Stocks We Love to Hate

Investing in clean energy is both an economic and a moral decision.  From an economic perspective, I believe that constrained supplies of fossil fuels (not just Peak Oil, but also Peak Coal and Natural Gas) are leading to a permanent rise in the value of all forms of energy.  From a moral perspective, I know that we and the vast majority of our children are limited to this one planet for generations to come, so we should abuse it as little as possible, so, of all the possible forms of energy to invest in, clean energy (Renewable and...

Sustainable Investment Opportunity In 2017

by Garvin Jabusch Lord Nicholas Stern recently said, “Strong investment in sustainable infrastructurethat’s the growth story of the future. This will set off innovation, discovery, much more creative ways of doing things. This is the story of growth, which is the only one available because any attempt at high-carbon growth would self-destruct .” More pointedly, the Investment Bank division at Morgan Stanley in 2016 advised clients that long-term investment in fossil fuels may be a bad financial decision, writing, “Investors cannot assume economic growth will continue to rely heavily on an energy sector powered predominantly by fossil fuels." What...

Solar & Storage Finance Conference Notes

I attended the Solar & Storage Finance conference hosted in NYC in late October 2018.  Presenters included a mix of capital providers & asset managers, private non-profit entities & public agencies, legal, accounting & consulting firms, intermediaries, firms providing risk analysis, ratings & mitigation, & various vendors of energy storage and IT-related services.  The tone of the discussions was noteworthy for its near total absence of ideological comments about environmental urgency.   Rather, it was a meeting of finance technicians and technocrats focused on the nuts & bolts of accomplishing those ends, with the merits and relevance of mission assumed. The...
decarbonization

Green New Deal Roadmap – Accelerating Renewable Energy Infrastructure Development

Investment in renewable energy is rising, but clearly needs to grow faster to meet the goals for an expedited transition away from carbon infrastructure if we are to avoid dangerous climate change, given that now even the Trump administration forecasts a 7°C increase by 2100, which would be catastrophic. The Paris Agreement determined that in order to keep warming below 2°C, the global economy would need to be restricted to a 600 gigaton carbon “budget”, and completely decarbonize by 2040. Emissions must be cut by 70% in the Paris-congruent Remap case, and 90% of those cuts in energy-related CO2 emissions can...

Clean Energy Stocks to Fill the Nuclear Gap

Tom Konrad, CFA If the Japanese use less nuclear power, what will take its place? I'm astounded by the resilience and discipline of the Japanese people in response to the three-pronged earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, perhaps in large part by my cultural roots in the egocentric United States, where we seem to have forgotten the virtue of self-sacrifice for the greater good.  Yet while Japanese society has shown itself to be particularly resilient, the Japanese electric grid is much less resilient.  According to International Energy Agency statistics, Japan produced 258 TWh of electricity from...

Molycorp: Holding a Stinky Bag

by Debra Fiakas CFA   Last week news agencies reported plans by Molycorp (MCPIQ:  NYSE) to move forward with plans to sell major assets as part of a plan to emerge from bankruptcy.  Molycorp was the single largest producer of rare earths in the U.S. until it discontinued product at its Mountain Pass mine in Colorado.  Molycorp filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2015 after it became apparent that it could no longer support the debt on its balance sheet on historically low selling prices for its rare earth materials. The turn of the tide for Molycorp...

A Sign Of The Times

Alt energy investors figured out early on in this crisis that a widespread shut-down of credit markets coupled with a substantial re-pricing of risk would not bode well for the industry. That's why alt energy stocks have outdone the overall market to the downside over the past year, with the iShares S&P Global Clean Energy Index (ICLN) down more than 60% Vs. the S&P 500 loosing a little under 40% over the same period. Much of this carnage occurred before any real impacts on alt energy had been felt (current prices in equity markets are generally forward- rather...
Energy A Human History by Richard Rhodes

Richard Rhodes, “Energy: A Human History”

Richard Rhodes has written an amazing book. He aspired to tell the tales of energy transitions over the past 400 years. His Energy: A Human History accomplishes that task. The book is daunting in size for non-required reading. It is filled with brief stories of this or that device or discovery or development, and almost overwhelming in both scope and detail. I wondered, at times, when the payoff would come. My advice: If you are at all interested in the topic, stick with it. To my economics-trained mind the book lacks analytical structure. One story after another, linked together by fuel source or technology, layer...

Alternative Energy: The Paradigm is the Problem

Tom Konrad CFA Can We Afford Alternative Energy? Most serious critiques of alternative energy boils down to, "it costs too much." True, detractors of wind power sometimes point to the number of birds and bats killed, and some people worry that electric vehicles (EVs) are so quiet that they pose a danger to blind pedestrians.  While such critiques are legitimate in that they are real problems, they can also be alleviated.  Avian fatalities can be greatly reduced by more sensitive siting of wind turbines, and even painting turbines purple.  Nissan has installed an...

Six Questions to Ask a Venture Capitalist in the First Five Minutes

David Gold So, you’re at a networking event and you get an opportunity to talk with a Venture Capitalist (VC) for just a few minutes. After breaking the ice with quick introductory formalities, you present your elevator pitch, right? Wrong. How can you possibly capture that VC’s interest if you don’t know what excites them? Would you try to sell meat to a vegetarian or bricks to a carpenter? Not if you knew a little about their needs and interests!  When you are raising money, you are selling yourself and your company to your prospective...
solar storage and finance

Conference Brief – Solar & Storage Finance

Renewable energy finance has many different kinds of participants, as revealed recently at the Solar & Storage Finance conference hosted in NYC.  .   Listening to the live actors from the financial side of the renewable power industry moved the issues off the page, to a more concrete experience of their specific concerns, including the extent to which their distinct missions were siloed, how they are competitive, and how they synergize. The presentations were organized to highlight these differences.  Several panel discussions were set back-to-back the contrast between lenders vs tax equity investors, both in terms of their goals, but also...

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...

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....

Growing Market Skepticism Towards Chinese Renewable Energy

Bottom line: Weak share reactions to upbeat news from Trina, ReneSola and Ming Yang reflect investor skepticism towards new energy stocks, as they face lingering issues of overcapacity and phasing out of government subsidies. A flurry of upbeat news is in the headlines today from 3 of China’s largest new energy equipment makers, led by a return to the profit column for solar panel maker ReneSola (NYSE: SOL) after a year in the red. At the same time, wind power equipment maker Ming Yang (NYSE: MY) also announced its latest quarterly results that were quite upbeat, and solar panel...

The Alternative Energy Revolution – Summary of Industry Sectors

Last week I was speaking to Jim Atkinson of Guinness Atkinson Funds (or GA Funds) (see Disclosure below). Jim sent me document or research paper called, "The Alternative Energy Revolution" which was written in April 2006. The document is usually accompanied by a prospectus for the GA Alternative Energy Fund. Today, I am not commenting on the fund itself but will summarize some of the information I found important in "The Alternative Energy Revolution" paper. A link to the document itself follows my summary. Please note, I am simply presenting the information and numbers in the document. ...

Do You Need To Invest In Oil To Benefit From Expensive Oil?

Two months ago, Tom told us how he'd dipped a toe into the black stuff (i.e. bought the OIL etf) on grounds that current supply destruction related to the depressed price of crude oil would eventually lead to the same kind of supply-demand crunch that led oil to spike during the 2004 to mid-2008 period. If you need evidence that the current price of crude is wreaking havoc in the world of oil & gas exploration, look no further than Alberta and its oil sands. The oil sands contain the second largest oil reserves in the world after...