Monday, December 31, 2007
"It's important when you in that hedge fund mode, is not do do anything that's remotely truthful."
"The fiction is developed, by almost anybody who's down like 2% to up 6% here. You can't take any chances, you can't have the market up any more than it is, if you're up 6%, because starting Jan 2 you'll have all your money come out; so what would you do in that situation and you feel like you're desperate?"
Saturday, December 15, 2007
How the U.S. Caved at Bali
But the real drama was to come. After India reiterated its objection — and was essentially supported by the European Union — the lead American negotiator Paula Dobiansky turned to speak, and announced that the U.S. would not accept India's changes, which sought to lighten the expectations from developing countries. (The UN negotiating process requires total consensus.) Boos rained on the U.S. delegation from NGO observers and even the press gallery, breaking the last remaining appearance of diplomatic placidity.
It's hardly the first time the U.S. has been jeered at a UN event, but what happened next was unique. Nation after developing nation rose to criticize the U.S. in language more often reserved for a political debate than a UN conference. A representative from tiny Papua New Guinea — one of many small island states most immediately threatened by climate change — recalled the old Lee Iacocca line about leading, following or getting out of the way. "If the U.S. will not lead, get out of the way," he said, to gallery cheers. "Please get out of the way."
More importantly, with the exception of a confused statement from Japan, not one of the allies that had generally stood with the U.S. the past two weeks — Australia, Russia, Canada — rose in its defense. The near-total isolation of the U.S. on climate change — which had been building since its rejection of the Kyoto Protocol nearly a decade ago — was now obvious, apparently even to the U.S. Dobiansky turned to speak. "We've listened very closely to many of our colleagues here during these two weeks, but especially to what has been said in this hall today," she said. "We will go forward and join consensus." Boos turned to cheers, and the deal was essentially sealed.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Monday, December 3, 2007
My wife is in mortgages (still employed, thank goodness). I've had plenty of time to delve into what's going on in housing over the last few years, and saw the current crisis coming a mile away (I didn't know the effects of the outcome, but I sure as heck saw that the prices weren't sustainable).
So, in envisioning the future of energy in America, I've come to the following conclusions.
Adding Solar Panels to existing and new homes adds value to the home, plain and simple. Having a home that generates its own power has benefits ranging from plain financial (payoff over time from metering), to home security and confidence (living in the county, our power has gone down for multi-day periods several times each of the last couple winters). There is also a "fad" effect going on in places where Solar is becoming the thing to do, or a status symbol.
The infrastructure to support solar installation of all types is developing, and great efficiencies will be found in this area as workforces and contractors are trained in the specific specific tools and techniques (these efficiencies are separate from efficiencies gained at, say, LDK, in the production of the panels themselves).
There is money to be made in Solar. As housing prices are collapsing, opportunities will exist for developers to buy common property cheap, and convert it to something special that is in special demand (green).
The financials need to get on board, and they will. Akeena Solar has already teamed up with a bank to provide financing for their solar installation customers.
As it is, I can go to the bank and get a loan on a car, boat, or home. Well, in lending for these things, the bank is counting on getting their money back plus interest. Well, a car, boat, or home, don't necessarily pay themselves off in the end, but energy sources do. There is a measure of safety in investing in Energy, though the system is not yet in place to realize it.
Consider the appraisal of a home. One, the appraiser needs comparisons. At this time, the rarity of solar installations make comparisons difficult or impossible. California may be different from where I live, but where I live, appraisers don't give added value to a property for Solar Panels. You could put a deck on the house and add thousands of dollars in value, but if you put in panels, you gain nothing.
The lending system simply hasn't yet crunched the numbers. They haven't written the rules that will allow underwriters to sign off on a loan that assigns value to Residential Solar Energy Generation while defending the long-term financial interest of the lender. They will do so, because it's in their best interest to provide services to the growing number of potential green-conscious borrowers.
Prices will come down. We see bashers talking about an impending polysilicon glut, but they never mention the other side of the coin, which is that with lower prices, demand increases. In fact, some of the same people that say there will be a glut, also say that prices will never come down to the point at which people would buy the products.
So, anyway... just some thoughts...
Monday, November 12, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
Obviously of late, I've been preoccupied with the whole drama, but that doesn't mean that I denigrate the American competition.
I've always figured that where China can win with down and dirty silicon tech, America had the capacity to make the sleek high-tech forms like thin film. Right now I particularly like ASTI as an American manufacturer. They're supposed to start selling a product line in November, and that's a significant forward step.
As for on my own home, I'd love to have something nice from Sunpower.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
I've had a small amount of money in ESLR for about two years. Prior to that the only time I've invested was right at the end of the dotcom boom. My main activity started at the end of March with the addition of a significant chunk of money to my account.
With a degree in physics, it could be said that I've been studying energy pretty thoroughly since about 1996, but my drive towards alternative energy really kicked in soon after 9/11.
Since March I've ranged from about -10% to +60%. Right now I'm at about +10% after taxes.
Watching this LDK drama is incredibly fascinating.
For one thing, I'm learning that to sell a good company because the price is down is the height of foolishness. You can only do that so many times before you will have nothing.
For another thing, I've learned that you can't trust the reporters. They all have their own motives, and know very well their effect on the markets. You gotta do your own work, and get as close to your own truth as possible.
Note that after close today the WSJ put out quite a friendly article on LDK ( Partial Eclipse: LDK Solar
Highlights China Stocks' Risk
This morning I was way down, not just in LDK, but in AKNS and ASTI. I felt great and confident, however. By the end of the day, I was pretty burnt out, but still feeling good, because I'd not gotten afraid and sold out. Yes, I sold FSLR at a gain, and I sold some ASTI at a profit. I was concerned about my available margin. I figure that as long as I'm not forced to sell, then I've got no problems.
We're still just getting started in putting together an industry, but it's a critical industry, and the long term is white hot. My ultimate goal must be to stay in until it's ready to pay me off for my patience.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Peter Lyons, a Nuclear Regulatory COmmittee Commissioner is talking about needing help from Congress regarding the details of a plan to consolidate and develop nuclear power plants. It seems that a combination of the requirement for a 2+ mile surrounding area, and a high per foot cost of land, creates complications to the implementation of the plan.
Makes sense to me, and is one more argument against nuclear power.
Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is making the most sense of the bunch. Democrats are supportive of nuclear power, because there's money in it. In the end, though, the money spent on nuclear power plants is misspent, and without taxpayer support would be nonexistant. Not only that, but nobody is talking abou the waste (except Sanders). It's simply ignored.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
Sunday, September 9, 2007
While wind and solar power are expected to grow rapidly, they will account for about 1% of global energy demand by 2030, while 80% of the energy needs will be met by oil and gas, according to Robert C. Olsen, chairman and production director of Exxon Mobil International Ltd. (XOM) Wind and solar power will grow an average of 10.5% a year through 2030, compared with 1.6% average annual growth for coal, gas and oil combined, Olsen estimated. "It will be the conventional energy sources -- oil, natural gas and coal -- that will need to meet the bulk of the world's energy requirements over the coming decades," he commented at the Offshore Europe energy conference in Aberdeen, Scotland.
Standard bullshit here.
Prices of many of these technologies are going down RIGHT NOW. Manufacturing of these technologies is ramping up. Early participants have already passed the 1% mark (Germany), and they did so at a premium. Followers will benefit by the investments of the early adopters.
I'd put my target closer to or above 30% by 3030, which includes an explosion in the energy biotech market which is coming within the next three years.
Exxon will buy in, that's for sure, but the last thing they want to do is telegraph future interest.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Applied Materials Revolutionizes Solar Module Manufacturing with Breakthrough SunFab Thin Film Line
Applied Materials, Inc. today introduced its revolutionary Applied SunFab(TM) Thin Film Line, the world's first and only integrated production line for manufacturing thin film silicon solar modules using 5.7 square meter (m2) glass panels. These ultra-large substrates, sized at 2.2m x 2.6m, are four times bigger than today's largest thin film solar production panels. The Applied SunFab Line defines a new standard for the industry that can be replicated by customers around the globe to rapidly establish solar panel manufacturing capacity and achieve the lowest production cost per watt to drive down the cost of solar electricity.
I'd like to see what the costs work out to, but this seems good on first look.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Posts have been infrequent of late. There was a trip to Spokane, WA, and somewhat of a lack of optimism. Even so, I've done work, spreading the word where I can. This housing bust has been somewhat frightening, but hopefully awareness of the issues, as well as proper corrective action taken by the main players involved, will allow the market to take its beatings where they are due without letting panic do additional unnecessary damage.
I'm holding a very small amount of First Solar, and a very large amount of Composite Technology. Yesterday I bought some LDK, and today I sold some but not all of it.
Having initially invested in March of this year, I've been up 50%, but by Thursday I was back down to where I started. I was seriously thinking about selling everything, and waiting until the Mortage Lenders finished collapsing, but it looks like things are stable right now, and CPTC has gone up about 14% from it's bottom. The volume is low, but it's hopeful nonetheless. A bit of good news would be helpful.
I'm working on another Solar-Related Website for a potential contract job. I'm also thinking that I might be able to double up the use of that Site / Database to gather business from other Alt Energy Companies. We'll see, I've got a few technical challenges to get through first.
BTW: Here's a heck of a Bloomberg article on how Subprime is present in Money Market Funds, which are supposed to be among the safest of Investments.
Subprime Infects $300 Billion of Money Market Funds, Hikes Risk
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Back in Clinton / Gore days they used "targetted taxcuts" to give direction to producers and consumers in support of national needs and goals. Under this President, the taxcuts have simply gone to those that make the most money, no matter how they got it. It's no wonder that we're in the state we are right now.
I'm glad to see it.
The Corn Belt Gets Rich, Quietly
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
It seems to me that it's pretty obvious that foreclosures are not in the best interest of the Banks, or the homeowners going into foreclosure.
The way that seems most likely that they will "solve" this problem will be for the Fed to lower rates, or otherwise bail out the holders of bad debt.
On the other hand, as far as mortgages that are going to go into foreclosure we're not done yet, as mortgage rate increases have yet to hit many people, and right now even mortgage-holders with the best credit are unable to refinance out of a suddenly bad deal. Support for the holders of future bad debt without looking at the other end of the equation, the homeowners, seems to be a losing proposition.
Is there any way that some remedy could be had that would help to minimize these future forclosures without causing more harm than good?
Say you have a homeowner. They have a job, and are paying their mortgage. Some time in the next year or so, their rate is going to jump, and they can not now refinance as they'd planned. Nobody wins if they foreclose in this market, and the bank was hoping to make a ton of cash off of that increasing interest rate. Could something be done to, say, modify that person's loan and find a new balance between profit to the lender vs affordability to the customer without need for refinance?
Thinking about it, there's such a web of contracts involved, and complexities like mortgages being broken up into bits, packaged, and sold around the world, that I don't know that any such thing could be done... so that basically leaves a vast Government bailout to the same people that created much of the problem in the first place by creating a culture drunk on risk.
Am I totally naive? :)
X-Posted to LJ
Addition: It seems to me that the Government should team up with the lenders and set up a program by which borrowers are supported in refinancing out of bad mortgage agreements, so that they can lower their monthly payments and stabilize their interest rates, the cost of which is shared by both the bank and the taxpayer. It has to be fair, though, and so the lenders should take the most significant part of the loss (loss as compared to original projected profit off of the original predatory loan, anyway), as they're the ones that used poor judgement in the first place. This would be a bailout, but one in which the needs of the "little guy," the borrower was well considered. Nobody benefits from foreclosures.
Of course, the chance of GW supporting such a move is approximately nill, but that's another story.
Monday, August 6, 2007
Bloomberg.com has this item by Kevin Hassett.
A Modest Proposal to Revolutionize Oil Market
He sets the story with much gushing about Nunes.
Nunes, a third-generation farmer from the heavily agricultural San Joaquin Valley, has proposed a pilot futures market project that is a financial economist's dream come true. Clearly, he has put his graduate degree in agriculture to good use, since well-trained farmers are old hands working with futures markets.
He connects the story to a famous economist with no actual supporting evidence.
Here's the back story. Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz studied situations where the nonexistence of markets can cause economic systems to end up in strange places. Nunes's fascinating insight is that energy markets might be a case study in the kind of market failure that Stiglitz had in mind.
Nunes's specific application is in alternative energy. Imagine you are deciding whether to sink a billion dollars into a plant that makes an oil substitute. If you eyeball the history of the oil market, you will immediately see a problem. The price goes up and down over time, frequently falling to levels so low that factories producing alternative fuels would be uneconomical.
He states the problem.
Nunes's specific application is in alternative energy. Imagine you are deciding whether to sink a billion dollars into a plant that makes an oil substitute. If you eyeball the history of the oil market, you will immediately see a problem. The price goes up and down over time, frequently falling to levels so low that factories producing alternative fuels would be uneconomical.
You could drop your money into a costly plant, then watch the price of oil drop and lose your entire investment.
This type of uncertainty is a big deal for financiers. If a new plant has a working life measured in decades, then uncertainty over the future price of oil is a significant impediment.
He then goes on to provide support for a terrible solution!
The Nunes solution is to have the government create a market for long-run put options for alternative fuels. This would give those who have constructed qualifying facilities the right to sell (or ``put'') their product at a minimum price to the government should the actual price drop below that.
If you are planning to invest a couple of billion dollars in a coal-to-liquid plant, then you could purchase a U.S. government-backed option that would guarantee you a minimum price of, say, $70 a barrel. If the actual price is above that, you can sell your product for more than that. If the price drops below $70, the government pays you the difference between the market price and $70.
The price of these futures contracts would, under the Nunes bill, be set at auction. Accordingly, the policy would probably raise revenue in near-term forecasts. In the long run, taxpayers would be taking on a risk that oil prices will drop, but that risk is a natural one for them take.
More on this soon. First he follows with a package of rosy outcomes, even in a worst-case scenario as far as the taxpayers are concerned.
If oil prices fall so low that the government must pay lots of money to alternative fuel providers who have purchased these options, then that would mean the economy will be booming because of the low energy prices. In addition, tax revenue will be flowing in, and the Treasury's coffers will be full.
If it becomes law, then my guess is the project will be highly successful and will rapidly apply to any alternative to imported oil. And when government creates this missing futures market, the flood of capital into alternative energy will make all the silly targeted subsidies unnecessary.
And then he subtly inserts a demonstration of the flaw.
Nunes's bill proposes using coal-to-liquid plants as a pilot project.
Disclosure: I'm not a supporter of Liquid Coal Technology. Note: It appears likely that Mr. Hassett is an unabashed Liquid Coal supporter.
Note: When I say "Liquid Coal," I mean "Liquid Coal." I am a supporter of Clean Sequestered Coal as an important bridge in our transition to Carbon Neutrality, and I have no problem with reasoned Government Support in making Sequestered Coal a reality. Liquid Coal, however, has no capacity for Carbon Neutrality, and so is a bad long-term bet.
Back to this Bill.
So, the Government creates this new "market." Well, he says it's a market, and he inserts market terminology like "put*," but it's obviously not really a market at all. It's a Taxpayer funded price control in support of Oil** / Liquid Coal products, in fact, it's an entitlement. Why is this? Because, for one, it's set specifically in the favor of existing oil / coal interests as these interests control the vast majority of the money with which to buy "puts" at auction, and so as the price of energy decreases, they will be the primary beneficiaries of the Government Payouts irrespective of their contribution to the solution of the original problem.
Even if Liquid Coal (or whatever technology) falls out of favor in the market compared to better technologies, the taxpayer will support its continued production, even if there isn't a single private buyer interested in paying for the product. Since the Government has guaranteed future prices based on an auction process, the very concept of Capitalist Competition in which the best products thrive, and the worst products fail, falls by the wayside.
Risk is a natural component of Investment, and any story that suggests that Risk can be eliminated is one that is making bad assumptions. In this case, the risk is borne by the taxpayer, and a double-whammy is quite possible where not only are the taxpayers paying an exorbitant price for energy through taxation to pay for puts, but it's also likely that taxpayers will be subsidizing the very product that an efficient market would correctly put out of business.
In other industries, I'll wager that Mr. Hassett is not in support of Government intervention in the market, but it appears that he's been fooled by the co-option of market terminology by supporters of Big Government Coal and Oil Entitlements in the creation of this unbalanced marketlike Government Program.
* "This would give those who have constructed qualifying facilities the right to sell (or ``put'') their product at a minimum price to the government"
** Like Shale Oil, and Oil Sands.
Get this Energy Bill through the Senate and onto the President's Desk for a veto. Let that dumbshit explain just why he's going to hold up progress on American Energy Development. Let him explain why pulling those tax-cuts from Big Oil are going to force these companies to raise prices (they'll still be making large profits without the incentives). Let that shithead explain why he consistantly acts in greater support of Saudi, Iranian, and Venezuelan interests than in the interests of the United States of America.
I'm sorry, this blog is not where I plan to be political, but this joker running the show right now in the whitehouse makes me fucking sick.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
"All things being equal, given the $/kg economics of solar panels, I don’t think the competitive end game is to be shipping them from China. The end-game winners will be optimized for net working capital days and proximity to customers. (Btw, shipping from China costs ten times as much as shipping to China these days…) The middle game will be dominated by quality issues; this is a product that people expect to last for decades."
I'd never thought of it, and don't actually know it to be true, but it makes sense that they don't want empty boats traveling back from the US to China.
I count this as a good thing for US exports, even if it's a small effect...
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Based on some news searches, I've come up with some rough estimates of upcoming solar capacity.
Feel free to correct me if you have corrections or additions.
Note: This list includes only public companies listed on American Exchanges. It does not include any of the numerous foreign public companies, and no private manufacturers.
This also only includes PV annual capacity, and do not include other solar technologies like Solar Concentration or Direct Heating systems.
LDK 1,600 MW End 2009 Reference
SPWR 400 MW End 2009 Reference
JASO 175 MW Unknown Reference
FSLR 275 MW FY08 Reference
ESLR 100 MW End 2007 Reference
KYO 500 MW End March 2011 Reference
STP 1 GW End of 2010 Reference
SOLF 50 MW Current Reference
CSIQ 250 MW Nov 2007 Reference
I'd put a rough total on this as 3.75 Annual GW by the end of 2010.
Let's look for more capacity in private or foreign companies:
Sharp 600 MW Current Reference
Ovonic 300 MW 2008 Reference
Shell 25 MW Current Reference
E-Ton 260 MW End 2008 Reference
Honda 27.5 MW End 2007 Reference
Mitsubishi 230 MW Current Reference
Aleo 10 MW Current Reference
Equation 60 MW 2010 Reference
Photowatt 60 MW Current Reference
PowerFilm 24 MW 2010 Reference
Nevada One Concentrator 64 MW Current Reference
Add these up for 1.66 Additional Annual GW by the end of 2010.
So, the total is 5.41 Annual GW Capacity by 2010.
Note: This is very rough.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Monday, July 16, 2007
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Thursday, July 12, 2007
My house is 100 years old. They weren't thinking about mounting Solar Panels on the roof when they decided on the direction of the face. We do, however, have a good chunk of land.
On the bigger picture, I think that there could be a heck of a market for pole mounted systems because they are so easy to install (relatively), and thus much cheaper than a major roof job. Also, I know that there are many houses that do not have ideal roofs for a solar installation, and for some, the pole mounted option would be the right solution.
They are also nicely scaleable, as you could add more as long as you have the land and the inverter capacity.
I'd want to not skimp on panels, though. The most efficient per unit area would be the way to go.
EDIT: I think another advantage of these where possible would be due to the fact that rooftop systems collect heat, which lower the panel efficiency, whereas these wouldn't have that problem. For the rooftop systems it looks like cogeneration is in order, where the panels generate electricity and a solar thermal system removes heat in order to heat the home, or water, etc.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Compromise Measure Aims to Limit Global Warming
The complex measure, sponsored by Senators Jeff Bingaman, Democrat of New Mexico, and Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, would put in place a firm limit on emissions of heat-trapping gases that most scientists say are causing the warming of the planet. Like other so-called cap-and-trade schemes, it would allow companies to buy and sell the right to emit carbon dioxide, which is seen as the chief culprit in global warming.
But to secure labor and corporate support, the measure also places a limit on the price industry would have to pay for such permits. And to win the endorsement of Alaska’s two Republican senators, the bill contains billions of dollars in new money to help their state cope with the effects of climate change on roads, bridges and coastal areas.
I'm torn on this. Of course, I'd rather have a superior bill, like one that we might get after 2008, but on the other hand, this sounds to me like quite a reasonable bill, considering the difficulty in getting the support of the affected unions, as well as many of the affected corporate interests.
I'd be perfectly happy if this passes; to my knowledge this bill is actually separate from the Energy Bill that they've been working on, and that will address much that this one doesn't. On the other hand, if it fails, then we'll just have to wait until there's a new President and a more Democratic Congress.
There is one thing that I do find offensive about this bill, though, and that's the "Billions of Dollars" that will go to Alaska in order to "help them cope." Come on. That money is a payoff to the Senators for their support of the bill. Alaska really doesn't need this money, they still have oil, and they're still going to be pumping it. Should coal states get cash in order to "cope?" What about states that have been proactive and have been working hard to invest in and develop clean, renewable energy prior to the US Government forcing that change with legislation.
No, Alaska should not be getting Billions of Charity Dollars in return for supporting Global Warming Legislation. If we don't pay them off, and they kill the bill, how much money is Alaska going to pay to the other states that will be having to "cope" with the environmental affects of Global Warming?
As long as Alaskans can count on their Senators to get away with these kind of counterproductive giveaways they're going to keep voting in the same corrupt breed of person.
It seems that though the State of Alaska only cost $11 Million Dollars to buy, the cost of maintaining the State is in the Billions.
Monday, July 9, 2007
"Algae only uses water as its source for hydrogen, which allows researchers to produce very high yields per acre — maybe 50 to 100 times more than soy or canola while using 1 percent to 2 percent of the water, Willson said."
If these numbers were to be demonstrated... damn... what a solution.
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Gore gets the green, so can you
The article contains some good bits of info.
One particular point from the article:
"He (Robert Wilder, cofounder of the WilderHill Clean Energy Index) has few positive things to say about the prospects for fuel cells and hydrogen power, which he says have been grossly over-hyped over the years. He's also skeptical about the environmental benefits of ethanol."
I'd just point out that I agree here, thus my focus on solar investing for the time being).
On the other hand, in a Live Earth Interview (linked on a previous post), Gore states that he believes that cellulosic ethanol techniques are on the way within three years, and that the current infrastructure that's being built is welcome (paraphrased). So, it will definately be worth watching for biotech IPO's that will be providing these technologies.
Though I am writing about solar stocks pretty frequently, I'm not a terribly experienced picker of stocks. I do have some experience over the years, and I've done more than my share of studying of issues of economics, politics, and energy.
I have a BS in Physics, so energy has been one of my biggest area of study, though I don't work in the field; I'm in IT at a Health Insurance company.
They say "invest in what you know," and so that's what I'm doing, and that's what I'm writing about, and continually learning more about.
The last thing I want to do is send someone in the wrong direction.
On the other hand, I feel like right now the opportunity is so great in getting involved in investing in these companies, which, barring some economic meltdown, are going to be tomorrow's behemoth energy corporations.
I can only ask the reader to not ever take my word for it. Of course, they shouldn't take Cramer's word for it, either.
Saturday, July 7, 2007
From this 30 minute interview with Gore he makes the following statement:
"... see saturday, 7/7/07, as the great launch, where we really have, it's like a kick-off, it's a wakeup call, SOS, and ask people to answer that call, and then launch the intensive messaging that will get us across the tipping point."
Gore isn't done talking about this, he's just getting started, and he surely won't be alone.
SYDNEY, Australia — Live Earth got a traditional Aboriginal welcome in Australia and a high-tech virtual one in Japan, as the 24-hour global concert series to raise awareness about climate change kicked off Saturday.
Al Gore made appearances at both _ as a hologram in Tokyo and via live video link with Sydney _ urging rock fans to join the fight against global warming.
Sounds like a good start. Also sounds like they might still be able to do something in Washington DC.
I'm recording what I can of it, as I'll not be around tomorrow, and there's always online options (www.liveearth.org).
As for those who are scoffing at the concept of "celebs" flying around the world, using fossil energy, and blasting away with stacks of speakers, again using fossil energy, and suggesting that this in some way invalidates the point of the concerts; I'd just like to point out that the other option is to do nothing at all.
Any action requires energy.
Action on a Global Scale, which Live Earth represents, requires a large amount of energy.
The vast majority of the energy supply on Earth is Fossil-based. Therefore, in order to take any action at all requires Carbon Emission.
So, if action is required to move the World Economy towards Carbon Neutrality, and yet action is not allowed simply because it causes Carbon Emmissions, then there can be no transition at all towards a Carbon-Neutral Economy, and so we settle for a future devoid of alternatives to Fossil Energy.
Bonus Info: Solar Web Hosting Company Powers Live Earth Sites
Double Bonus: Gore Brings Surprise Live Earth Concert to Washington
Triple Bonus: Garth Brooks will be at the Washington show. Now, last I checked, Mr. Brooks and the majority of his fans are not Moveon Liberals.
Friday, July 6, 2007
I've been thinking alot about Biodiesel of late. I can't help it, I know that it is about to burst wide open with the IPO of Imperium.
On the other hand, the name of my blog is AmericanSolarEconomy, so by discussing Bio-Energy, I'm straying from the main topic.
The simplest solution, of course, is to simply include those topics in this blog, and on the main site at www.AmericanSolarEconomy.com.
To support this solution, I came up with a rationale, which I wasn't quite satisfied with until just a few minutes ago. The rationale states that Bio-Energies are, in fact, rooted in "Solar Energy." For instance, to produce Biodiesel, you need vegetable oil. The energy that is packed into that oil comes from plants which are absorbing the energy from the sun.
Think of it this way. Given some land surface area, you can make use of the Solar Energy radiated on that area either by absorbing that energy using photovoltaics to convert it to electricity*, or by using crops (algae?) to absorb and store that energy as oil. There is a definite parallel, and it could be said that PV is simply a semicondoctor-based approach to solar energy absorbtion, whereas Bio is crop-based.
So anyway, I'll be talking about Biofuels here, and expanding the main site to be inclusive. It's the right thing to do.
* Or by concentrating the energy in order to generate electricy via heat-based generator.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Next time somebody tells you that the reason that gas prices are so high is because of limits on Refinery construction, tell them they're full of crap.
Prices would go down considerably simply by fixing the problems in the current plants. Of course, the owners don't necessarily benefit by increasing production since they're making profits off of the high prices.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
I see these news articles about Exxon and Conaco failing to get a deal in Venezuela, and I see that the titles are typically written as if it was neutral news on the wellbeing of these companies, like "ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips to Negotiate their Venezuelan Exit," or "Exxon, ConocoPhillips Refuse Chavez Deal."
How is this anything other than very bad news for these companies?
Oh, I forgot. As long as the price of Oil goes up, so does Exxon**. Bullshit. This is the echo chamber talking. Not only does the high price of Oil stress the very US Economy that keeps Exxon in Business*, but high prices support alternatives to Exxon's product. Sure, Alternative production of energy is just a speck on the radar, but it's growing like mad. Exxon is between a rock and a hard place. Prices continue stay up, and they must continue ignoring alternatives, because to recognize them in any way is to legitimize their potential, and give them a big boost.
* Like militarily assuring a stable searoutes for Oil Distribution.
** Hereafter I use the name Exxon only, just to save time, not because they are in some way specifically the target of my ire.
Monday, June 25, 2007
It seems to me that the greatest risk to the Solar is a concentrated effort by "Big Oil" to bring down prices.
Now, if only the Arabs were in charge, I'd say that the risk would be tremendous, but is Chavez going to support such a move? There's little in it for him, he's building a regional power using today's high prices. I do not believe that Saudi Arabia has the power to do it alone, and can't see Chavez or Ahmadinejad willingly cutting the price, if for no other reason than to give the US Economy a big boost.
Though, Exxon has access to a ton of cash, but they can't do it alone; ok, they could take some of the edge off, but if they lower gas prices, then they are succeptable to the corresponding growth in the political will to add new gas taxes.
I think we're in good shape.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
China building more power plants
China is now building about two power stations every week, the top climate change official at the UK Foreign Office, John Ashton, has said.
He said there was no point blaming China for rising global CO2 emissions.
Rich nations had to set an example of low-carbon development for China to follow, Mr Ashton told the BBC.
His statement came as a new report suggested that China may have already become the world's biggest polluter - much earlier than expected.
The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency said China's CO2 emissions had risen by 9% last year, compared with 1.4% in the US.
I have to agree somewhat that we need to lead the way. As mentioned in the article, "All we've done is export a great slice of the West's carbon footprint to China." We've moved our manufactuing to China, with no environmental strings, and with cheap products we get massive CO2 output.
What can we do? Well, obviously we need to do everything that we can to energize ourselves using clean energy. Solar modules will come down in price as manufacturing comes online, and we'll take advantage of that. We'll take advantage of the personal energies of the many many Americans involved in the movement, and we'll support our homegrown industries so that we'll have a place in tomorrow's energy marketplace.
In the end, if we play our cards right, we'll be selling future energy technologies not only to China, but to SE Asia, India, and Africa. When Americans recognize the possibilities then they'll work for it with enthusiasm.
Republicans blocked a $32 billion tax package to boost energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, refusing to go along with $29 billion in taxes on the oil industry to pay for it. Republicans also refused to allow a vote on a measure that would have required electric utilities to produce at least 15 percent of their power from wind, biomass or other renewable energy sources.
Ok, so this was the big one, and who really thought it would get through, anyway. It'll have to wait till after the next election, I think.
I do approve of the rest of the bill, and look forward to having the President veto it. Seriously. If the House and Senate can get it to his desk, I really hope that it's strong enough that he'll have to make an issue of it with a veto. Once again he and his cronies will be shown as acting directly counter to the national interest.
Give me a break. Pulling $29 Billion out of oil, and getting shut down by some "bought and payed for" Republicans? $29 Billion dollars over a period of time when Big Oil will make a Trillion Dollars?
Well, I'm looking at this bill and seeing it as helpful when I expected nothing at all. I see the growth around me, and I know that the market is working. Yes, we need Federal support, but for now we have rapidly growing levels of State support, and growing public interest. In any case the manufacturing capacity that's been ordered up this year and last by the various IPOs isn't quite ready for full production, anyway.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Washington Post on the Current Energy Bill (subscription required)
I don't think there is a chance that a good Energy Bill is going to go through until the Next Administration. At least, the Democrats would be fools to give Bush one that provides a bunch of money to Coal-to-Liquid or Nuclear Power. They'd be selling out the incredibly important truth, in exchange for political expediency, and we can't afford more of that right now.
As for Price Gouging, "Big Oil" can keep prices high all they want, they're just going to price themselves out of business as Alts make tremendous gains, not because of vast Government spending, but based on increasingly favorable market conditions.
It has yet to be seen what "Big Oil" will do in the runup to the '08 Election. If there hasn't been an unforseen supply disruption by then, I could see Exxon eating some of that Cash on Hand that they've been hording, in order to not only crush the competition from Alt-Energy, but to put American Energy concerns at ease in order to favor Republicans for whom action on the Current Energy Crisis is a low priority.
If the Oil Industry opts to force down their prices, then an appropriate response would be to increase Gas Taxes. Even if the Federal Government will take no action under Bush, State Governments would have very powerful incentive to respond in such a way.
As it is, Alt Energy is doing great without the US Federal Government. The Worldwide Production Capacity is growing in great leaps, and many production facilities are still under construction, there's time to put together a good bill when there's a more thoughtful, and better informed President in office.
As for The American Auto Industry, in response to the concept stated by "the proposed increase in fuel economy standards in this bill are way too extreme for consumers and the economy to handle."
I call Shenanigans, AKA Bullshit.
I fear for the future of American Autos. You guys have designed yourself into a corner, getting bigger and more wasteful on the American Dream of Limitless Oil. Your industry doesn't want the challenge of building highly efficient cars, and so you're losing the world competition for energy efficient vehicles. Why would a person in a developing world want to buy a gas guzzler? They don't have the money to throw around like us lucky Americans, but they are tomorrow's market.
The US Government must not ptotect you from your own poor decisions, and failure to create vehicles that can compete on the world market. This is not to say that the US Government should abandon you, but you, the auto industry, need to step up and demonstrate that you can develop a car that is going to be able to compete in a world where energy is scarce.
Posted by Don P at 10:45 PM
I caught a bit on CNBC this morning about how Caterpillar is having trouble with The National Center for Public Policy Research for their support of The U.S. Climate Action Partnership.
As you can see from their website, The National Center is a conservative organization. From their "Earth Day" page, it's pretty clear that their position is not a balanced one at all, but is an overtly denial-based, in the (percieved) best interest of its Fossil-based clients.
So,we see a good example of how these particular special interests are going to band together to try to smash those who are following the science and working to get ahead of the issue in a proactive way.
I can only hope that Caterpillar stands strong, and doesn't buckle to these guys. It will be to everone's benefit if industry is ready to deal with cap and trade when it comes around, and per Nanci Pelosi, it will come around.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
I see a disturbing concept floating around the web in discussions of Energy, so I thought I'd mention it.
The concept is that because alt-energy like Solar makes up such a small percentage of total production, then it would be no big deal if it were to be struck a blow by, say, unfortunate choices in Government Legislation. I don't even hear this idea just from those that I suspect are in the employ of "big fossil," it seems to be a common misconception.
The truth is that alt-energy is the future. The truth becomes clearer with every passing day. Nobody knows, of course, when the boom is going to really take off, but there's little doubt that it will happen at some point, unless it is crushed by other special interests.
Over the next few years we have as few as two options. We either embrace the changes that are happening, benefit from them over the long term by supporting the ongoing development of the industry, and marshall our economic strength to keep us together through the societal shockwaves that will be brought about by Climate Change, or we'll obstruct forward progress in Energy Development at the behest of the existing major interests, and so dramatically weaken our ability to deal with Environmental Changes that are nearly assured.
I'm counting on us choosing the first option, and comments suggesting that the fledgling industry is not of critical value due to its small size are subtle and easy to miss, but also very dangerous to leave unchecked.
Posted to http://www.battlecreekenquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070610/LIFESTYLE08/706100304
The IPCC has completed this year's meeting and come to the conclusion that it is 90% likely that human emissions are a primary source of Global Warming.
Extremely sensitive measurements clearly demonstrate the increasing average temperature.
The US Federal Government has produced several major reports which demonstrate the reality of Global Warming, and President Bush, himself, has backed down from his previous positions as to the question of the fact of Global Warming.
The longer that we as Americans continue to be divided by the question of whether Global Warming is real or not, the longer of a headstart that we give to foreign nations who are right now acting on Global Warming by developing the technology and the infrastructure that will be powering the economies of Tomorrow.
We need to get past the basics, and focus our discussion on what we are going to do about it. There is some very good new of late, as American investment in Solar technology and Biotech has been growing substantially. Look for greatly increasing levels of investment over the next few years as profits in the alt-energy sector increase dramatically.
Saturday, June 2, 2007
I sold TSL the other day. I'm thinking that prices in the Chinese manufacturers are going to redistribute a bit, and it will be interesting to see what increased competition does to panel prices and profits.
Ultimately, though, I see ownership in a chinese company as a hedge against trouble in the US Economy, so I'll get back ASAP (probably back into TSL). I figure at some point things will get rebalanced, and continue going up from there. It's not like demand isn't continuing to increase, so the long term still looks very good.
It seems that FSLR isn't getting hurt so far, so I'm staying in.
BTW: Rule of thumb. I welcome debate, so if I'm ever off base, let me know.
Monday, May 28, 2007
As much as I get excited about biodiesel, I can't help but have a real problem with the deforestation that is the current result.
Palm oil puts squeeze on Asia's endangered orangutan
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
1. Global Warming. It is real, and the solution must start now with the efforts of all available economic participants. Climate Change spanning even just the next few human lifespans stands to create intra- and international pressures which place at risk the modern World Economy. Large scale integration of environmental refugees cannot be resolved without the most powerful, and prepared of Economies.
2. It is simple physical fact that there is No Economy without Energy. The vast American and World Economies of today are totally dependent on a steady supply of energy to produce and transport a staggering quantity of goods. Without a substantial domestic energy supply, the economic capacity of The United States, and thus the world, is at risk.
3. As there is no economy without Energy, also, there is also no National Security without a Robust Domestic Energy Capacity. Wars cannot be fought without a Strong Domestic Economy to provide for the troops. In addition, America's addiction to Foreign Oil risks forcing us to become militarily involved in conflicts that are otherwise best avoided. No military can long remain strong when forced by Basic Economic Necessity to intervene in, or to manufacture external conflicts for purposes of assuring a long-term supply of Energy.
4. America's Oil Demand directly contradicts its best interest by providing a ready source of funding to any nation which is able to bring Oil to the Market. This dependence forces America into a position of diplomatic weakness on the world scene. This relationship also serves to assure a steady flow of America Dollars to nations such as Iran, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia. These nations do not have America's Best Interest in mind, yet leadership of these nations have undue influence on American Foreign Policy due to their possession of needed energy resources.
Fossil Fuels are incredibly diverse in their capacity to provide energy resources to suit any need. They will not be replaced by one or two technologies or products. The transition away from these Energy Sources will require a broad array of solutions, depending on the particular niche in question.
Solar Energy fills one of those niches, and has many unique advantages, of which a few follow:
1. Solar energy allows for decentralized energy production. Not only is this advantageous in terms of national security, but it provides for a tremendous potential world market, where rural, off-grid energy sources are a viable alternative to Fossil Energy Importation, or to expensive long-distance hook-ups to centralized power sources.
2. Solar Technologies have proven effective and reliable over many years. Photovoltaic Panels have very long lifespans, and the energy payoff over the panel's lifespan is significant.
3. Solar Panels scale well to residential applications. Given a condusive market, homeowners and developers will have a new opportunity to add value to their investments in real-estate, while at the same time supporting the reduction of the nation's Carbon Footprint. America's recently booming Housing Market would be well served by a new way to add value to existing investments.
It is my firm belief that America, and the strength of the American Economy, stands to benefit greatly by understanding and acknowledging the problems at hand, and as has been done in other cases, by stepping up to find the solutions through dedication to Innovation and Hard Work.
The question is not whether we can do it, but whether we will choose to do it.
It should also be noted that several influencial players in the rest of the world are not waiting for the United States to make a move. If America does not Innovate, then others will, and those others will gain the benefit of that Effort.
So, what is AmericanSolarEconomy about?
Simple. I am working to provide a repository for information related to America's growing Solar and Alt-Energy Economy. A large part of this is in the news of the day, where we see evidence on a daily basis of Individuals, Corporations, and Governments that are standing up and taking action. I am also working to support the case and the industry through selected links to a broad range of informational resources throughout the web.