The Week in Cleantech (Feb. 3 to Feb. 9) – Happy Year Of The Rat!

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On Monday, Lisa Lee at Reuters informed us that banks were to weigh CO2 emissions in power lending. This is, without a doubt, the story of the week. However, anybody who has been following this space knew that the writing was on the wall. Cai Steger at The Invisible Green Hand put together a comprehensive list of coal power projects that have either been canceled or put on hold due to environmental concerns in the recent past. Somewhat paradoxically, the same week, a major US coal export terminal announced that it was boosting capacity. Don’t be fooled, although coal may have suffered a small setback in America, it continues to do very well globally as a fuel source for power gen. On Tuesday, Julian Murdoch at Hard Assets Investor gave us an overview of the latest Bush budget from an alternative energy perspective. This is an interesting read and I don’t have too much to say about it, other than that the Bush Administration definitely did not throw alt energy any bones to make up for ground lost elsewhere. On Wednesday, Ryan Stanton at told us that methane from landfills was seen as a viable, renewable source of energy. Landfill methane, old story right? Well I’m not so sure. While the technology and the concept have been with us for the better part of the past 20 years, the economics of these projects could be significantly altered in the years ahead for two main reasons: (a) the proliferation of incentive programs for clean power generation across North America, and (b) my favorite, carbon credits. It will be interesting to see what happens with firms heavily involved with this, which at the moment would be your large-cap waste management companies. Could they be in a position to build nice portfolios of carbon offsets for eventual re-sale in a North American carbon market…a la Blue Source? On Wednesday, Massie Santos Ballon at met with someone who is challenging silicon’s grip on solar. Despite rough times in equity markets and uncertainty around federal incentives and the price of oil, solar remains a pretty exciting space because such innovations promise to bring down costs significantly in the next few years. However, although it is fair to say that an economic slowdown will not ravage the industry, hefty valuations across the sector as recently as last month suggest that a little more pain may be on the way if equity markets continue to soften. Watch for good bargains! On Friday, Michael Kanellos at CNet gave us some scary stats about greening the grid. What are two of the biggest issues facing the grid according to these two utilities executives? Grid expansion/upgrade and storage – two of our favorite sectors. The numbers given early on in the article provide you an idea of the scale of expenditures required over the next few decades. Check out Tom’s article for a selection of transmission stocks. Finally, the team would like to wish all of our Chinese readers Happy New Year. This year is the year of the Rat. We put year of the Rabbit earlier – that was a mistake. Apologies.


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