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...

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...

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...

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. ...

The Peak Coal Portfolio

Last week, we alerted you to a report from Germany's Energy Watch Group called “Coal: Resources and Future Production,��? which predicts peak coal by 2025.  Readers of AltEnergyStocks are doubtless familiar with peak oil, the inevitable fact that as we consume a finite resource (oil reserves) at some point the rate of that consumption must peak, and taper off.  Serious arguments about peak oil center around "when" oil production (and consumption) will peak, not "if."   The same it true for other finite natural resources, such as natural gas, uranium, and even coal.  The difference with coal is the received...

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...

2006 & Alt Energy Investing: 6 Key Points to Remember from a Great Year

It is customary, at the dawn of a new year, to reflect back on the past year’s highlights. This exercise is generally conducted immediately before the new year, so you could say I’m a little late. However, this time around, instead of creating my own list of key things to remember from 2006, I decided to see what the heavy hitters in the alt energy and clean tech spaces had to say. I picked 3 sources that I read religiously and that all published such a list for '06. They are: Clean Break, Cleantech Blog and Red Herring....

Renewable Energy Stocks By The kWh

Tom Konrad CFA Disclosure: Long BEP.  Short PEGI $20 and $25 puts, short PEGI $30 and $35 calls, short NYLD $40 and $45 calls. I recently sized up five renewable energy power producers using the metric that’s most often used for solar panels: Dollars per Watt ($/W).  It’s an intuitive metric, but has serious flaws both for evaluating solar installations and stocks.  Slightly better is Watts per Dollar (or W/$100 to make the numbers look nice) as shown in the chart from that article below. The main advantage of W/$100 over $/W is that it’s additive: I can meaningfully...

Book Review: Investment Opportunities for a Low Carbon World (Geothermal + Efficiency)

Charles Morand Last Thursday, I reviewed two chapters from the recently published book "Investment Opportunities for a Low Carbon World"*. This post reviews two more.  Geothermal Energy Alexander Richter, Glitnir Bank (now Íslandsbanki) Geothermal is one of the most interesting forms of clean power generation there is. As noted by the author, the most convincing argument for geothermal electricity is the fact that it operates at capacity factors in the upper 90s. This makes it the only renewable technology suitable for baseload power with the exception of dam-based (i.e. large-scale) hydro. However, as...

Our Investments Matter

The stocks and mutual funds we own have a real effect on the behavior of the companies we choose (not) to invest in.

Can Public Equity Investing Have Impact?

by Garvin Jabusch There’s an argument in the world of impact investing that goes something like, "impact happens only through private investments; there is no real impact, apart from shareholder engagement efforts, in public equity investing." An associated perception is that investment impact means capitalizing an enterprise beyond what would happen otherwise, meaning private equity alone has the power to provide real impact. But is this true? Publicly traded corporations are the largest and most visible social and environmental bellwethers of the global economy, and the high allocation to public equities in most investor portfolios means public equity...

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....

Alternative Energy Stock Returns, Past and Future

By Harris Roen Alternative energy became a serious market player after the turn of the millennium. Since that time, solar, wind, smart grid and other alternative energy stocks have experienced both strong up and down trends. The forces at work driving these markets are complex, counterintuitive, and sometimes mysterious. This article looks at what has been driving the price of alternative energy markets, and as a result, alternative energy company stocks. Looking ahead, we will also consider what should affect the direction of alternative energy stock prices. Past trends in Alternative Energy Stocks The Wilder Hill...

Book Review: Investment Opportunities for a Low Carbon World (Cleantech Indexes, Funds and ETFs)

Charles Morand This is the third installment of my review of the book book "Investment Opportunities for a Low Carbon World". The second installment covered geothermal power and energy efficiency and the first installment covered wind and solar. This post reviews three interrelated chapters on the world of cleantech and alt energy indices, funds and ETFs. Two of these three chapters are my favorite in the book so far -  they provide very useful information for the novice investor with an interest in alt energy investing but limited time and knowledge for successful stock picking.  Cleantech...

Why Investing Should Be Moral

Last night, a recent finance graduate introduced himself to me, telling me he had attended my presentation at the Colorado Renewable Energy Society on July 24th. (the whole presentation is available after the link, scroll down to Jul 24.)  He said he wasn't invested in clean energy because "Investing is about making money... there's nothing moral about it."   I'm sure I was quite sarcastic when I replied, "That sounds like a finance major." I believe that finance and economics, as they are currently taught, make people less moral.  I'm not talking about God.  I'm personally agnostic with tendencies towards...

Divesting: Last One Out Loses

Tom Konrad CFA Anew report written by Nathaniel Bullard at Bloomberg New Energy Finance highlights the difficulties large institutional investors would have divesting from fossil fuels. What it does not specifically discuss is that these difficulties could lead to large financial losses for investors who see the difficulty of divesting as a reason to delay. Just as we can't easily fill up our cars with solar power instead of gasoline, the report points out that there is no asset class that can directly substitute for oil and gas in large institutional portfolios. A person...