Monthly Archives: January 2009

Why Long Range EVs Can Never Be Cost Effective

by John Petersen America’s love affair with the automobile has always been based on the freedom of the road and the ability to hop in the car and drive wherever we want to go; be it to the corner store to buy a loaf of bread or out to the lake for a long weekend. Even though most of our trips are short, people invariably want the flexibility to go for a long drive when the open road beckons. Unfortunately, that mentality is disastrous when it comes to EV economics. I’ve been writing about energy...

Getting Fired-up On Cleaner Internal Combustion Technologies

Although the writing has been on the wall for some time now regarding Obama's willingness to move aggressively on the environment file, few expected his first substantive move to have to do with vehicle fuel economy. On Monday, the President requested that the EPA reassess its earlier decision (taken when the Bush administration was still in power) to deny California the right to set and enforce its own fuel economy and car emissions standards above and beyond those set at the federal level. Not only are California's standards much tougher than the current federal ones (the state is...

Options on Clean Energy ETFs

In my recent article about Green Energy Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), I said that there were two main criteria investors should consider when choosing one (the fund's expense ratio, and its investment universe.)  This is true for investors who are looking for a single investment in alternative energy, but if you are a more sophisticated investor or speculator, there's another important criterion: Is there a market for exchange traded options on the ETF? I personally love selling (a.k.a. "writing") options.  If the stock market is a casino, option sellers are the house.  Longtime readers will recall my article last...

Dipping a Toe in the Black Stuff

I was tempted by greed, and I succumbed. Last week, I bought the iPath S&P GSCI Crude Oil Total Return Index ETN (OIL), at $19.75 a share.   The Temptation I made the trade as a simple speculation.  I watch oil because the oil price is one of the key drivers of investor interest in alternative energy, although oil is only a true competitor for biofuel companies, not producers of wind turbines (at least until there are a significant number of plug-in electric vehicles.) With crude trading below $40/barrel, oil producers are cutting back on new drilling.  This is...

Alt Energy & Obama’s Inaugural Address

Most people have probably seen and/or listened to Barack Obama's inaugural speech by now. In the second presidential debate, Obama ranked energy as his top priority (the choices offered by the moderator were: healthcare, entitlement reform and energy). As I pointed out earlier this week, the President picked an inner energy and environment circle that is heavily tilted in one direction: combating climate change and promoting alternative energy. We were thus very interested to see if Obama would place a strong focus on energy issues in his inaugural speech given the precarious economic environment. After all, that...

Alternative Energy Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)

UPDATE 3/4/2011: An up-to-date article on selecting renewable energy ETFs can be found here. For investors looking for diversified exposure to Alternative Energy, Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) are the best option.  I have not found any statistical evidence that actively managed alternative energy  mutual funds can beat the market (and hence justify their higher fees,) so lower expense ratios make ETFs compelling.  Since last year, the wide variety of Alternative Energy ETFs also makes it possible to even speculate on subsectors.  People who expect Solar, Wind, or even Carbon Trading  to do better than Alternative Energy...

What’s In Store For Alternative Energy With Obama’s Cabinet?

As the Obama inauguration nears and his cabinet picks are made public, the impact of his presidency on the alternative energy sector is becoming more tangible. During the campaign, we heard plenty on Barack Obama's views on environmental regulation, climate change and alternative energy. But what about the people who will be advising him day-to-day on these matters, and who will be ambassadors both inside and out of the country for the administration's policies? One thing is for certain: Obama's picks so far for positions with influence on energy and environmental matters mark a clear break from...

What John Kenneth Galbraith Would Have Said About the Credit Crunch

John Kenneth Galbraith, renowned economist and author of the bestselling The Great Crash, 1929, died in 2006, and so he never saw the crash of 2008.  But he would not have been surprised.   I just finished reading his A Short History of Financial Euphoria: Financial Genius is Before the Fall, a treatise on bubbles and busts of history, starting with the Dutch Tulip Bubble of 1637 and ending with the crash of 1987. The book was written in 1989, but the message is still timely today.  Galbraith draws out the common factors of all financial...

Focus On Clean Power Income Trusts

Last week, Tom brought you a piece on the Algonquin Power Income Fund (AGQNF.PK), in which he opined that shift in investor attention away from capital gains toward yield might eventually provide a catalyst for the prices of yield-focused securities such as income trusts to rise. So-called utility trusts, or income trusts where the underlying corporation is engaged in utility activities such as power generation, are a common feature of the Canadian income trust sector (the mother of all income trust sectors). A sub-set of utility trusts is the clean power utility trust, where the power generation...

10 Green Energy Gambles for 2009

The credit crunch made me reassess my investing strategy last September.  First, my expectation of the lack of availability of credit for companies without reliable cash flow led me to sell several early stage and troubled companies.   Second, my experience of attempting to re-orient my portfolio in a hurry convinced me that I simply own too many companies.  For the purposes of diversifying company-specific risk, nearly all the benefits can be achieved with as few as 10 companies, if those companies have sufficiently different performance characteristics. In less ideal circumstances, 20-40 companies will usually be sufficient.  I currently own...

Some Tidbits From The World Of Emissions Trading

To be sure, the near-term prospects for carbon emissions trading are bleak. Continued decline in industrial production across the world's major manufacturing economies will inevitably lower carbon emissions. The clearest indicator of this, short of directly measuring emissions, is a sharp decline in the price of various fossil energy commodities (i.e. oil, natural gas and coal) on the back of falling demand. Another important factor for carbon emissions trading is that the commodity in play - the regulatory right to emit a unit of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) - derives its legitimacy entirely from a regulatory scheme...

Algonquin Power: A Renewable Energy Income Investment

The Pendulum Swings to Cash Over the long term, market cycles are characterized by swings of sentiment, and changes in investor preferences.  The recent cycle was characterized by an emphasis on growth and capital gains.  In the current financial crisis, investors are again learning the value of cash, and companies which produce steady cash flow and dividends.  Since the market tends to overshoot, I expect there will be a time a few years hence when, once again, the first question any investor asks about a stock is "What's the yield?" If I'm right, companies with strong cash flows that...

2008: The Year of (Un)Sustainable Biofuel

Last year, I used a special run of AltEnergyStocks.com's new Cleantech News (CTN) aggregator to bring you the ten stories of 2007 which bloggers found most interesting or controversial. Continuing the tradition, below are the ten stories of 2008 which Cleantech and Green Bloggers were talking about. One of my favorite features of CTN is how it not only provides links to the original articles, but also links to the articles referencing it. Hence the list below includes links to the entire conversation. Unsustainable Biofuels In January, The Gaurdian kicked things off with an article saying...

AltEnergyStocks.com’s Ten Best Competitors

When I began writing about clean energy investing in 2006, my competition was sparse.  The quality blogs with industry heavyweights were either not focused on investing, or were primarily focused on venture capital.  Now the world has changed.  I keep finding new blogs and writers with a strong focus on both clean energy and public companies.  Here are a few I'd like to share with readers: Dedicated Blogs Energy Tech Stocks - Three articles a day can be a little daunting, but that's what happens when you try to cover everything. Camino Energy - Their PurePlay indices are a...