Reporting from Omaha

On May 6, 2013, in Blog, by Richard T. Stuebi

Over the weekend, I attended the annual shareholder’s meeting of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:  BRK.A, BRK.B) in Omaha to hear the wit and wisdom of CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger.  For five hours on Saturday, Buffett and Munger fielded questions from panelists and investors on a wide range of topics.  A good synopsis […]

A Crystal Ball for 2013

On December 31, 2012, in Blog, by Richard T. Stuebi

Happy new year everyone.  As we reflect upon the year now past us, it’s also that time of year to look ahead. For the cleantech sector, Dallas Kachan from Kachan & Co. recently put his neck on the line with his “Predictions for Cleantech in 2013”.  It’s a good read, well-reasoned.  The sound-bite version: Cleantech […]

Cleantech to “Backtrack” in 2013?

On December 4, 2012, in Blog, by Dallas Kachan

Our firm, Kachan & Co., has just published its latest annual set of predictions for the cleantech sector for the year ahead. To our analysis, 2013 is shaping up to be something of a year of backtracking for the cleantech industry, a year that calls into question some of its traditional leading indicators of health, and […]

Going With The Flow

On May 28, 2012, in Blog, by Richard T. Stuebi

In recent months, I’ve come across more work being done in flow batteries than I’ve seen in the prior decade. I’ve been known in the past to say that fuel cells are kinda like fueled batteries.  Well, flow batteries really are fueled-batteries.  A traditional chemical battery is one sealed system that charges and discharges chemical […]

Dark Days for the Solar Industry

On April 23, 2012, in Blog, by Richard T. Stuebi

With the Solyndra debacle and other bankruptcies (e.g., Evergreen Solar, SpectraWatt), and a 65% decline in the MAC Global Solar Energy Index (SUNIDX), 2011 was a bad year for the solar industry.  Now into 2012, the hits just keep on coming. Last week, the long-time solar energy poster-child First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR) announced it was closing its […]

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Concentrating (on) Utility-Scale Solar Energy

On February 7, 2012, in Blog, by Richard T. Stuebi

Last week, at the invitation of organizer Green Power Conferences, I attended their Solar Power Generation USA conference in Las Vegas. Of course, there are innumerable events pertaining to the solar energy space, and each needs its own niche of differentiation.  This conference pertained solely to utility-scale solar power projects.  In other words, this is […]

Solar Eclipse

On September 6, 2011, in Blog, by Richard T. Stuebi

The sections of the blogosphere concerned with energy topics were abuzz last week with the news that Solyndra had filed for bankruptcy.   Until recently one of the poster children for cleantech, Solyndra’s apparent demise was all the more notable due to its blue chip investor roster and its prominent selection by the Department of Energy […]

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Failure Is An Option: Cost Is Not No Object

On August 8, 2011, in Blog, by Richard T. Stuebi

I’m pretty skeptical when it comes to polls about energy issues.  Way too often, the questions are posed in such a way that they practically compel the respondent to answer in a certain way.  Seriously:  if someone asks you “would you like the energy you use to have less environmental impact?”, are you going to […]

Rethinking the Power Pole

On March 28, 2011, in Blog, by Richard T. Stuebi

If there’s one segment of the energy sector that you’d think might be beyond significant technological innovation, it would be power transmission poles. And you’d be wrong! As profiled in a recent article in The Economist a novel transmission tower design called the Wintrack pylon has been co-developed by TenneT, the operator of the Dutch electricity grid, and KEMA, […]

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“Power Hungry” is Filling, But Not Fully Satisfying

On February 28, 2011, in Blog, by Richard T. Stuebi

It had been on my nightstand for awhile, but I finally got around to finishing Power Hungry: The Myths of ‘Green’ Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future by Robert Bryce. According to his own bio on the book jacket, “Bryce has been producing industrial-strength journalism for two decades” –whatever “industrial-strength” is supposed to […]

Branding Solar Energy

On November 16, 2010, in Blog, by Richard T. Stuebi

by Richard T. Stuebi One of the biggest challenges facing cleantech, relative to other forms of technological innovation, is that the basic markets being served are widely viewed as commodities. In high-tech, many people are willing to pay very high (and profitable) prices for new gadgets with cool functionality.  Witness just about everything that Apple makes, along […]

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Rare Earth

On April 5, 2010, in Blog, by Richard T. Stuebi

by Richard T. Stuebi Remember the white soul group on the Motown label, Rare Earth? If you do, sorry: this posting isn’t about them…. Nope, it’s about the fact that rare earth metals represent a unique problem — and opportunity — in the cleantech realm. As PBS reported on “Newshour” a few months ago (transcript […]

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Making Niche With Solar

On March 29, 2010, in Blog, by Richard T. Stuebi

by Richard T. Stuebi One of the better business books I’ve ever read is The Innovator’s Dilemma, by Clayton Christensen, a professor at Harvard Business School. The core message of the book is that disruptive technologies — ones that ultimately change an entire industry — only penetrate a marketplace by first serving tiny niches that […]

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Meeting the Energy and Climate Challenge

On March 16, 2010, in Blog, by John Addison

Dr. Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy and co-winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics (1997) delivered this speech “Meeting the Energy and Climate Challenge” at Stanford University on March 7, 2010, where he was formerly a professor. Dr. Chu called on the students and faculty to take part in a new Industrial Revolution. At the […]

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National Cut Your Energy Costs Day

On January 11, 2010, in Blog, by Richard T. Stuebi

by Richard T. Stuebi Did you know that yesterday, January 10, was “National Cut Your Energy Costs Day”? Until a couple days ago, I didn’t. That is, until the folks at SunRun, a provider of residential solar energy systems, promoted the day by sending out the following blast email: “Five quick tips on how cut […]

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Renewables Supply 10 Percent of U.S. Energy

On January 5, 2010, in Blog, by John Addison

According to the most recent issue of the “Monthly Energy Review” by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy (i.e., biofuels, biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, wind) provided 10.51% of domestic U.S. energy production during the first nine months of 2009 – the latest time-frame for which data has been published.Domestic energy production from renewable […]

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Renewable Fuel — Without Biomass

On July 27, 2009, in Blog, by Richard T. Stuebi

by Richard T. Stuebi In recent years, there’s been a major push for renewable fuels — to reduce our needs for petroleum, as well as to reduce the carbon footprint associated with burning petroleum-based fuels. The common thread of all of these renewable fuels has been the use of some sort of carbonaceous feedstock — […]

Peter Huber: Low-Confidence in Low-Carbon

On June 9, 2009, in Blog, by Richard T. Stuebi

by Richard T. Stuebi A few weeks ago, I wrote here that it is often a good thing to read and reflect upon intelligently-crafted opinions that differ from those you hold. A good example is offered by the essay “Bound to Burn” by Peter Huber, a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. In this thought-provoking […]

Ich Bin Ein Freiburger

On December 15, 2008, in Blog, by Richard T. Stuebi

by Richard T. Stuebi Earlier this month, I had the privilege of joining a delegation led by Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson to visit Baden-Wurttemberg, the southwestern-most state in Germany. The aim of the trip was to begin building stronger commercial bridges between the Cleveland area and Baden-Wurttemberg – two heavy industrial economies of similar […]

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Cleantech Venture Capitalists Beware – What You Don’t Know About Energy Can Kill You

On October 13, 2008, in Blog, by Neal Dikeman

Oil prices quietly (at least in the cleantech world), slipped below $80 last week, off some 50% from its highs a few months ago. Did I say 50%? Yes 50%. And gas has slipped, too, as with some variations, natural gas historically trades at a roughly 10:1 price ratio of Barrels to MCF. It’s easy […]

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