Goldman, The Contrarian?

“I’m a contrarian, so when everyone else is capitulating, I think it’s time to invest.”

So says Stuart Bernstein, the partner in charge of cleantech at Goldman Sachs (NYSE:  GS), in this recent article about the ending slump of renewable energy financing.

“It feels like the worst is behind us…The market appears to have troughed in the fourth quarter of last year and several sectors have rallied meaningfully since then.”

At least Stuart himself and Goldman as a firm have reason to be bullish.  As the article reports, data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance has Goldman overtaking the top spot among investment banks in renewable energy stock offerings during 2012, with $405 million underwritten.

To be fair, it must be said that this represents resumption of leadership in a shrinking pie:  according to this companion article, global clean energy investment fell by 11% in 2012 relative to the prior year.

And, it must also be noted that Bernstein had more or less the same message almost a year ago, in his comments to the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco last March, when it was reported by Ucilia Wang of GigaOM that he said that cleantech “was certainly in the recovery period.”

In Bernstein’s favor, the long-term dynamics remain positive, whether or not we’ve hit bottom in the short-term.  “We have a growing global population coupled with an increasing per capita consumption of energy, while fossil resources are finite and shrinking.  How can one not consider clean energy and renewable alternatives?”

Let’s hope Bernstein is right.  I think he’s right.  But then again, I’m a contrarian too.