Monthly Archives: August 2008

Climate Change Will Hurt The Poor Most But the Solutions Don’t Have To

The International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology (iCAST) helps communities use local resources to solve their own problems.  I've been a fan of iCAST's approach of teaching people how to fish (or, in this case, how to apply sustainable technologies) rather than giving away fish since I first encountered them at a conference in 2006.  Last week, they took advantage of some of their own local resources (namely the fact that the DNC was in Denver) to organize a luncheon with a panel of nationally recognized speakers, any one of whom would have been enough to draw a...

The Week In Cleantech (Aug. 24 to Aug. 30) – And The Tax Credit...

On Sunday, Technology Review showed us the first tidal power generator. Harnessing the ocean's power is the next frontier in utility-scale alternative power generation, but this has so far proven difficult given all that the sea can throw at what humans try to put in it. This installation produces power at a hefty 0.30 to 0.40/kWh, but scale can bring this down to 0.20/kWh. Cut that in half again and now you're talking. On Monday, Clean Edge told us that Schott was planning a partial spin-off of its PV unit through an IPO. Given the headwinds the Eurozone...

Playing The BC Hydro Clean Power Call

At a time when many people see clouds on the horizon for US wind, one Canadian jurisdiction is moving full-swing ahead with a procurement for renewable power. British Columbia (BC), Canada's westernmost province, announced in June the launch of its Clean Power Call, an initiative aimed at sourcing 5,000 GWh of clean power. The structure of this process is distinctly Canadian and similar to what has occurred in the provinces of Quebec and Ontario. Like a US RPS, the government sets a target for renewable or clean power that the utility meets through procuring the electricity from private...

Why Clean Energy Investors Need to Care About Politics

Tom Konrad I believe that investments in clean energy should outperform the market as a whole for two reasons.  First, the inability of fossil fuel supplies to keep up with demand will raise prices and improve the environment for alternatives.  Second, growing awareness of the seriousness of Climate Change will lead to increased regulation of greenhouse gas pollution, which should benefit clean energy relative to conventional energy. While I am certain that at some point reality will galvanize public opinion and political action on climate change, the sooner the politicians take action, the better for the planet, and the...

Five Alternative Energy Stocks I’ll Research “One of These Days”

I have more ideas than I have time to explore them, and it's getting out of hand.  I still need to write the promised articles on Evergreen Solar (ESLR) and Lithium Technology Corp (LTHU), but there are many others that have caught my attention over the last six months or so.  Since the list keeps getting longer, I thought I'd just give you a taste of some of the companies in my inbox, and why they seem interesting.  Since I may or may not ever write articles about any of these, I thought I'd give people the opportunity to...

The Week In Cleantech (Aug. 17 to Aug. 23) – Do We Need An...

The Economist is currently running an interesting poll on whether we can solve our energy problems with existing technologies or whether we will need breakthrough innovations. Add your vote! On Sunday, Domenick Yoney at AutoBlog Green told us that electric bike sales were soaring world-wide. I'm not sure what's a good play on this, but an interesting trend to note nonetheless. On Monday, Matthew McDermott at TreeHugger told us about another biofuel feedstock we may not have considered. Earlier this summer, David Pauly at Bloomberg was telling us about yet another such potential feedstock, which apparently is...

Wind Energy ETFs: A Comparison

Three weeks ago, I wrote on the year ahead for the US wind sector and said I would analyze the two new wind ETFs now available to US investors: the First Trust ISE Global Wind Energy Index Fund (FAN) and the PowerShares Global Wind Energy Portfolio (PWND). While I don't currently have a position in either ETF as I expect headwinds in the US (no pun intended) to place downward pressure on some of the global wind stocks in the next few months (the US accounted for 27% of global installed capacity in '07), I still intend to...

How to Invest in the Pickens Plan

A friend recently asked me how to invest in the Pickens Plan.  I named a stock (see below). He then surprised me by saying "You are the fifth person I've asked, and no one else knew how.  Several said it could not be done." You can invest in T. Boone Pickens's plan.  Here's how: The Plan T. Boone's plan is both simple and audacious.   We will build wind farms all over the Great Plains. Build the necessary transmission to get that electricity to cities, displacing natural gas used in electricity generation for the use in automobiles.   This will...

Three Years After Katrina and Rita, New Orleans’ Grassroots Effort Brightens Environment, Community

The following is a Special Information Supplement by our Featured Company Green Light New Orleans. Fundamental Concerns of Some Local Residents Addressed by Non-Profit New Orleans, Louisiana - Green Light New Orleans, an energy efficiency program, is still helping to rebuild New Orleans. Equal parts environmental and social aid, the non-profit's solution to mitigate carbon emissions while helping low-income residents has demonstrated once again that simple ideas can result in remarkable impact. Green Light New Orleans sends volunteers to area homes to install free compact fluorescent light bulbs, educate homeowners on the energy saving and environmental...

U.S. Geothermal, Inc (AMEX: HTM)

US Geothermal, Inc. (AMEX:HTM) ) is one of only two pure-play geothermal power companies traded on US exchanges.  The other is Ormat (NYSE:ORA), a vertically integrated company widely considered to be the industry leader.  As baseload, extremely reliable power, Geothermal fits easily into utilities existing grids, making it a popular source of green power, especially with utilities uncomfortable with the intermittent and difficult to predict nature of wind and solar.   Unlike wind and solar, the potential resource for geothermal power is quite small relative to electricity demand. At least until Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) technology is commercialized,...

The Week In Cleantech (Aug. 10 to Aug. 16) – Big Solar Getting Ready...

On Sunday, Tom Philpott at Peak Energy told us about The End of Food. The book, that is. While food is neither alt energy not cleantech, it is a key environmental theme in my view and will grow in importance as the effects of climate change are felt across the globe. On Monday, David McClellan at Solve Climate argued that the costs of nuclear energy were rising out of reach. A good attempt at coming up with a comparison of wind and nuclear prices, and interesting in the context of my earlier article on power plant costs. ...

When the Wind Blows

In the past, readers have challenged my assertion that wind in the Great Plains blows mostly in the winter.  In fact, I was once taken to task for it by a Colorado State Representative (a know-nothing Republican from suburbia) when I was testifying as to the advantages of Solar in Colorado in terms of timing.  In the past, I've only had secondary references to "NREL data," and ERCOT's Analysis of Transmission Alternatives for Competitive Renewable Energy Zones in Texas (pdf, 8MB), where wind in the Texas panhandle also conforms to this pattern. However, I was just browsing NREL's Wind...

CSP & CPV INVESTMENT AND FINANCE SUMMIT USA

The following is a Special Information Supplement by our Featured Company sponsor CSP Today. Secure the Investment & Financing Your CSP/CPV Projects Need For Commercial Success If you're serious about doing business in the Concentrated Solar Power market (set to be worth over $200bn!) and need to meet and hear from the leading Investment & Finance players in the industry such as Khosla Ventures, Abengoa Solar, Google, BP Alternative Energy, HSH Nordbank, Ausra and many more.. (http://www.csptoday.com/usafinance) Then you need to join the 150+ delegates who are attending the CSP & CPV Investment and Finance Summit...

Power Plant Costs & The Case For Energy Efficiency

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a presentation that was given by FERC officials on the phenomenon of rapidly rising costs in US power generation (presentation link at the end of this post). The FERC, or Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, is America's energy watchdog. The presentation begins by noting that across America's major electricity hubs, power prices are up significantly on last year (between 62% in the Midwest and 123% in NYC) and that, unfortunately, this probably isn't an anomaly. In fact, the presentation argues, there may be something secular at play. Two main trends are noted....

Hydropower: The Renewable Energy Elephant in Room

There is a form of renewable energy which accounts for approximately one sixth of world electrical generation, and unlike wind and solar has a natural form of storage which costs a fraction of any other form of electricity storage, and has black start capability.  Given all these positive characteristics, it may seem surprising that we have not yet written about it.  The renewable energy in question is Hydropower, and the reason we've not covered it before is that the facilities are typically owned and run by governments or diversified utilities.   Until now, the only Hydropower investments I have been...

Some Thoughts on Water, Electricity and Climate Change

Most forms of electricity generation use water.  Thermal generation (coal, natural gas, nuclear, biomass, and Concentrating Solar Power (CSP)) evaporate water for cooling, although they can substitute air cooling, but only by sacrificing efficiency.  Moving in the other direction, many dry coastal regions use desalinization to essentially convert electricity into clean drinking water.   A plant  was recently approved in Southern California, despite environmental concerns. Lack of water use is one of the less recognized advantages of wind and solar photovoltaic generation, but is a significant advantage in the arid West.  Next week, I will be publishing an article which...