Here's the No. 1 Problem With Renewable Energy Financing

By Robert Hackett, Fortune.

Predicting growth in the renewable energy sector can be problematic. With continuous stops and starts from a policy perspective, and the unpredictable pace of technological advancement, it’s hard for financiers to know how—or when—their investments will pan out.

“First off the most important thing in the capital markets is a level of certainty,” Chris Buddin, head of Goldman Sachs’ clean technology and renewables group, said at Fortune’s Brainstorm E energy conference on Tuesday

“When there are peaks and valleys of when we think there’s going to be credits or subsidies or incentives, you can’t make long-term decisions” Buddin told the audience in Carlsbad, Calif. He mentioned the investment tax credit passed by Congress at the end of last year as an example of this kind of unpredictability. The program, which passed just as an earlier version was set to sunset, gives solar companies a 30% tax credit on the price of solar installations for another five years.