By Michael Kanellos
With the global gathering in Copenhagen to discuss climate change less than two months away, billionaire George Soros said in a speech that he will invest $1 billion of his own money into green technologies.
Don't count on clean coal companies to get a lot of money.
"There is no magic bullet for climate change, but there is a lethal bullet: coal," he said in a speech, according to the Guardian. "I will look for profitable opportunities, but I will also insist that the investments make a real contribution to solving the problem of climate change."
While Soros has invested in clean companies in the past and lobbied for climate legislation, the infusion of funds will no doubt further the momentum in green investing. Venture capital investment in green technologies roared back with $1.9 billion invested in 112 deals in the third quarter of 2009. That's up from $836 million in 59 deals in the first quarter of 2009 and $1.2 billion in 85 deals in the solid second quarter.
In all, close to $4 billion in in venture funds has been invested in green this year. VCs will likely put less into green than in 2008, but the year-end total will likely equal or beat 2007's total.
Just as important, the large private equity firms, which tend to have more money than your average VC and tend to invest in infrastructure projects, are showing more interest. Pegasus Capital, a fund managed by Drexel Burnham alums, is currently raising a $2 billion sustainability fund. A signficant portion will go to green building. Many green companies, of course, are seeking funds to move from the science experiment phase to building factories, so these sort of investors are welcome news.
Investors are also likely showing more interesting in green now that stimulus funds are flowing. Grant recipients must often raise matching funds; the existence of federal grants and loans, however, provides a level of security.