Monthly Archives: March 2008

When to Sell: Five Rules of Thumb

A common complaint about investment writers is that we are always willing to tell you the next stock to buy, but we don't always get around to telling you when to sell.  I'm as guilty of this as most: generally, I write about the stocks I'm interested in... which are the ones I'm buying, not selling.  And, although I write the occasional negative article (Petrosun Drilling most recently, but also US Sustainable Energy and Global Resource Corporation), these were more stocks to avoid, rather than stocks which had seen their run. This is unlikely to change.  For a start,...

The Week in Cleantech, March 24 to March 28, 2008: Truckers Slow Down, Algae and...

On Sunday, Maria Manka at the Green Options Blog asked if branding will be blowing in the wind farms. On Monday, Utility analyst Daniel Scotto warned of increasing power outages in an interview with EnergyTechStocks. On Tuesday, Will Dunham at Reuters broke the news of another large chuck of the Antarctic ice shelf disintegrating. On Wednesday, Marianne Lavelle of Beyond the Barrel rolled out the news of truckers backing a national 65 mph speed limit to save gas (and money.)  On Thursday, Katie Fehrenbacher at Earth2Tech listed...

Behavioural Transit

Investors act in irrational, but predictably irrational, ways.    That is the basic tenet of Behavioral Economics.  (Looking for references, I came across an interesting book by that title, by the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Behavioral Economics at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.)   For me, these predictable irrationalities provide ways to profit from the mistakes of others in the market, so long as I do not fall into the same (or other) cognitive traps which cause the market opportunities in the first place.  I describe one such technique in this article. Applications to Policy Design In addition to those...

Neutralizing Your Peak Oil Risk

by Tom Konrad Lifestyle Risks from Peak Oil In the US, we all have a large exposure to the risk of rising energy prices.  In addition to the cost of gasoline, the whole US economy runs on oil, so a rise in the oil price is likely to affect our jobs, and the prices of all our assets, including our homes.  If other people have less money to spend and invest because of high oil prices, there will be a fall in demand for anything they were buying or investing in. House prices in exurbs and suburbs where the...

The Week in Cleantech, March 16 to March 21, 2008: Solar is Booming, But So...

On Tuesday, Michael Hoexter at RenewableEnergyWorld covered the increasing number of companies constructing Concentrating Solar Power plants around the world. Dave Room at EcoLocalizer reported on a new model for residential solar purchasing: 24 neighbors banded together to put out their own Request For Proposals (RFP.) On Wednesday, Big Gav at Peak Energy rounded up stories on a less talked about biofuel, biogas, which I prefer to ethanol and biodiesel because of the superior crop yields in terms of miles per acre.  Miles per acre was big on the blogs this week, with both me and...

Geothermal, Battery, and Solar LED articles in TQ

There were three excellent alternative energy articles in last week's Technology Quarterly from the Economist. Readers know I'm an avid battery investor, and the Economist's in depth History of the Battery is well worth reading for anyone who wants to gain insight into the promises and challenges awaiting developers and investors. My favorite battery investment, Electro Energy, last profiled here has seen considerable selling, having lost half its price since its peak in early January.  I still like the and own the stock. There is also a short article about the prospects for Enhanced Geothermal, one of my favorite...

Will Petrosun’s Algae Biodiesel Grow on Investors?

by Tom Konrad Celluslosic Ethanol is all the rage.  A less noticed, but significant "Biofuel 2.0" is biofuel based on algae. Follow the Biomass As I have consistently argued (see these recent articles on John Deere, Biogas, Cellulosic Ethanol vs Biomass Electricity, and Renewable or Green Diesel)  the people most likely to make money from biofuel are not the processors and distributors (who compete directly with petroleum or other fossil fuel-based products, and so have little pricing power), but the producers of feedstock, which, like oil, is in very limited supply, and so they will have pricing power....

The Week in Cleantech, March 9 to March 15, 2008: CARB may Kill Your...

jcwinnie at After Gutenberg detailed the Mcgyan process which promises to convert a much array of oil feedstocks into biodiesel with a reusable catalyst and less waste. AutoblogGreen plugged us in to Zap's new Prius PHEV conversion kit, but Green Car Congress brought us a study that warned we might need to do some serious water planning before such too many people start using them. On Monday, Craig Rubens at Earth-to-Tech painted a picture of a new photovoltaic coating from Corus Colors. On Wednesday, David Erlich at Cleantech.com rolled out the story of GE's...

Edison International Says Solar is the Great Untapped Resource

Cleantech Blog had a conversation last year with Stuart Hemphill, now the newly appointed Vice President for Renewables and Alternative Energy at Southern California Edison, a subsidiary of Edison International (NYSE:EIX), one of the largest purchasers of renewable power in the US. We caught up with him again today in a lively discussion around his predictions for the renewable sector. Today they are announcing their sixth competitive solicitation for renewable energy. On peak delivery from the Tehachapi region is preferred, as they are currently building a massive transmission line to tap into the 4,500 MW of wind potential....

Are Solar Incentives a Subsidy for the Rich?

by Tom Konrad One of the most common arguments against incentives to help people buy solar panels for their homes are that they are a subsidy for the rich, paid for by everyone.  The argument goes: only the rich can buy a photovoltaic system, which, even with subsidies, costs thousands of dollars.  Why should everyone chip in to help rich people buy new toys? On the face of it, this argument is persuasive.  Why should everyone pay, if only the rich get the benefit?   Basic fairness dictates that society should only subsidize activities which create societal (rather than individual...

Is Composite Technology Corporation Still a Buy?

by Tom Konrad When I asked, Alternative Energy Stocks readers overwhelmingly wanted me to take another look at Composite Technology Corp. (OTC BB:CPTC.OB)  I've discussed CPTC several times over the last year, and consider it my most speculative pick in electricity transmission and distribution.  True to the nature of a speculative stock with no current earnings which is still trying to establish markets for its products, the stock price has been all over the map. The reader interest is doubtless due to the recent sharp decline since mid January.  I personally sold a portion of...

The Week in Cleantech (Mar. 2 to Mar. 8) – King Coal Not Plentiful...

On Wednesday, David Strahan at The Guardian calculated some lump sums for us. A couple of years ago, when it became clear that we were running into serious supply problems with oil, one pundit after another told us that we would never have to worry about coal. After all, in the US alone, there was 250 years' worth of supply at current consumption rates. Well, that was then, and this is now. And if skyrocketing feedstock costs aren't enough to deter you from building a coal plant, maybe rising capital costs will. Is King Coal's reign looking shaky? It...

Calling for a Marshall Plan, not a Manhattan Project

Electricity too cheap to meter.  For many renewable energy advocates, that is the holy grail… new technology which will not only solve the problem of carbon emissions, but be so transformative that we no longer have to worry about turning off the lights when we leave the room. We could argue for days about the viability of any such technology, be it cold fusion, hydrogen, or photovoltaic nanodots.  I personally have strong opinions about the likelihood of any technology to produce energy so cheaply that it would not make sense to use some mechanism...

Gas Price Demand Elasticity

Here is an interesting article on the Carbon Tax Blog about dropping gas usage in the US due to sustained high prices.  As I've said before, now that peaking oil supply has made gasoline supply inelastic, price will have to be set by marginal demand... we're beginning to get a look at what the demand elasticity for gasoline is. But gas prices are not dropping.  US demand may actually be elastic, but world demand is not yet showing elasticity.  In large part, this is because most emerging economies and oil producing company consumers enjoy fixed price oil, courtesy of...

Ten Solid Clean Energy Companies to Buy on the Cheap: #1 Johnson Controls, Inc....

Johnson Controls (NYSE:JCI) has long been one of my favorite energy efficiency picks, with an added bonus coming from their joint venture with Saft to produce batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles.  They have also shown some energy saving innovation making parts for auto interiors. Building EfficiencyEfficient buildings are much more complex than simply replacing inefficient HVAC and lighting with more efficient versions.  Quite often, the most cost effective measures come from using systems more efficiently.  As an analogy to the home, look at any list of quick tips for energy saving around...