DOE Questions the Presumption of Plenty

John Petersen     "A man's got to know his limitations ..."                 Inspector Harry Callahan                     Magnum Force, 1973 Last Thursday the Department of Energy kicked-off a new effort "to develop its first-ever strategic plan for addressing the role of rare earth and other materials in energy technologies and processes" by issuing a Request for Information on resource availability and supply chain security. The information categories covered include short- and long-term: Demand forecasts for energy applications and competing issues; Supply issues including investment trends, processing requirements and future...

Financing Clean Energy: Perspectives

Tom Konrad, Ph.D. I recently moderated a panel on Financing Renewable Energy for the Colorado CFA Society.  I took down choice quotes, with the plan of using them on Alt Energy Stocks' new twitter feed.   I ended up with enough material for a short article. My panelists were Garvin Jabusch, COO of Green Alpha Advisors, a green-focused investment advisory firm in Boulder; David Gold, a partner at Access Venture Partners, and manager of their Cleantech investments, and Brian Greenman, of Greenman Financial Advisors, who does project development and finance for community wind developers.  The broad range of perspectives seemed...

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...

ESG5 Summit brief

A conference hosted in NYC in early April, 2019 ESG5 SUMMIT showcased the issues of current concern to institutional asset managers.  ESG as a term is a rebranding of SRI (socially responsible investing) and CSR (corporate social responsibility) now under broad headings of Environment Social & Governance, to reflect that it is more than just an investing style, but is concerned with risk management and value creation.   ESG strategies are being pursued by a range of participants, including public and private pension funds, mutual funds and ETFs, family offices and sovereign wealth funds, and advisors and advocacy groups. The goals are...

Renewable Energy Stocks By Dollars Per Watt

Tom Konrad CFA Disclosure: I and my clients own HASI and BEP. I have short call positions in NYLD and PEGI, and short put positions in PEGI. Dollars per watt ($/W) is a lousy measure of the economics of solar, but it persists. Most likely, it persists because it seems familiar.  We can pay $4 for a watt of solar, or $4 for a Iced Hazelnut Macchiato at Starbucks.  Unfortunately, while the analogy may seem apt, this is a lot like knowing you’re getting a Macchiato without knowing if it’s a Tall, Grande, or Venti.  The actual energy production from a...

If Energy Were Free and Unlimited…

David Gold As soon as gas prices rise, our nation becomes focused on energy.  When they drop again, it falls off most consumers’ radar.  Yet the importance of energy goes way beyond the cost of filling up your gas tank or paying your electric bill.  In often-extraordinary ways, energy is interwoven into absolutely everything that we need to live or that we love to do.  One of the most useful tricks I learned in engineering school is that to put any problem in perspective, it helps to ask what if things were...

When The Supreme Court Weighs In, Investors Better Pay Attention

Things got a little tougher for the Bush White House yesterday, when the Supreme Court effectively slapped it on the wrist for its position on climate change by ordering the EPA to justify its lack of action on the climate file with substantive arguments (i.e. the Court buys the IPCC's story rather than Bush's). Things Just Keep On Piling This ruling adds to a long list of recent events that render it increasingly difficult for climate nay-sayers to hold the fort. The most significant such events are: (a) one of the top Republican politicians...

Alternative Energy & Conventional Energy: Is An Image Worth A Thousand Words?

It wasn't long ago that people still believed the price of energy commodities - and crude oil in particular - had a greater impact on alt energy stocks than did general movements in equity markets or even fundamental factors. The logic went something like this: even though oil and most of the sub-sectors that make up the broad alt energy space (e.g. solar) are not in direct competition with one-another, expensive oil is the number one driver behind governments searching for alternatives to the way we currently meet our energy needs. For a time, this theory may have...

Will We Have Too Much Generation for Renewables?

Too Many Brownies Before Dinner "When you feed your kid six brownies before dinner, you can't expect him to eat the salad, no matter how good it is."  So says Leslie Glustrom, a long term renewable energy advocate.  This is her metaphor for why Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) has been reluctant to pursue Demand Side Management (DSM) and renewable energy projects in Colorado as they have been in Minnesota.  Because Xcel is currently constructing 500 MW of new coal-fired generation, and they are also interested in a 300-350 MW IGCC plant by 2013, they may have little demand for...

2013: Green Economy Inflection Point

Garvin Jabusch There are a few truths that make the fundamental case that investing in the emerging next economy is the clearest path to long term competitive portfolio performance. First, innovation – meaning improving economic output without increasing material or capital inputs - always wins. This is simply how capitalism works, money chasing the best ideas, and has been the basis of the industrial revolution. Second, successfully mitigating the worst effects of economically and societally disastrous climate change (that we're not already irreversibly committed to) will save enormous costs, provide generational investment opportunities and also be inestimably economically stimulative....

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...

Energy Trends That Matter For Investors

By Harris Roen The US is by far the world’s greatest user of energy per capita in the world. Each American uses about 87,000 kilowatt-hours per year – that is twice as much as the European Union (EU), the next closest consumer! Understanding energy trends in this country is extremely important for investors who want to understand how the energy landscape will look 10, 20 or 30 years from now. Figure 1: Global Per Capita Energy Use The U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) made public an early release of its in-depth Annual Energy Outlook. This...

Why Alternative Energy Stocks

Are Alternative energy stocks the Microsoft of the future? If you invested $1,000 in MSFT back in 1986 your investment would now be worth over $300,000. If you really believed in the Personal Computing industry you could have also invested in companies like Intel, Apple, and Cisco at bargain basement prices.

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 &...

Can America Regain the Rare Earths Crown?

by Kidela Capital Group A rare earth element is like air. It only seems to become important when you are running out. With China suddenly cutting back on exports while controlling 95 percent of the world’s production of rare earth elements, the United States and other countries suddenly finds themselves vulnerable. This vulnerability has to do with the stability of the supply of these strategic commodities. Countries from around the world have suddenly woken up to the realization that the future of their high technology industries could be in the hands of one supplier – China. In the...

Are the Declines in Solar and Wind Stocks Structural, or Cyclical?

Tom Konrad, CFA Last week, I asked three green money managers if they thought cleantech stocks, especially solar and wind sectors were near a bottom.  While they did tell me about eight cleantech value stocks, they were not ready to call the bottom. Commoditization in Clean Energy In response to my questions, Rafael Coven, the manager of the Cleantech Index (^CTIUS), which is the index behind the Powershares Cleantech Portfolio ETF (PZD,) ...