The Week In Cleantech (May 3 – May 10) – Big News For Energy Efficiency

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On Sunday, Jim Fraser at Energy Blog reported a claim by Sungri that it can produce 5-7 cents per kWh CSP. This is quite the claim, and if true, would represent nothing short of big bang for the solar space. Nevertheless, I remain wholly unconvinced. On Sunday, John Laumer at TreeHugger told us that Waste Management was going to fuel Altamont (CA) area trucks with landfill-harvested liquid natural gas. Landfill gas (LFG) can be used for both power generation and for liquid fuel production. I did a bit of research into this a few months ago and, with the right kind of incentive, LFG could become a valuable asset for firms and municipalities with the right to it. This is an area to keep an eye on. On Tuesday, Jozef Winter at ecogeek discussed Xcel Energy’s announcement of a $100 million investment for ‘Smart Grid’ initiatives. This is good news for the energy efficiency space, especially as smart grid/efficiency stocks have been struggling over the past while (see COMV and ENOC). I see energy efficiency as a low-hanging fruit with plenty of potential, but unfortunately there aren’t sufficient incentives yet to drive massive investments in this space. It is therefore encouraging to see a mainstream utility make a large capital commitment to the concept. On Friday, Keith Johnson at the WSJ’s Environmental Capital wondered why pricey oil wasn’t helping cleantech stocks more. Sure, alt energy stocks are decoupled from the price of oil on the upside, but it’s still unclear whether this decoupling would hold on the downside. The broader point from this story: alt energy earnings remain volatile and so alt energy stock prices are volatile. On Friday, Eric Savitz at Barron’s Tech Trader Daily told us that Citi sees a solar glut in 2009 and 2010. So the solar-cell makers with low cost structures will get a competitive edge in a situation of general oversupply – no big surprise here. But who will have an edge in consolidating the industry?

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