Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Gas going back up...

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

Exxon / BP - Saudi / Venezuela Split.

Hmm, just a thought.

BP is signing with Venezuela, Exxon is not.

Shouldn't this lower oil prices as competitive forces between the companies and nations become more distinct?

Bad News for Exxon and ConocoPhillips.

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

Thoughts on Solar Industry Risk.

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.

Demonstration of Growing Difficulties in Oil.

US firms 'reject' Venezuela deal

Thursday, June 21, 2007

China passes US as leading Carbon Emitter.

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.

On the Senate Energy Bill

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.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Energy Bill Notes - No Compromise

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.

Caterpillar attacked by Conservatives on Global Warming

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

Wrong thinking...

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.

In a nutshell...

Posted to

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

The Plan...

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.