Crowdfunding and Clean Energy

by Beth Kelly The digital era has enabled an “entrepreneurial explosion”, equipping ordinary people with the tools to invest in a myriad of early stage companies. Rather than investing millions of venture capital at once, interested individuals can use online platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter to invest smaller sums in projects they feel passionate about. Crowdfunding holds vast potential in the renewable energy sector in particular, opening up a world of opportunity for both investors and “green” project developers. Now that renewable energy technology is becoming viable and cost-effective, firms in the industry are turning to crowdsourcing...

Japan Wants to be World Leader in Rare Earth Recycling

by Kidela Capital Group Necessity is the mother of invention and Japanese industry is discovering just how true that old saying is. Last year, a diplomatic spat between Japan and China led the world’s largest supplier of Rare Earth Elements (REEs) to suspend exports of Rare Earth oxides and other critical metals to its largest single client. Japan, like the rest of the world, is almost totally reliant on Chinese Rare Earth (RE) exports and the China’s action, which came as a shock to Japanese industry, is a sentient warning for the rest of the world....

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. ...

Getting in on Early-Stage Companies

Question from a Reader: (links mine, in case you have not read the articles I think he's referring to) Hi, I'm a very small time investor and I have a strong longterm belief in the alt energy sector. I have one gripe with the sector, though - the fact that it's hard to get in all the way at the bottom, ie: from the birth of companies. I have a feeling that much more growth will happen at that level, and investing in something like ICLN gets me into mature companies that have much less growth potential.  ...
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...

Keynes Meets Carson, And How You Can Invest It (Part 1)

I'm not sure whether John Maynard Keynes, the father of Keynesian economics and an ardent proponent of government interventionism during hard economic times, and Rachel Carson, the mother of modern environmentalism and the author whose work is credited for the eventual creation of the EPA, ever met during their lifetimes. But if current voter sentiment holds until November 4, their ideas could soon converge and form the basis of government policy for at least the next four years. Let me explain. First, John Maynard Keynes. There is no doubt that the deliberate and coordinated nationalization of financial services...

The Rare Earth Supply Chain: Ores, Concentrates, Compounds, Oxides and Metals

REE Refining 101 by Kidela Capital Group “There is a reason why the Rare Earths are called rare. They’re not called rare because they’re truly rare. They’re called rare because it’s very difficult to isolate these elements individually and it takes a lot of skill to do that.” Constantine Karayannopoulos, chief executive of Neo Material Technologies1 Rare Earth Elements have become an indispensable part of modern life, found in everyday items like computers, camera lenses and high efficiency light bulbs to complex, emerging technologies in the optics, medical and defence spheres....

Interest Rate Increase? FuhGettaBoutIt!

by Debra Fiakas CFA There has been considerable fuss in recent weeks about the Federal Open Market Committee decision to raise its benchmark interest rate.  The one-quarter point increase has finally been announced and investors now are watching with bated breath to see how the increased cost of funds at the Fed ‘window’ will impact borrowing costs for companies large and small.  In our Beach Boys Index of alternative energy producers, we found a number of companies that rely on debt as a capital source.  However, not all energy producers have debt.  So when Janet Yellen...

Human Capital, Not Venture Capital, the Biggest Cleantech Challenge

David Gold Building great businesses typically requires three key ingredients: phenomenal people, compelling technology and investment capital. Cleantech companies are no exception. While cleantech venture capital investments have expanded rapidly, averaging an annual growth rate of 65% over the past five years and now representing over 15% of all venture investments, the compelling technologies are mostly early in their development cycles and the human eco-system for early stage cleantech companies is in its infancy. There is much buzz about the venture capital and government funding that is being invested in cleantech companies,...

Will 2010 Be the Year of Cleantech Revenues, IPOs and, Maybe, Even Profits?

David Gold As a “gearhead” (engineer) I must admit I truly enjoy looking at all the cool technologies being developed by cleantech companies.  The promise of cleantech hinges, in part, on these innovations.  So it is not surprising that so much focus in the blogosphere and the press is given to the funding and development of these new technologies.  Much like the dot-com buzz in the mid-90s, today we celebrate the amazing innovations that are taking seed. But for cleantech to avoid the fate of synfuels of the ‘70s or that of many of the early...

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...

The Bailout Package & Renewable Energy

As most of you will probably know by now, the US Senate voted tonight to pass the $700 billion bailout package for the financial sector. As part of the this new version of the bill full of so-called "sweeteners", or measures meant entice certain individuals to vote in favor, lawmakers included a one-year extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind and an eight-year extension of the Investment Tax Credit for solar. Now the House must still vote on Friday, so this isn't a done deal just yet. However, although it probably won't get much attention in the...

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...

Energy Efficiency and Solar Lead Alternative Energy Stocks Skyward

By Harris Roen Industry Day Week Qtr Year Energy Efficiency -0.3% 2.3% 18.7% 49.9% Environmental -0.2% 1.1% 9.8% 11.8% Fuel Alternatives -0.3% 1.3% 19.6% 29.2% Smart Grid -0.1% 2.4% 9.5% 31.9% Solar 0.5% 6.8% 40.3% 52.8% Wind 0.0% 2.1% 9.7% 21.6% Average -0.1% 2.7% 17.9% 32.9% Data as of: 7/17/2013 Alternative energy stocks are up over 30% on average for the year, reflecting impressive gains off of widely oversold lows in 2012. Almost three-quarters of...

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: 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 &...