Archive for April, 2007

Stocks for High Waters

My AltEnergyStocks column this week is about preparing yourself financially for the possibility of rising sea levels due to global warming.

I’ve been rather gloom-and-doom recently, with this and my article from a fortnight ago about preparing for Peak Coal.

Let’s hope that I’m just moody because of all the studying I’m doing for the second CFA exam (which is why entries here have been short and far between.) I plan to get back in the swing of things in late June, after the exam, the Colorado Renewable Energy Conference (there will be a session on “Investing in Renewable Energy”, led by Yours Truly), and a vacation. My wife and I want to see Glacier National Park before it becomes The National Park Formerly Known as Glacier.

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Renewable Energy Mutual Funds

I’m travelling this week (and have had the opportunity to use the energy-efficient train system in the Northeast,) so my column for Alternative Energy Stocks was written ahead of time and saved for a busy day. It’s a run-down of the available renewable or alternative energy mutual funds and ETFs, and a cost analysis of when it makes the most sense to use each.

Click here for a comparison of renewable/alternative energy mutual funds.

(Update: the above link was broken when I first posted it. It’s now fixed. Sorry.)

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What to do about Peak Coal

With Energy Watch Group’s recent release of a study which predicts Peak Coal by 2025, I thought I’d get in on the action.

Maybe you think it’s too soon to start worrying about Peak Coal… after all, most people haven’t even adjusted to the reality of Peak Oil (let alone Peak Gas, Peak Uranium, or Coal.) Yet all these finite resources will reach peak production, and some may already have.

So peak coal will happen, and it will either happen sooner than most investors think, or later. If you think it’s going to be sooner, my AltEnergyStocks column on Peak Coal gives some suggestions on what to do about it.

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Popular Mechanics: CFLs give better overall light quality.

(Via EcoGeek)
Popular Mechanics did a head-to-head test of one traditional incandescant bulb with 7 different types of Compact Fluorescents, with a lot of emphasis on light quality (both in terms of reading and recongnizing faces.)

Contrary to popular wisdom, the CFLs stomped. The incandescent Sylvania Double White Soft Light had the lowest quality light of those tested, it was “Much warmer” than the others, but yellow colors “appeared greenish,” while the Compact Fluorecscnts generally appeared to have higher light quality.

Go figure. It is easy being green… but you’re more likely to look green under an incandescent.

Full story at Popular Mechanics.

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Climate Action Days at Colorado School of Mines Apr 19-20

The Colorado School of Mines is hosting a free series of talks open to the public. Since Climate Action Days is in large part the work of a friend, I thought I’d help with publicity. Go if you can, they have a great lineup of speakers.

Some highlights:
Apr 19 Keynote by Tom Plant (director of the Governor’s office of Management and Conservation) and Tim Killeen, director of the http://www.ucar.edu/”The Future of the Planet Earth and its Inhabitants”

Apr 20 has a full day of presentations on Climate, Technology Solutions, and Policy Solutions. See the Flyer for details.

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TXU goes Nuclear- (rant)

A Wall Street Journal article today reports that TXU is planning on using nuclear power to replace the coal plants which they shelved recently.

This drives me batty. I do think that nuclear power is better than coal, and even better than IGCC, but basically substituting nuclear power for coal power is just replacing one nasty externality (CO2 emissions) with another: adding to the risk of nuclear terrorism and waste disposal problems.

When expected costs of CO2 are factored in, the price of nuclear power does looks good. But I ask the same question people are finally asking about global warming: “What’s the business case for destroying the planet?”

Here’s what we should be thinking for our baseload energy needs:

  • Energy Efficiency…. 1-3 cents per kWh
  • Concentrating Solar Power with thermal storage…. 10-15 cents per kWh (and dropping)
  • Wind power, combined with pricing mechanisms to shift demand…. 4-6 cents per kWh
  • And for peaking power:

  • Demand Response
  • Time of Day Pricing
  • Concentrating Solar Power with large scale thermal storage and an oversized turbine
  • Eight steps forward… six steps back. Do we really need to dig up mountains for uranium instead of decapitating them for coal?

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    Transmission Stocks.. not exciting enough?

    My AltEnergyStocks column this week is about investment opportunities in transmission, but to judge by the comments, readers are much more interested in direct investment in wind.

    This is not particularly surprising to me… electric transmission is both complex and boring. It’s also absolutely necessary for our transition to a sustainable energy economy. As a contrarian, the lack of interest in my readers makes me more bullish; I love sectors with great prospects that no one is interested in talking about (or buying) yet.

    An interesting parallel is my article on the polysilicon industry, which I wrote last July. At the time, only my regular readers read it, but in the last few months, now that the companies involved have risen another 50-100%, it’s consistently one of my most popular, despite the fact that there’s a good chance that the silicon supply crunch may soon ease up.

    I wonder how many people will be reading my transmission column eight months from now?

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