Tesla, First Solar, Better Place and Comments on a Weird Quarter in Cleantech

Wow.  This has been a really interesting few months in cleantech. First Solar announced a $0.99 cent/Wp target within 4 years for installed with trackers utility scale in its investor deck.  That equates to around $4-5 henry hub gas price in a new combined cycle gas plant. The scary thing is that best utility scale […]

Contrarian Wisdom Isn’t Necessarily Better Than Conventional Wisdom

For years, many observers (including myself) have argued that — from an environmental perspective — it is preferable for energy prices to be higher, so as to (1) discourage consumption of energy, mostly from fossil fuels which generates significant environmental impact, and (2) make various forms of energy efficiency and cleaner (if not zero-emission) alternative […]

TVA Privatization: An Idea Whose Time Has Not Come, And Is Not Approaching

For those who are irate about the U.S. government intervening in the energy markets, you’ll have to go back a long time to find when that was not the case. To illustrate, rewind 80 years:  in the 1930’s, the Administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt looked at the physical and economic backwaters of southern Appalachia and […]

Survey of Advanced Energy Business Executives

In April, the Advanced Energy Economy Institute (AEEI) released the synthesis of a survey of executives in the advanced energy sector conducted by PA Consulting to suggest priorities for U.S. energy policy. The report, Accelerating Advanced Energy in America, outlined business challenges and policy challenges thwarting the growth of the advanced energy sector, in order […]

Speed in the Oil Patch – Automation at the Wellhead looks like Cleantech

I had a chance to wander around the Offshore Technology Conference this week and chat about some of the technologies on display. OTC is still heavily a mechanical engineer’s conference.  Despite the high tech nature of the industry, in large part vendors are not yet leading customers, and steel still rules the day in technology. […]

Reporting from Omaha

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 […]

ABB’s New Solar Star

Over the weekend, ABB (NYSE: ABB) announced the $1 billion acquisition of Power-One (NASDAQ: PWER), which makes a wide spectrum of power conversion electronics equipment. Notably, Power-One is a major player in the market for inverters, which convert DC power into AC power.  In turn, inverters are important for synchronizing DC-based technologies such as batteries, […]

Simple Thoughts on Aggie Muster

Simple Thoughts on Aggie Muster Written on Muster’s Eve April 20th 2013 the year of the birth of my daughter Softly call the Muster, gently call the Roll. Another year is passing, time will take her toll. My family is remembered, as I’ll be remembered too. Remember me my brethren; I am remembering you. Softly […]

A Tale of Two EVs

Albert Einstein once said:  “Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler.”  Pundits always pursue the former, but often fail to uphold the latter. Such has been the case recently in regards to the prospects for electric vehicles.  Will electric vehicles be commercially successful or won’t they?  As often happens, there is superficial evidence […]

Who’s Got Nest?

Like most other tech sectors, the cleantech world is subject to fads that are overhyped — meteoric rises, sometimes followed by spectacular flameouts. It seems like we humans like to create heroes and then tear them down. There’s a particular tendency to sing the praises of the latest “hot company”:  the one that has the […]

Failing The Course: Energy Economics and Subsidies

When I was a young lad in college, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the early 1980s, I took a course in energy economics taught by Prof. Morris Adelman.  I was an anomaly:  there were probably no more than a handful of courses then being taught in energy economics in the colleges and […]

Fracking: Where Do You Stand?

In the energy sector, there are few topics that generate more debate today than the relative merits/demerits of fracking.  To see just how strongly-held yet evenly-divided opinion is, check out this online debate moderated by The Economist and sponsored by Statoil (NYSE: STO). The question is framed simply:  “Do the benefits derived from shale gas […]

Strategic Drivers for Acquisitions in the Water Sectors

I recently read an article by Chris Gasson of Global Water Intelligence which was thought-provoking and insightful. The article addressed a number of issues surrounding water technology company acquisitions and raised a question regarding what problems companies are looking to solve through these acquisitions. In my experience advising large water companies’ strategic acquisitions activity, I have identified […]

Chinese Food For Thought

As I posted a few years ago, so many of the best opportunities for cleantech to have immediate benefit can be found in China. Every day, evidence accumulates supporting this thesis.  Of course, this winter’s air pollution crises in Beijing and other cities made global news.  More gruesome was last week’s discovery of nearly 7,000 […]

MIT Energy Summit 2013

The key message coming out of the MIT summit was whether if low natural gas prices will have an impact on investing in alternative energy technologies. While the wind market in the US has added significant capacity in the last few years, the availability of cheap natural gas has made them less competitive.

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