In what may be a bright bit of sunshine coming from a literal pall of bad publicity, three of the nation’s largest banks have pledged some $120B for loans in the green tech and sustainability sectors. Bank of America is the most recent to weigh in at $50B after earlier pledges of $40B from Goldman Sachs and $30B from Wells Fargo. These numbers may be pocket change to these very large banks but they are very meaningful amounts to the still fledgling green tech industry. The programs follow years of negative publicity, especially against BofA, for lending to coal deals. However, the new programs also recognize the economic viability of certain classes of green tech investments – those that create long-lived infrastructure with steady cash flow. Wind farms, solar energy attached to grids and similar alternative power plant models are examples. Many of these are driven by or supported by government regulations or incentives which reduce the risk to investors. The timing of the loan programs looks good for another reason: there is consolidation looming for parts of the clean tech sector and new capital needs for expansion as certain clean technologies catch hold with consumers. The industry will be watching closely to see if there is a Wall Street tide in favor of green technology.
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