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...

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...

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.

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...

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...

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...

Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) Tax Equity Conference Brief

I recently attended the Solar Energy Industry Association's (SEIA) Finance and Tax Seminar in New York. The subject matter in this event delved into issues related to tax equity finance.  Each panel session was moderated by a tax attorney or an accountant, and most of the content of the sessions consisted of technical tax law. To place the discipline into context, one speaker noted that the tax equity renewables investing deal volume in 2018 was $2-3B for solar and $9B for wind, and the number of tax equity participants is roughly only 25-35 large corporations.  So unless there are changes...

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...

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...

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....

What’s In Store For Cleantech Stocks?

Tom Konrad Ph.D., CFA talks with four investors about the rocky year ahead for the stock market and the likely impact of the market correction. Note: This article was first published on GreenTechMedia on January 21st. With the markets in free fall since the start of the year, many investors are rightfully worried about their portfolios' rapid declines. Although one of the biggest drivers of recent declines has been the fall in fossil fuel (especially oil) prices, clean energy investors have been far from immune. Is it time for clean energy investors to run...

The Ontario Feed-in Tariff For Alternative Energy

Last month, I wrote about how Ontario, North America's 6th largest jurisdiction by population, had tabled a Green Energy Act to boost the alternative energy industry's growth in the province. In that post, I mentioned that officials would soon release the rules for a feed-in tariff (FIT) system. FITs, which pay fixed rates for renewable power, are all but absent in North America, although they are popular incentive in Europe. Germany's FIT is largely responsible for that country's dominance in solar PV today despite mediocre sun conditions.  Ontario released the draft rules and proposed prices for...

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...

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...

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 &...

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....