Monthly Archives: January 2008

Ten Solid Clean Energy Companies to Buy on the Cheap: Intro, and Honorable Mentions

With the recent market declines, the start of the year may not have been the best time to publish ten speculative stock recommendations.  Considering the S&P fell 6% in the month of January, I find it quite surprising that an equal-weighted portfolio of those picks is up over 6% for the same period (using the prices I quoted in the original articles.)  If the market as a whole continues down, I expect it to drag those speculative picks with it.  Small, profitless companies tend to be hurt more than others in market declines, and to benefit more from booms.  ...

A PHEV-EV Demand Curve, REEV-isited

Why is Detroit Obsessed with PHEVs?

The Presidential Candidates on Clean Energy

Politicians will always have an influence on the stock market, through regulation, tax policy, incentives and more.  This truism is only more certain in energy policy, where electricity markets and transport are highly regulated, and the next administration is widely expected to enact some sort of carbon regulation, if not a tax.   Last night, I heard the head of the Colorado Governor's Energy Office speak on what the state administration is doing on energy policy.  Our current governor, Bill Ritter, ran on a three part platform: working to fix Colorado's healthcare, transportation, and energy policies.  Last year, the administration...

The Week in Cleantech (Jan. 20 to Jan. 26) – Renewable Energy Is Coming...

On Tuesday, Todd Woody at Green Wombat told us the the clock was ticking on the crucial solar investment tax credit. When the solar ITC was dropped, the potential impacts were unclear although many folks had a good idea of what might happen. It now seems as though this is indeed throwing a spoke in the wheel of more solar development in the US, although industry leaders apparently remain sanguine. Given the amount of debt financing solar developments typically get, throw on top of ITC concerns high levels of uncertainty in capital markets over the direction of the...

Cellulosic Electricity: Stock Analysts v. Venture Capitalists

Romm v. Kholsa In a persuasive series of articles, entitled "Pragmatists vs. Environmentalists" (Parts I, II, and III) on Gristmill, Vinod Khosla provides the reasoning behind his "dissing" of plug-in hybrids, which drew the ire of Joeseph Romm.  Neither seems to think the argument is settled, and Joeseph Romm returns fire here. As someone who knows as much about investing as Joe Romm and has written as much about Climate Change and Energy Policy as Vinod Khosla, I feel the need to jump into the debate and settle the matter.  (Will either of them will notice?)...

No New Transmission Means Little Renewable Energy

I'm a fan of investing in electricity transmission, both because the grid in the US is in a sad state of repair, and because considerable expansions to the grid will be needed to take large scale renewable energy (especially concentrating solar and wind) from the lightly inhabited areas with renewable energy resources to population and demand centers. Unfortunately, the need  for new transmission can put renewable energy advocates at odds with more traditional environmentalists, who are concerned about the local damage to views and habitat caused by new transmission lines.  Cases in point are opposition which looks...

The Week in Cleantech (Jan. 13 to Jan. 19) – CO2 ‘Wildcatting’: The Next...

On Sunday, Cory Jenkins at Seeking Alpha told us about the next green energy phenomenon. The carbon offset space where credit origination is coupled with commoditization of what would otherwise be 'waste' (i.e. methane from livestock can be used to produce power instead of vented into the atmosphere) is a space I am very excited about. Some of you may have read the article in the December edition of Bloomberg Magazine on privately-owned Blue Source, and, if you haven't, I'd definitely recommend it. I think the business model makes an increasing amount of sense the more whatever you initially...

Short Demand for Cree High and Rising

I got a call from my broker this morning asking me if I'd be willing to loan out my shares of Cree, Inc. (NASD:CREE) to a short seller.  Since the only cost to me is that I will not be able to vote my shares, and I will earn 2.5% per annum on the value, I said "yes."  Normally, brokerages get the shares they lend out to shorts from margin accounts with a margin balance.  Since I never carry a balance (although I do have a margin account in order to trade options) they must ask my permission...

Cree, a Solar Play?

For investors excited about Cree's (NASD:CREE) Light-Emitting Diode (LED) business, here's one more piece of good news: The EE Times Reports that the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (Freiburg, Germany) claims it has achieved a record efficiency for its inverter designed for PV generators, using Cree's SiC transistors. I've previously noted that inverters are a good way to participate in the Solar and Wind power markets without needing to invest in the high priced (or foreign) companies which dominate those markets, and even without this news, Cree is a longtime favorite of this blog.  The stock shot up...

How Green are Your Earnings?

What Constitutes an Alternative Energy Company? There's a debate going on in the clean energy investment community about which companies are "green" enough to merit our attention.  Before the filming of my WealthTrack appearance, I got into a discussion with Ardour Global Indexes' Joseph LaCorte.  The Global Alternative Energy ETF (NYSE: GEX) is based on the index he manages.   The format of the show includes a top pick from each of the guests at the end of the show, and Mr. LaCorte was hoping that I'd pick GEX, since I had previously told him that it was...

A PHEV – EV Demand Curve

The logic behind Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) is that they combine the best characteristics of a Electric Vehicles (EVs), most importantly efficiency, which brings with it much lower operating costs and lower net emissions and no tailpipe emissions, with the benefits of a liquid fuel vehicle, mainly the range available with energy-dense liquid fuels. But how important is range to car buyers?  PHEV advocates say that 80% of all daily car use is less than 50 miles, which is easily achievable with today's electric vehicle (EV) technology.  The freeway-capable EVs being developed today have a range between 100 and...

A Concrete Proposal

The Economist recently had a story on how the cement industry is beginning to confront the fact that the industry produces 5% of the world's emissions of greenhouse gasses.  Carbon dioxide is emitted not only by the fossil fuels used to create the heat used in the creation of cement, and by the chemical reaction in that process. Unfortunately for us, cement is a remarkably useful building material, not least as a structural material which can also serve as thermal mass in passive solar buildings.   All the large cement firms: Lafarge, Holcim, and Cemex (NYSE:CX) have joined a voluntary...

How to Buy Losers: Tricking Yourself with Cash-Covered Puts

It's that time of year again.  I've started studying for the third (and final) CFA® exam, and my readers are "treated" to my theories of the market and trading.  No stock picks today; put your thinking caps on!  CAPM: Nice Theory, Too Bad About the Market In Level II of the exam, we studied efficient-market theories, such as CAPM and APT.  I actually like an elegant theory (I spent nearly decade of my life studying mathematics), but as a market practitioner, I know the market doesn't work that way.  I learned this lesson the hard way.   Early in my...

Commodities Specialists Ask About Alternative Energy

Commodities investing site HardAssetsInvestor has published an interview with me from the start of December.  We covered a broad swathe of the clean (and not so clean) energy.   If you're wondering why my top stock pick from the article was ABB, and not one from my recent 10 Speculations series, it's because all of those are too risky to be my top picks.  I like risk, but not with the largest part of my portfolio... stocks like ABB that let me sleep at night. Major topics we touched on: Ethanol (both corn and cellulosic) Cost comparisons in electricity...

Questions from Readers

Many readers write me with questions relating to my articles.  At first, I would respond directly, but eventually the calls on my time became too great.  I instituted a policy: I would respond to comments on the blog, but would redirect people emailing me to put there comments there, allowing me to answer many readers' questions at the same time. In that spirit, here are some recent questions from readers others may find useful as well. Questions about My Reasoning: Why are so many greens against Fuel Cell Vehicles? (On 10 Most Blogged Cleantech Stories of 2007) ...

The Week in Cleantech (Dec. 30 to Jan. 5) – Will The Solar Bears...

Technology Review, my favorite science publication, gave us last week a wrap-up of the year in energy. It's a recap of the main energy-related stories the magazine published in 2007, and is well-worth a read if you want to start 2008 up-to-date on where the science is on most issues of relevance to alt energy investors. On Monday, Jerome Ball at Alternative Energy Trading argued that the solar PV industry would veer into oversupply in 2008. This is one of the most cogent analysis of the solar PV market I have read in a while, and it takes...