Monthly Archives: August 2007

Alcoa: an Ironic Energy Efficiency Stock

Being concerned about global warming, but also an investor and advisor who wants to keep my own and my client's money relatively safe is fraught with compromises.  For instance, a lot of environmentalists probably think that Alcoa (NYSE: AA) is an inappropriate investment, although I like it now that it has fallen from its recent highs. There are two major environmental objections to Alcoa.  First, aluminum is extremely energy intensive to refine, and so has a high embodied energy (although recycled aluminum is much better).  Second, like any large mining company, they are responsible for considerable pollution. Yes,...

They’ll Put the Cellulose in Cellulosic Ethanol

One of the keys to staying ahead of the game in money management is lateral thinking.  I start with the trend, and then try to think of industries or companies that might benefit, but are not on everyone else's radar.  With Peak Oil-driven demand for biofuels, regular readers know that I consider the people who produce the feedstock (farmers, and industries whose waste can fairly easily be converted into biofuel) to be the most certain winners.  One direction this chain of logic has taken me is to forestry companies.  I'm far from a forestry analyst, so I decided to...

ETS Interview: LEDs and Energy Efficiency

Today, Energy Tech Stocks has the fifth installment from our interview, outlining my LED stock picks.  He quotes me at the start saying that it's "going to be a gigantic market" about LEDs.  It is, but only when compared to the current size of the market... you can ramp up a lot from a very small base.   LED bulbs are increasing in brightness and decreasing in price rapidly.  It's these quickly improving economics that make me bullish about LEDs.   Unlike many energy efficiency technologies, LEDs are a product that a business can sell.   Much of energy efficiency involves...

The Week in Cleantech (Aug. 19 to Aug. 25) – What Can The Volt...

On Monday, Ian Talley at the WSJ's Energy Roundup informed us that there were no alternatives at NYMEX. While the reasons behind this delay may be unclear, the US Futures Exchange is moving ahead with what I believe are the first US wind power futures to be traded on a US exchange. On Wednesday, Dan Lewis at AEI informed us that Vestas was closing a second manufacturing plant in Australia. Not supporting the emergence of a strong renewables industry is, to say the least, an interesting policy choice on the part of the Federal and the various State...

Hither and Yon: Transmission and Biofuels

In the most recent two installments of Energy Tech Stocks' interview with me cover my views on transmission stocks, and biofuel stocks.  Readers of AltEnergyStocks know that I am a big fan of electricity transmission, a theme I keep coming back to.  You also know that I have a very ambivalent relationship with both ethanol and biodiesel.  So I liked Bill's transmission article, but I just wasn't able to convey to him the subtleties of how I feel about biofuels.  But he got one thing right: the owners of biofuel feedstock are likely going to be the biggest winners....

Energy Kills, Energy Cures Campaign Launches

The following is a special information supplement on behalf of our Featured Company Energy Cures. The Energy Kills, Energy Cures Campaign has launched supporting the interconnected solution to fighing poverty environmental degradation. The Energy Cures Campaign, a grassroots social and environmental call-to-action, launched across the world motivating people to stop the inherent cycle between poverty, dirty energy and its drastic affect on the environment. Providing a simple platform to support the renewable energy efforts of developing countries, Energy Cures creates an opportunity to get involved with a solution that benefits both people and the planet. By...

ETS Interview: The Will the Real Transportation Fuel of the Future Step Forward

For macro reasons, I think that the next generation liquid fuels may be cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel or renewable diesel from algae.  But those fuels will increasingly be sharing the roads with the long term transportation fuel of the future: electricity from renewable sources, especially wind.  Wind will be important for electric transportation and electric transportation will be important for wind because, when you're already going to be charging batteries, you may as well do it when the electricity is cheap, which will be when the wind is blowing..   Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) neatly solve the main barrier...

Q2 2007 Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Indices

Ernst & Young recently released its Q2 2007 Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Indices . As part of this initiative, E&Y typically publishes three forward-looking indices that rank countries based on their alternative energy investment friendliness. The indices are: the All-renewable Index, the Long-term Wind Index and the Near-term Wind Index (2-year time horizon). This edition of the Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Indices report also contains a short discussion on supply-chain gluts in the alternative energy space. We have already discussed some of the potential investment opportunities related to...

Energy Tech Stocks Interview- Utility Scale Batteries

Two weeks ago I did a phone interview with Bill Paul of Energy Tech Stocks.  Bill's a long time WSJ reporter who got out in time before Rupert Murdoch swooped in, as well as a long time environmental journalist.  As such he interviews those of us whose job it is to have views about what's going on in Cleantech and presents those opinions in a readable and engaging way.  He also has this addictive trick of breaking up interviews into several parts and leaving you with a cliffhanger.  Bill's first installment showed up in my feed reader last...

Why Energy Efficiency is a Hard Sell

Two months ago, I was talking to an experienced entrepreneur who was exploring business models to provide geothermal heat pumps to households.  At first blush, it seems like a great idea.  Geothermal heat pumps often have payback periods of under five years, which translates into internal rates or return in excess of 20% over the 30 year life of the system.  With plenty of room for a business to recoup its cost of capital and leave some money on the table for the consumer, it's amazing that there isn't a company in every jurisdiction already active in the market.  ...

The Week in Cleantech (Aug. 12 to Aug. 18) – Bubble or Biggest Investment...

On Sunday, Dan Lewis at AEI wondered what we could re-weight the dollar exposure of alternative energy into. An interesting take on global monetary policy and alternative energy investing. On Monday, Kevin Bullis at Technology Review informed us that novel batteries were getting a boost. This is a big vote of confidence for A123. The growing interest from consumers and policy-makers in hybrids and HEVs will make batteries an essential area to keep an eye on for the cleantech investor. On Thursday, Todd Woody at Green Wombat informed us that big banks were backing big solar. The...

Poll Question: Alternative Energy: Safe Haven or Time Bomb?

This poll opened Aug 16, 2007 and closed Aug 18, 2007 Since it peaked at 569.12 on July 13, the Nasdaq Clean Edge US Total Return index (^CLNX) has fallen 17.5% to 470, compared with a 12.0% drop for the S&P 500.  Part of this decline is that alternative energy companies tend to be smaller and more speculative than members of the S&P, but despite the greater riskiness (at least when defined as market sensitivity, or Beta), at least one of our readers thinks "our chance to avoid the bear market and worse" lies in the alt energy...

A Blue-chip Clean Car Stock

One of the criticisms I often hear about cleantech is that, as an asset class, it is too risky and volatile for the average investor. That is a misconception Tom attempted to dispel a few months ago with his Blue-Chip Alternative Energy Portfolio. In fact, some of the most interesting work in cleantech and alternative energy is currently being conducted by large companies. A Clean Car Pick Last year, we told you about a report on investing in clean automotive. We have some interesting follow-up information on one of the companies discussed in that report. ...

Biodiesel’s Nightmare: Renewable Diesel

Until algae farms move from the research and demonstration stage, biodiesel usage is going to be tightly constrained by available feedstock.  The feedstocks for biodiesel are oils and fats, which naturally occur in quantity only in animals or the seeds of plants.  As such, the quantity of oil available is much smaller than the sugars, starches, and cellulose which occur not only in the seeds and fruits of plants, but also in the stems and leaves, and can be used to make ethanol.  Because sugarcane contains the best ethanol feedstock, sugar in the stem (not just the...

The Week in Cleantech (Aug. 5 to Aug. 11) – Nasty Correction or Good...

On Tuesday, Carl T. Delfeld at Seeking Alpha told us about the new kid on the cleantech ETF block, the PowerShares Global Clean Energy ETF (AMEX:PBD). For more details, check out Powershares section on PBD. This fund tracks the WilderHill New Energy Global Innovation Index - an index put together by New Energy Finance (NEF) of London. NEF is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting organizations in the clantech finance space at the moment. On Tuesday, Jack Uldrich at The Motley Fool reminded us that a bill is just a bill. At AltEnergyStocks.com, we view...

Renewable Energy: a Better Bribe

Bribing and Pressuring Fissile Regimes On July 25th, France offered to build a nuclear reactor for Libya to power a water desalinization plant.  Russia is delaying the delivery of  nuclear fuel for Iran's nearly completed Bushehr to help pressure them to comply with UN Security council demands for less secrecy.  South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, and the United States promised to provide 950 thousand tons of oil or equivalent aid to North Korea in return for permanently disabling all its nuclear facilities. I'm not going to argue about whether using energy aid is the best way to influence this...