Will Rare Earths Cripple the Green Economy? Part 1

Eamon Keane Rare Earth Elements Eamon Keane This is Part One of a three part series based on a rare earth elements (REE) review which is available for download at slideshare, where references can be viewed. Part 1 is an introduction to REEs. Part 2 analyzes REE consumption and refining and Part 3 looks at how REEs might affect the green economy.  Rare earths captured the popular imagination a year or two ago. Since then a bonfire of reports, presentations and analyses have been published, with many generating more consulting fees...

What Obama Did To Coal Investors, What The Next President Might, And How Investors...

by Tom Konrad Ph.D., CFA Investing in the past is a good way to lose money.  Just ask anyone who has been investing in coal stocks since Obama we re-elected. A glance at the chart above shows that the VanEck Vectors Coal ETF (KOL) is down about 50% over the last four years, even while the broad market (as represented by the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY)) has gained almost 50%.  But even if we knew this was going to happen, should investors have rushed into the energy sectors most loved by liberals: That is, Wind, Solar,...

Chaos Theory, Financial Markets, and Global Weirding

Tom Konrad Ph.D. CFA In my bio, I usually state My study of chaos theory led to my conviction that knowing the limits of our ability to predict is much more important than the predictions themselves, a lesson I apply to both climate science and the financial markets. Despite having written about financial markets and clean energy stocks regularly since 2006, I have never before explained in print what I meant by that.  This summer's heat wave and stock market turbulence illustrate how my intuition about chaos theory informs both my understanding of the climate and...

The Buffett Shareholder Letter & Alt Energy

It is fair to say that most people continue to equate the terms "alternative" and "energy" with expensive, unreliable and plain unpractical. This naturally leads a majority of people to view alternative energy investing as a high-risk play on some unproven technology with an uncertain probability of success. This is a perception we've tried to dispel on several occasions, whether we were talking about blue chip alt energy stocks, dividend alt energy stocks or utility alt energy stocks. It's also fair to say that most people don't typically associate value investing and, by extension, ...

Solar: Energy, But Not Oil

by Garvin Jabusch Solar photovoltaic (PV) as a means of deriving energy is fundamentally different from fossil fuel-based commodities (oil, coal, and gas). Consider: A solar PV panel can be thought of as nothing more than a hugely oversized computer chip a bunch of circuitry embedded in a silicon wafer. Indeed, in most economic sector classification schemes (GICS, etc.), PV manufacturers are defined as "semiconductors," which is basically true (if misleading in other ways).  So different are the driving economics behind tech-based and commodities-based means of deriving energy, that we at Green Alpha are recommending to Standard &...

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....

Saudis Confirm Switch from Oil to Solar

By Jeff Siegel You probably wouldn't recognize him if you saw him on the street. Heck, you probably don't even know his name. But Ali Al-Naimi is one of the most powerful men in the world. As the Saudi oil minister and chairman of Saudi Aramco, Al-Naimi is not particularly popular with U.S. oil producers, especially after telling the media he didn't care if oil prices crashed to $20 because it was not in the interest of OPEC producers to cut production  regardless of price. Still, he remains the most influential oilman on the planet. Listed as one of Forbes' 50...

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...

Q4 2006 Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Indices Out

Ernst & Young's Renewable Energy Group just released the Q4 '06 update for its Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Indices (the document is not yet available on the website, but it should be soon). In the words of Ernst & Young," the Country Attractiveness Indices provide scores for national renewable energy markets, renewable energy infrastructures and their suitability for individual technologies." These indices thus provide useful information for investors wanting to assess the desirability of company exposure to certain markets. There are 3 indices (their names pretty much says what they are about): (a) the All Renewables...

What Does Clean Energy Cost?

Renewable Electricity cost estimates from a California transmission study and the investment implications. Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA The seemingly simple question, "How much does wind/solar/geothermal/etc. cost per kWh?" can be surprisingly difficult to answer.  Advocates often cite particularly low figures, but they are often based on particularly favorable conditions, or analyses that don't include all the costs (for instance, costs of permitting.)  Opponents do the opposite, often assuming particularly unfavorable conditions, or adding in costs which they would never consider adding in for their favored technology.  Adding to the confusion, levelized cost of generation calculations are very sensitive to...

Water Stocks: Better Than Oil Or Smartphones

By Jeff Siegel I've never understood it, but no one really gives a damn about water. Sure, it's the foundation of life. But what does that matter when we can get cheap smartphones and Internet-connected washing machines? Those things are exciting, and there's proverbial gold in those silicon hills. Don't get me wrong; I love technology and continue to profit handsomely by devoting a small portion of my portfolio to tech stocks. My point, however, is that while technology is great, without water, we die. It's pretty simple, really. Yet when it comes to investing, few investors take...

The Truth Ain’t That Incovinient Anymore, So What’s Next?

I attended Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth lecture in Toronto tonight. I assume many of you have seen the movie so I'm not going to go into the details of the presentation, which is essentially the same as the movie give-or-take a couple of slides. Instead, I'm going to share with you some of the thoughts I had as I was listening to the former VP. Firstly, I bought this whole climate change thing a long time ago and I've seen the movie, so substantively I got very little out of this. As with the movie, I...

Apologies For The Lack Of Posting

We wish to apologize for the lack of posting in the past few days. Tom has been on holidays and I have been very busy with work. We will be back with our normal posting schedule tomorrow. Best, Charles

Carbon War Room CEO: “Radical Incrementalism Will Fail”

Tom Konrad CFA The Richard Branson-backed nonprofit, the Carbon War Room is a group that thinks big in the battle against catastrophic climate change.  They're only interested in attacking problems with the potential to reduce carbon emissions on the gigaton scale, that is reducing emissions by a trillion tons a year.  No one nonprofit or even one multinational company can deploy the necessary capital to seize a fraction of the opportunities on this scale.  An annual gigaton of carbon emission reductions requires between $300 billion (Energy Efficiency) and $2 trillion (Solar PV) in up-front investment, according...

Graphene: It Is All In The Strategy

by Debra Fiakas CFA In the recent series of articles on graphene we have found a number of companies working on more efficient production processes and as well as applications for this exceptional material.  So beguiling graphene is  -  conductive, strong and pliable.  Scientists and investors alike have thought certainly graphene can provide that all-important ingredient that enhances value and creates profits.  In this post we look at two more companies that claim real progress in commercializing graphene materials.  Based in the UK, Applied Graphene Materials (AGM:  LON; APGMF:  OTC) reported no sales in 2014 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...