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Goldman Sachs to Pump $40bn into Clean Energy

Goldman Sachs Group plans to invest $40 billion over the next 10 years into renewable energy, an area where the bank expects demand to grow as the global appetite for energy increases and major manufacturing countries like China set more aggressive emissions targets, Reuters reported.

But the bank’s new clean energy target would average about $4 billion a year – about $800 million less than it helped finance in 2011. Some analysts, noting the clean energy goal is lower than last year’s investments, have labeled it as more of an effort to score public relation points than a new initiative.

Goldman, which is expected to announce the clean energy investment target at its annual meeting today, plans to finance deals primarily with clients’ money. The company will invest some of its own funds as well. Investments will be made into a broad range of renewable energy projects from biomass and biofuels to wind, solar and LED lighting.

The company pledged in 2005 to finance and invest $1 billion into renewable energy. Goldman surpassed its goal and by the end of last year had arranged $24 billion worth of financing and invested $4 billion into projects, Kyung-Ah Park, Goldman’s head of environmental markets, told Reuters.

Goldman Sachs has been lauded in the past for its clean energy investments as well as its efforts to reduce its own carbon footprint. Last April, Bloomberg Markets magazine picked Goldman second overall and first for clean investing in its world’s greenest bank rankings.

Goldman has also made some unusual investments in clean energy.  The company’s decision last year to invest about $200 million in India’s ReNew Wind Power surprised analysts and came at a time when most global investors were leaving emerging markets for safe havens, the Financial Times reported. Some analysts said the investment made sense, despite the economic turmoil in India, noting that the country’s energy consumption was forecast to more than double by 2035.

But not all of Goldman’s investments have been smooth. Concentrating solar photovoltaic company Amonix announced this week plans to lay off employees. The company just finished a CPV power project, which is owned by Cogentrix, a wholly owned subsidiary of Goldman Sachs, which is also an investor in Amonix.

 Picture of wind turbines in Ireland by stock.xchng

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