BlackRock has raised $1 billion to invest in wind, solar and battery-storage projects. The world’s largest money manager has received initial commitments from over 35 institutional investors in North America, Europe and Asia for its third global renewables fund. It’s the most BlackRock has raised yet for a clean-power fund’s first close. Renewable energy is becoming “one of the most active sectors in infrastructure,” David Giordano, global head of BlackRock renewable power, told Bloomberg News. It comes, he said, “as global power generation shifts from two-thirds fossil fuels to two-thirds renewables over the next few decades.” Clean-energy investments have surged as much of the world pushes to move beyond fossil fuels to fight climate change. Wind, solar and other forms of renewable power will attract about $322 billion annually through 2025, according to the International Energy Agency. Read the full story by Bloomberg News: BlackRock raises $1 Billion for clean power, as wind, solar boom.

The holiday shopping season is well under way, the biggest period of the year for the retail industry. Mergers & Acquisitions is covering many M&A trends in the sector. This week we’re featuring the fourth installment of a weekly series on the 7 technologies retailers are investing in: Retail Tech M&A #1: Nike, McDonald’s, PayPal, add customization, IoT. Retail Tech M&A #2: Why Walmart and other retailers are buying artificial intelligence startups. Retail Tech M&A #3: Amazon leads race to build fulfillment centers. Retail Tech M&A #4: Do robots fill orders faster? Voice- and text-assisted technology provides customers with hands-free shopping experiences. Analytics give retailers a better understanding of consumer behavior and habits. Mobile payment processing provides consumers with on-the-go convenience. Check back every week for a new installment.

Thoma Bravo is buying Instructure (NYSE: INST) for $2 billion. Instructure offers digital learning services for schools along with career development software to businesses. Instructure’s Canvas software allows teachers to customize their programs based on students needs. The company’s Bridge technology provides similar services to businesses. J.P. Morgan Securities ( NYSE: JPM) and Cooley are advising Instructure. Kirkland & Ellis is advising Thoma Bravo.

Transom Capital Group has acquired Scantron Corp. The target offers education, license and certification services to the education, healthcare and financial services sectors. Latham & Watkins and Perkins Coie advised Transom. Macquarie Group and Kirkland & Ellis advised the sellers. Ceberus Business Finance provided financing.

Stone Point Capital-backed Mitchell/Genex has acquired CompAlliance from Cobalt Ventures, the private equity arm of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City. The target is a workers’ compensation managed care services company. Bailey Southwell advised Cobalt.

Kings & Convicts is buying the Ballast Point beer brand from Constellation Brands Inc. (NYSE; STZ). Constellation said the sale will allow the company to focus on its new Corona hard seltzer product.

Huron Capital and Salt Creek Capital are investing in Pacific Shoring, a manufacturer of underground shoring and safety equipment.

Wynnchurch Capital has acquired Clyde Industries, a provider of boiler cleaning systems, from Clyde Bergemann Power Group.

Snow Software has acquired cloud management firm Embotics.

Sean Kelley has been promoted to managing director at private quity firm Gridiron Capital. He focuses on business development and marketing.

Michael Ramirez has been hired as chief financial officer at Mill Rock Capital-backed Venture Metals. Ramirez was previously the CFO at Strategic Materials.

At Mergers & Acquisitions, we’re covering the philanthropic and volunteer initiatives underway in the private equity industry. Last year, we published The Big Give, an in-depth look at how private equity firms are contributing. Efforts have continued to flourish, fueled by younger Millennials seeking to build a better future and by mature partners considering the legacy they will leave behind. Read our full coverage: Private equity gives back: Vista’s Robert F. Smith, Clearlake’s José E. Feliciano, Riverside employees.

Albertsons, Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR), Stop & Shop and Walmart (NYSE: WMT) are building automated mini-warehouses and “dark stores” to make deliveries and prepare pickup orders. Mini-warehouses are usually attached to existing stores, and in most cases, “dark stores” are completely separate. Both formats are closed off to customers, and are mostly automated. They use the assistance of robots for speed, save on labor, and get orders out faster. Kroger bought a five percent stake in robotics firm Ocado. Read our full coverage: Smart supermarkets become popular, as Kroger, Walmart add them.

It’s a milestone year for the Blackstone Group Inc. (NYSE: BX), which transitioned from a publicly traded partnership to a corporation on July 1. The New York firm announced the final close of its latest global real estate fund recently. With $20.5 billion of total capital commitments, Blackstone Real Estate Partners IX is the largest real estate fund ever raised. Mergers & Acquisitions spoke with Stephen A. Schwarzman, the firm’s co-founder, chairman and CEO. Read the full story: “Complete control” is the beauty of private equity, says Blackstone’s Stephen A. Schwarzman.

The private equity model has held up very well over the decades, continuing to outperform the public markets, even as economic cycles come and go. But the rate of growth has slowed, leading PE firms to seek adjacent areas of business to expand. As PE firms face increased pressure to produce higher returns on their investments, many of them are turning to a familiar area of business: lending. Adams Street Partners, Balance Point Capital, Carlyle and VSS are all actively engaged in lending. Read the full story: Private equity firms are becoming lenders. Here’s why.

Prokanga is a unique recruiting firm that offers full-time and flexible recruiting services. Prokanga is managed by co-founders Jamie Cheney and Lesley Finer (pictured). Mergers & Acquisitions spoke with Finer, who has more than 10 years of recruiting for the finance industry and leads the finance practice at Prokanga. For more, see Why financial services pros need flexibility.

Looking for a glimpse of what’s to come in the private equity industry? Meet Mergers & Acquisitions’ 2019 Rising Stars of Private Equity. As the PE industry undergoes a generational shift, and many firm founders retire, it’s well worth getting to know these emerging leaders, including Branford’s Austin Collier, Sterling Partners’ Shawn Domanic and Summit Partners’ Sophia Popova. For profiles and video interviews, see Meet Mergers & Acquisitions’ 2019 Rising Stars of Private Equity. For Q&As, see 10 Rising Stars of Private Equity tell their tales.

To celebrate deals, dealmakers and dealmaking firms, Mergers & Acquisitions produces three special reports every year: the M&A Mid-Market Awards; the Rising Stars of Private Equity; and the Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A. For more on the timeline and nomination process for each, see Special reports overview: M&A Mid-Market Awards, Rising Stars, Most Influential Women.

CB Insights hosts The Collective, featuring 30-plus fireside chats, at New World Stages Dec. 10-11. Mergers & Acquisitions editor-in-chief Mary Kathleen Flynn is slated to interview Lance Barton, head of corporate development for dating site developer Match Group.

The Annual AM&AA Winter Conference is taking place in Scottsdale, Arizon fron Jan. 8-10.

Deal Wave is being hosted by ACG Orange Country at the Ritz-Carlton-Laguna Niguel in Dana Point, California on Jan. 9.