch up fast: Companies like CleanCapital generally back smaller, regional solar developers — the kinds of companies once referred to as "two-guys-and-a-truck."

  • CleanCapital has traditionally funded the buildup to solar developments, but it's now increasingly bankrolling the full scope of a project.
  • "There used to be much more staggered capital, capital injections," CEO Thomas Byrne tells Axios. "We're not doing that anymore...CleanCapital is funding the entirety of the development."

The latest: CleanCapital has built a 400 MW portfolio of solar and storage across the community-scale, commercial and industrial, and distributed sectors.

  • Manulife invested $300 million in CleanCapital in 2021.
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