Here comes the sun….not

Marc Gunther   Germany, once the world’s leading market for solar power, is pulling back its subsidies. Q Cells (QCLSF.PK), once the world’s largest solar company, just went bankrupt. This isn’t happy news. If the country that birthed the Green Party cannot sustain its support for solar, what does that tell the rest of us? It should tell us that it’s time (actually way past time) to get serious about energy and climate policy. This week, as I followed the news from Germany, I talked with a couple of energy-policy experts who I respect–Jesse Jenkins of the...

Trick and Treat: Energy loans under review, as Hallowe’en looms

Jim Lane The Obama Administration got tricked, and handed out some bad energy loan candy. Turns out that the Washington press corps, and House Republicans, were asleep on the job, too. Until the money ran out, that is. We’re not sure if there’s been any more perfect timing for an Obama Administration announcement, than the news that it will start up an investigation of the DOE loan guarantee program just as Hallowe’en weekend got underway. Hallowe’en, is of course, the time of disguise, the celebration of the macabre, and the ghostly return of the...
ethanol ups and downs

Fortunately, Unfortunately: The Spring Saga of American Ethanol

by Jim Lane The ethanol signals from Washington DC are more inexplicably mixed than cocktails with names like Sex on the Beach. Let’s parse through the wigwagging over the future of American biofuels supply and demand — ethanol and otherwise. Fortunately: Trump backs year-round E15 ethanol blends In Washington, President Trump endorsed year-round E15 ethanol availability as an emerging compromise between oil refiners and US farm sector. The Renewable Fuel Standard is a federal program that requires transportation fuel sold in the United States to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels. The RFS originated in a bi-partisan Congress with the Energy Policy Act...

The Microeconomics of Green Jobs

Tom Konrad Ph.D. CFA Much fuss has been made about green jobs. Do they exist, and are more “brown” jobs displaced for every green one? Given all the political rhetoric, it’s not surprising that there is also considerable confusion about green jobs. There should not be. While pinpointing the actual number of jobs created or destroyed by any particular policy will always be fraught, the underlying microeconomics are rather simple, and understanding those microeconomics can make it clear if a given policy will be a net creator or destroyer of jobs. While there are many considerations that should be...
Vote

The Environment Is On The Ballot. Vote November 6th

AltEnergyStocks.com first endorsed a presidential candidate in 2008.  We endorsed Barack Obama based on his more pro-environmental, pro-alternative energy stance compared to his opponent, John McCain.  Choosing between John McCain and Barack Obama took some research, since both candidates struck a somewhat pro-environment tone.  Our choice rested on the fact that Obama seemed to have a deeper commitment to environmental causes.  Our 2012 endorsement of Obama over Romney was also based on a comparison of their proposed policies. Fast-forward to 2016, and the decision between the candidates was no longer one that required much analysis.  The choice could not have...

What’s In Store For Alternative Energy With Obama’s Cabinet?

As the Obama inauguration nears and his cabinet picks are made public, the impact of his presidency on the alternative energy sector is becoming more tangible. During the campaign, we heard plenty on Barack Obama's views on environmental regulation, climate change and alternative energy. But what about the people who will be advising him day-to-day on these matters, and who will be ambassadors both inside and out of the country for the administration's policies? One thing is for certain: Obama's picks so far for positions with influence on energy and environmental matters mark a clear break from...

Clean Energy Finance Experts United Against Trump

by Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA This website, AltEnergyStocks.com, endorsed Barack Obama for President in 2008 and 2012.  In those two elections, we based our endorsements on a point-by-point analysis each candidates' energy policies, favoring the candidate who expressed the strongest support for policies to transition our economy away from its dependence on fossil fuels. This year, the comparison is so stark a point-by-point comparison hardly seems worth the exercise. Here are a few quotes from the candidates' websites that drive the difference home: On Climate Change Trump: "I think it's ridiculous, we've...

EPA’s 2018 Renewable Fuel Targets Disappoint Producers

In Washington, the Environmental Protection Agency released its final Renewable Fuel Standard renewable volume obligations for 2018. The agency finalized a total renewable fuel volume of 19.29 billion gallons , of which 4.29 BG is advanced biofuel, including 288 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel. As the Renewable Fuels Association explained: “That leaves a 15 BG requirement for conventional renewable fuels like corn ethanol, consistent with the levels envisioned by Congress in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. The 2018 total RFS volume finalized today represents a minor increase (10  million gallons) over the 2017 standards, and a modest increase...

What Trump’s Victory Means For The Bioeconomy

Jim Lane In Washington, Donald Trump captured the US Presidency in an upset victory that confounded pollsters and political pundits even as it delighted supporters of his maverick candidacy based on themes of immigration and trade reform coupled with a message that government policies of the past generation had failed for too many Americans. An unexpected series of wins across US Midwestern states – capturing Iowa, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio which had gone for Obama in 2012 – provided a comfortable margin of victory in the Electoral College and the popular vote. 5 Themes Some immediate themes emerge...

How Economics Finally Brought Community Solar to IREA

by Joseph McCabe, PE My uber-conservative utility, Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA) has been against solar since before I moved into the service territory in 2007.  IREA's long-serving general manager, Stanley Lewandowski Jr., would include climate change denial leaflets in the envelope along with the monthly electric bills. Now he is gone, and attitudes seem to be changing towards solar. With a new general manager, a couple of forward thinking board of directors and a handful of active IREA owners/members the solar landscape has changed and now includes a large solar project. Currently IREA...

The Worst Waste

Jim Lane Peter Brown of FFA Fuels, promotes his company these days with the pithy slogan, “Fuels from the Worst Waste Around.” Which of course raises the legitimate question, what is the worst waste, and can we find a use for it? Discussions of worst waste will usually focus on the obvious say, landfill or the odious say, medical or nuclear waste. Toxicity and longevity are typical concerns, and that’s one of the reasons why nuclear energy remains controversial to this day. No Waste in Nature As LanzaTech’s Jennifer Holmgren observed in a recent article by...

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...

Renewable Energy Standards: Savvy or Silly?

David Gold State renewable energy standards have gained momentum over the past decade with 29 states having put in place various types of standard mandates and five more having implemented voluntary standards (34 total).  Now the federal government is looking to get into the game with a bi-partisan bill (S. 3813) aiming to set a minimum national standard. Renewable energy standards certainly feel good, but do they really provide the best path for achieving their goals?  The existing renewable energy standards are savvy in finding a way to reduce fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions while simultaneously being...

Alt Energy & Obama’s Inaugural Address

Most people have probably seen and/or listened to Barack Obama's inaugural speech by now. In the second presidential debate, Obama ranked energy as his top priority (the choices offered by the moderator were: healthcare, entitlement reform and energy). As I pointed out earlier this week, the President picked an inner energy and environment circle that is heavily tilted in one direction: combating climate change and promoting alternative energy. We were thus very interested to see if Obama would place a strong focus on energy issues in his inaugural speech given the precarious economic environment. After all, that...

Trump to Health, Education, Small Business, and the Environment: You’re Fired!

Jim Lane  Good-bye ARPA-E, DOE, Loan Guarantee program, Energy Star, OPIC, USTDA, NEA, and the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program. Even Big Bird gets the guillotine. In Washington, the White House released its budget requests for 2018, a high-level, 62-page overview of President Trump’s strategy for “Making America Great Again”. Departmental impact In order of percentage impact, the departments are as follows. Defense: Up $52B or 8 percent Veterans Affairs: Up $4.4B or 6 percent  Homeland Security: Up $2.8B or 7 percent Small Business Administration: Down $43M or 5 percent Health & Human Services: Down $15.1B...

EVs, Lithium-ion Batteries and Liars Poker

John Petersen Last week I stumbled across a link that led to a 2010 report from the National Research Council titled "Hidden Costs of Energy, Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use." This free 506-page book takes a life-cycle approach – from fuel extraction to energy production, distribution, and use to disposal of waste products – and attempts to quantify the health, climate and other unpriced damages that arise from the use of various energy sources for electricity, transportation and heat. After studying the NRC's discussion of the unpriced health effects, other nonclimate damages and greenhouse gas...