Renewable energy investment grows
By MEREDITH MACKENZIE
WASHINGTON, March 24 (UPI) -- Renewable energy sources are edging closer to competitiveness with traditional energy sources, aided by government subsidies, a booming European market and rapid technology development, analysts say.
In a March 2005 report, Clean Edge, a market research group that focuses on clean technology, said growth was strong in the renewable energy sector.
"The growth of clean-energy markets reflects its growing acceptance. Global wind and solar markets reached $11.8 billion and $11.2 billion in 2005 -- up 47 percent and 55 percent, respectively, from a year earlier," the report said. "The market for biofuels hit $15.7 billion globally in 2005, up more than 15 percent from the previous year."
Eric Packer, with the investment firm Progressive Asset Management, which focuses on environmentally responsible investing, says the sector has done well because of companied both in the United States and elsewhere.
"On the investment side in the portfolios that we manage to be have been able to get the very strong performance over the last several years it has been a blend of domestic and international companies," he said.
Renewable sources, like wind, are proving more readily deployed and less expensive in the Midwest than traditional sources like natural gas. Clean Edge reported that customers in Colorado, New Mexico and Minnesota saw wind power pay off.
"By early 2006, electric utility customers buying wind power in at least three U.S. states paid less, for the first time, than those purchasing the conventional power mix (mostly natural gas and nuclear) from the same utilities" it said.
The Clean Edge report also indicates that investor interest in renewable energy is up.
"Investors poured $917 million -- an increase of more than 25 percent from 2004 -- into more than 80 private companies," wrote Rodrigo Prudencio principal of Nth Power, an energy technology venture capital. "In 2005, more than 4 percent of the $21.7 billion venture capital market was represented by energy-tech investments, compared with 3.3 percent in 2004."
Some might say this increased interest in renewable energy is because of a continued rise in oil and natural gas prices, but Robert Preston, a portfolio manager at Merrill Lynch, says that is only the first step.
"The renewable energy market has higher correlation to stronger economy than to high oil prices," he said. "I think oil prices trigger thinking toward renewable energy and it pushes people to start looking around, but at the end of the day it is very difficult to make the transition to renewable over traditional energy source.
"You really need a good economy support all the aspects that renewables need like the infrastructure and the legal and accounting and maintenance that is needed."
< Yes, we are already persuaded. It doesn't help the stock price when ECD is praised anonymously. >
It won't be anonymous to those who buy his newsletter service, and presumably he will be mentioning it on his later TV appearances.
on climate change now: chief scientist
Governments around the world need to act now to tackle global warming and a destructive surge in storms and floods over coming decades, the senior scientist advising the British government said.
In a presentation to mark World Meteorological Day, David King, the chief scientific adviser to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, highlighted recent disasters to demonstrate that authorities tended to either ignore warnings from scientists or were inadequately prepared.
"Governments today ignore the advice of science at the peril of their own populations," King told the audience at the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).
For climate change, "the science is there -- you need to act now because in order to be prepared the investment has to take place over a long period of time," he explained.
He suggested that experience from the tsunami which devastated Indian Ocean coastlines in 2004, or the destruction wrought by hurricane Katrina on the US city of New Orleans last year, underlined the value of scientific evidence and the need for proper protection mechanisms.
"We need a system where the scientific capacity can be mined into, and presented directly to heads of state, the people in responsible positions, to make the right decisions."
King called climate change "the biggest new challenge facing us in the 21st century" and "possibly the biggest challenge since we developed our civilisation".
There was no longer much doubt about its cause -- carbon dioxide emissions caused by burning fossil fuels like oil and coal for energy -- and its impact, he added.
"We're in a situation where the scientific community has reached a very broad consensus on this and now we need government action," King underlined.
"We have two actions: one is calling mainly on nation by nation to prepare to adapt to the climate changes ahead, and the second is to mitigate, that's going to help our grandchildren."
King highlighted research showing that people near coastlines around the Indian subcontinent and southeast Asia would be particularly vulnerable to flooding by 2080 if nothing was done.
"It means that many people are going to lose their normal place of living. I think the potential for major geopolitical instability, if we don't take action, is quite massive."
According to scientists, the amounts of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere will have an effect for the next two to three decades.
That, King explained, meant vulnerable regions needed to shore up their defences because changes in weather patterns were "coming anyway".
Britain's top scientific official presented a 1979 map showing the Indian Ocean coast of Indonesia, the epicentre of the 9.3-magnitude quake that caused the December 2004 tsunami, was of "highest seismic potential".
Scientists also toured the region in summer 2004 to urge local authorities to set up a tsunami warning system similar to the one set up decades earlier in the Pacific Ocean, according to King.
"That didn't happen. Part of the problem was the scientists did not have a mechanism to get their message up to the leaders of the nations in that part of the world," he said.
About 220,000 people died in 11 Indian Ocean countries. An early warning system is now being established.
While early warning systems worked with New Orleans, the subsequent evacuation was criticised and dykes around the city were too fragile despite evidence that storms in the area had worsened in intensity over the years.
"While the information was conveyed, the business of getting the action into place didn't happen," King said.
Saturn is just a start ..
other announcements to follow.
have u seen how many vues are on the road.
this summer first ecd hybrids come out and the timing with new mtbe strickt restrictions on gasoline . it will pop ...
Re: Renewable Energy Grows P-2
And Preston said that those economic factors are coming together in the United States in addition to a favorable political climate.
"We have a perfect world right now with high energy prices in traditional sources, a relatively good economy with growth in the GDP and low interest rates relative to what they've been in the last 15 years," he said. "We have an environment today where renewable energy can start to get the legs it needs to be viable in the future."
But despite costs that are going down, and technology that is improving, the renewable energy market in the United States is still being held back by supply problems and the same government programs that are supposed to boost development.
Investment in solar energy has doubled in the last two years said Clean Edge principal and report author Ron Pernick.
"The biggest IPO investment is in solar," he said, adding this was because semiconductor companies in the electronics sector are the parents for some of the most successful solar IPOs. "The most activity is from electronic because they know how to ramp up production; they understand economies of scale; they understand volume. They know that solar will become mass manufacturer and not a batch process."
But recently solar has faced a supply chain problem from the U.S. silicon industry. There simply isn't enough silicon to meet the growing demand for photovoltaic solar cells. Last Thursday, Evergreen Solar, which has grown by 34 percent since it started, lost its contract with MEMC Electronic Materials, the sole supplier of its silicon. This has touched investor confidence in solar IPOs and will hurt Evergreen's margins. Despite this, Wall Street analyst Peter Lynch said solar continues to experience growth.
"Solar stocks as a group are probably up 4 to 6 times more than most of the commonly followed indices," Pernick said.
Government incentives programs, especially the production tax credit for wind energy technology, hasn't been around for more than two years at a time and has been allowed to lapse between renewals. According to the American Wind Energy Association, the production tax credit started in 1992, provides a credit of 1.8-cent per kilowatt-hour for electricity produced from wind farms during the first 10 years of its operation. The credit has been recently extended through 2007.
"It's detrimental to development," Preston said. "I actually prefer no incentive to these on again off again incentives."
Preston said project proposals are written differently and require different kinds of investors when the tax credit is in effect and when it isn't.
"And what takes months to write up all of a sudden then isn't applicable any more. And now they have to redo it and get different types of investors and there are different types of market drivers and it drives the financial industry crazy," he said.
Clean Edge's report for the renewable sector is bright. It projects large growth in biofuels, wind, solar and hydrogen fuel cells, which had a combined market of $40 billion in 2005 to quadruple by 2015.
"Shifts in energy happen over decades and not over years," Pernick said. "Eventually renewable will be on such large scale that you see smaller growth rates. But we hope by then that clean energy become 35-30 percent of mix of energy used in this country."
Like owning General Motors in the old days
Hybrid cars are selling faster than dealers can bring them on the lot.
They simply can�t keep up with demand. And the reason for the shortfall can earn you 50% gains by spring � and then double, even triple, your money by 2007.
Just a few years ago, the first hybrids were novelties. Putt-putts. Toys for the Greenpeace set. But they sure have made a move mainstream FAST.
That�s because hybrid buyers aren't balking at the $3,000-$4,000 price premium attached to the cars. Some folks are buying for environmental reasons, but growing numbers are buying just for a chance to �stick it to OPEC.�
And demand is much stronger than nearly anyone had expected.
Honda and Toyota got the ball rolling with gas/electric hybrids. But now everybody who�s anybody in the auto business is set to enter the fray � from Chevy to Lexus and everywhere in-between.
If you�re truly a growth investor, this story should have you licking your chops.
According to R.L. Polk & Co., the hybrid market has grown 960% since 2000, and hybrid registrations increased 81% in 2004 to 83,153.
2005 sales estimates ran to 200,000 vehicles � so this is a strong growth market. But that�s not the whole story.
What really excites me is the hybrid cars that weren�t built
You see, if Toyota and Honda had enough high-energy batteries, they would have sold five times as many hybrid cars! We�re terribly short on batteries.
And that�s why this stock is a money-doublers, or tripler, from here.
That�s because this company makes the rechargeable batteries that make hybrids run � and they can�t make them fast enough to keep up with demand. Quite an accomplishment.
In fact, the company�s founder just earned The Economist�s �2005 Innovation Award for Energy and the Environment.� That�s after many other honors, including Time�s �Hero of the Planet� award.
Why? Breakthrough technology that leaves all competitors in the dust. He�s the brains behind nickel-metal hydride (Nigh) batteries, which:
* replaced poisonous nickel-cadmium batteries with an environmentally-favorable alternative; and
* jump-started the entire hybrid industry, thanks to their innovative cost and power advantages.
Of course, this company is much more than just batteries.
These guys invent, engineer and develop new materials and products, broadly across many fields of alternative energy technology. And as you�ll see when you join us at ChangeWave Investing, the firm is playing a critical role in the march towards energy�s �alternative age.�
But right NOW, this company�s hybrid battery leadership is why we are so bullish on the stock.
We�re right at the tipping point of the hybrid wave � and this is the single best way we�ve found so far to take advantage.
Chances are, if you walk into your local Toyota dealer, you�ll have to wait weeks � even months � to drive your Prius home.
And remember that old rule of thumb, which says you lose at least $3,000 when you drive your new car off the lot? Forget about it! In many cases, last year�s hybrids are selling at a premium over their new-car cost.
The demand really is that strong. And the story just gets better from here:
*** CSM Worldwide projects another twenty hybrid models in the U.S. by 2007.
*** Oak Ridge Labs looks for sales to top 1.2 million by 2008
*** And another research group conservatively projects that 6% of all cars sold in the U.S. by 2010 will be hybrids.
They�ll all need batteries. And this company owns the best technology by far.
Note: This is a volatile aggressive-growth company so follow my buy instructions carefully.