Spending on renewable energy, which surged 16 percent in 2014, will remain strong this year, largely unaffected by the slumping oil prices that have artificially depressed their shares.
That’s the message from Stuart Bernstein, Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s global head of clean technology and renewables, and Vishal Shah, Deutsche Bank AG’s renewable-energy analyst. Because oil produces only 1 percent of U.S. electricity, the crude plunge that’s roiling markets should have only a “modest” effect on clean-energy developers or the companies that equip them, Bernstein said in a telephone interview.
“I don’t want to be dismissive of the impact of declining oil and gas commodity prices on renewable energy,” Bernstein said. “But they will have a very small impact on the long-term cost of electricity.”
Clean energy attracted a total of $310 billion in investment last year, up from $268 billion in 2013 and the first increase in three years, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Goldman Sachs managed $4.1 billion in clean-energy public markets transactions last year. That was about 40 percent of the total and the most of any financier, according to league tables published by New Energy Finance.
Goldman has boosted its efforts in clean energy while other financial companies are pulling back, which helped the company retain the top spot, Bernstein said.
Shares of solar companies have been dragged down alongside slumping oil prices, and may offer a buying opportunity, according to Deutsche Bank’s Shah. There is little connection between solar panels, which make electricity, and crude that’s processed mostly into transportation fuel, Shah, who is based in New York, said in an interview.