29 December 2010

Joshua Brown's 3 Biggest Investment Fads Of 2011

Joshua Brown, one of our StockTwits favorites aka @reformedbroker, was on CNBC last night and offered three investment fads for 2011, including social networking IPOs, muni defaults, and commodities like agriculture.

Of special interest to Green Skeptic readers, Josh suggests avoiding anything tied too closely to the Chinese infrastructure build-out and he doesn't think natural gas is quite ready, but suggests "keeping an eye on it" and "maybe even start to nibble," especially if oil goes over $100, which several sources are fully expecting in 2011.

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27 December 2010

Volatility Alert: Crude Is Rising, But Not Because Of Demand

Business Insider had an interesting post yesterday: "Just in time for Christmas, On Wednesday, Dec. 22, U.S. gasoline prices hit an average $3 a gallon for the first time in more than two years, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report. Meanwhile, U.S. stocks and oil also climbed to the highest levels since 2008."

In the piece, Dian Chu speculates that "if the stars are aligned, that is, global economy [is] really picking up steam with two consecutive months of good U.S. jobs numbers, inflation concerns and QE could form a perfect storm for crude to hit $110 to $115 a barrel late March or April next year, after a few retracements, and if it breaks above $100. At that level, gasoline at the pump could hit $3.70-$3.80 a gallon range."

Read it here:

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24 December 2010

Green Skeptic Friday LinkFest - 12/24/10: 2011 Cleantech Predictions Edition

A Steaming Bowl of Chinese Food
This is a special edition of the Friday LinkFest on Christmas Eve.

Here are links to a variety of cleantech predictions for 2011:

Venture Beat


Kachan & Co

GigaOm's Katie Fehrenbacher and Jeff St. John

Rob Day/CleantechVC

Lightspeed Venture Partners 

and, finally,

Earth2tech’s Top 10 Cleantech IPOs Picks for 2011

Have a great holiday if you celebrate it -- and enjoy your Chinese food, if you don't celebrate!

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23 December 2010

Santa's Email to Climate Skeptics: An Annual Green SkepticTradition

A few Christmases ago, I published this email from Santa, which arrived on the night before the night before Christmas. Readers had so much fun with it, it's become an annual tradition. Enjoy!

And have a Happy Holiday.

Scott, aka The Green Skeptic


TO: Global Warming Skeptics
FROM: Santa Claus
DATE: A few nights before Xmas
SUBJECT: My Christmas List

This is Santa, writing from the North Pole. Soon I'll be gathering all the toys for all the good little girls and boys and packing them in my sleigh to begin our journey, our night of nights.

The reindeer, however, are starting to complain about hoof-rot. Apparently, they've been standing around in too much slush. This has put me in a decidedly prickly mood this Christmas.

You know me; I'm not a single-issue guy. I believe that as long as you are good, and I mean good for goodness' sake, you deserve some slack on the other stuff. I'm an equal opportunity distributor. I know whether you've been bad or good or just plain evil. You also know I'm not one to discriminate against one group of people or another, believers or non-believers.

But this year is different. This year, I'm making a few changes to my list. I'm checking it twice and have decided that the naughty include any one of you out there who do not believe in global warming. All you climate change skeptics out there, you are on the naughty list this year.

Oh, you know who you are. And I've got one special gift for you: Nothing but COAL. You like the stuff so much -- and it's such a big part of what's leading to climate change -- you might as well have bags and bags of it and nothing more.

Make no mistake. Global warming is happening. You don't have to show me any scientific reports, although some nifty ones have shown up in my email box lately, sent to me from the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

No, you don't have to convince me; I'm a believer. All I have to do is look out my window to my back yard, what's left of it! It's a soupy mess out there.

We usually have a good bit of ice up here at the North Pole -- and early. That's important, too; you see, every year the elves and I construct a temporary workshop up here where we make the toys and assemble the other goodies. The earlier the ice, the sooner we get started.

Although I have figured out a way to deliver the entire shipment of gifts on my list in one night, I still haven't perfected the manufacturing process. I can't speed it up. (Some of that I blame on the unions.) We need all the ice we can get up here for there is no solid ground.

But this year, the ice cover was the lowest it's been in almost 30 years. And at least one of those science groups studying this stuff tells me that, according to their models, by 2040, we'll have mostly open water up here. (They sent me this short animation clip, which sends chills up my spine: Arctic Ice Melt.)

Mrs. Claus has even started looking for Houseboats on Craig's List!

So, dear boys and girls, you better not pout or cry or whine or deny climate change any longer. And I'm telling you why: because climate change is coming to town. Time's a wasting. We need to do something about this now, before it's too late. Or before I have to move all of my operations to the South Pole!

Here's wishing a carbon-neutral Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

S. Claus, North Pole

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21 December 2010

Cape Wind's Search for Buyers: The Green Skeptic on FOX Business

This morning I spoke with Stuart Varney and Company about the Cape Wind project.

Cape Wind is proposing America's first offshore wind farm on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound. Miles from the nearest shore, 130 wind turbines will harness the wind to produce up to 420 megawatts of clean, renewable energy.

The developer has sealed a deal with the utility National Grid for half its power, but is still seeking a buyer for the other half.

Here is the video:

If the player doesn't work in your browser, here is a link to the video:

GS on FOX Biz

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20 December 2010

On Energy Transition, US Military Leads

Photo Credit: US Army
As Tom Friedman points out in his column yesterday, "the U.S. military loses one person, killed or wounded, for every 24 fuel convoys it runs in Afghanistan."

Soldiers and others are put in harm's way as part of convoys, hundreds and hundreds of them, needed to transport fuel to run air conditioners and diesel generators in remote bases all over that country.

But what if the "U.S. Navy and Marines could replace those generators with renewable power and more energy efficient buildings, and run its ships on nuclear energy, biofuels and hybrid engines, and fly its jets with bio-fuels"?  One out-come, Friedman argues, would be to "out-green the Taliban."

The military is making a strategic move to alternative energy and energy efficiency, in part because it recognizes the national security issues associated with dependence on fossil fuel energy and the potential impacts of climate change. 

In its 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review Report, the Department of Defense (DoD) found that climate change "may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world.”

This threat, coupled with an energy budget of $20 billion, has led the DoD to take steps to reduce is dependence on fossil fuels, strive for energy efficiency, and reduce its carbon emissions by developing and deploying clean tech innovations.

They have also recognized the potential threats from so-called "peak oil," warning last spring "that surplus oil production capacity could disappear within two years and there could be serious shortages by 2015 with a significant economic and political impact," according to a report from the US Joint Forces Command.

The US military has long been a leader in biodiversity conservation as well, with partnerships with organizations such as the Nature Conservancy, NatureServe, and others around the US.  The DoD even has a special "Conservation Conveyance," which allows closed military bases to be transferred into permanent conservation status.

It should come as no surprise that the US military is becoming a leader in green tech innovation.  Defense led much of the global technological innovation of the last half of the 20th Century after the creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) in 1958. 

ARPA, or DARPA, as it is known today, developed the weapons that transformed warfeare in the last century, but also led to the electronic computer, robotics, the Global Positioning System (GPS), and the Internet.

The new green economy may in fact be led by a green revolution in the military, giving new meaning to DoD's mission of deterring war and protecting the security of the US.

As Friedman points out, the green innovations being fostered by the military "could save lives, money and the planet, and might even help us win — or avoid — the next war."

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17 December 2010

Green Skeptic Friday LinkFest - 12/17/10

Festivus Pole Lot, Milwaukee, WI
Time for Friday LinkFestivus!

First, Nissan delivered its first LEAF electric vehicles this week. Here is a video of the press conference in San Francisco: LEAF Lands

And in case you missed Nissan's polar bear commercial for LEAF, which has its fans and detractors (we think it's all in good fun): Polar Bear Hug

Speaking of polar bear habitat, if global warming is melting the Arctic, will Santa Claus go out of business?

There's been a lot of discussion about the a new, more realistic conversation starting to happen around energy:

Here's Andy Revkin on An Energy Menu for That Works for the Long Haul. The comments are worthy reading too.

And my take from earlier this week: It's About Time

The New York Times reported on the US Energy Department's prediction that the price of natural gas and electricity will be low over the next quarter-century, and crude oil will become more expensive but not radically so, contradicting some widely held notions: The Energy Future Ain't What It Used To Be

The myth of China’s switch to so-called clean energy has been "blown right out of the water," according to research by HSBC Bank: China's Coal Rush

One of our favorite green bloggers, Shari Shapiro, sheds light on the green impact of the stimulus: It's the Economy, Stupid

VantagePoint Venture Partners reportedly is raising a $1.5 billion fund to bridge the manufacturing gap of cleantech startups: VantagePoint. VantagePoint has been an investor in Tesla, China's Goldwind, BetterPlace, and MiaSolé, among other cleantech companies.

Kleiner Perkins debunks rumors that they are getting out of the greentech investing business. Greentech Media reports the firm made an investment in home energy efficiency player OPower as part of a $50 million round (along with Accel and NEA), and has joined Google Ventures investing in solar SaaS firm Clean Power Finance.

Finally, Heidi Moore, our favorite self-professed "handmaiden to capitalism," pointed us to this hilarious Xtranormal video about the plight of reporters faced with PR agents from hell:

Have a great weekend!

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16 December 2010

It's About Time for a New Conversation About Energy Innovation

There's a new conversation happening around energy and it's about time.

Readers of The Green Skeptic know I am very interested in the question of how we can use good, old-fashioned American ingenuity to build an economy based on energy innovation, efficiency and manufacturing -- a new green economy.

Yesterday, a group of leading policy think tanks, including the American Enterprise Institute, Breakthrough Institute, Brookings, along with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation hosted a day-long conference on how to spur energy innovation.

Much of what was discussed there echoes what we've been saying here on The Green Skeptic: we need to focus on stimulating innovation. I also believe that such innovation can't just be focused on future, wish-list technologies, but the practical, real-world solutions of today.

This means an inclusive approach that identifies ways to use fossil fuels more efficiently and in a less environmentally damaging way, as well as increasing the efficiency of alternative energy technologies, the smart grid, storage, and demand management.

While I couldn't attend the event, there has been much written about it by several of the participants and organizers:

Here's Rob Atkinson, Ted Nordhaus, and Michael Shellenberger of Breakthrough Institute writing in advance of the event: Breakthrough

Marc Gunther of Fortune and The Energy Collective: Gunther

And Andy Revkin of the New York Times: Dot Earth

When it gets down to it, the critical question is how can we meet the predicted ten-fold increase in global energy demand in a way that is environmentally benign or even regenerative, while recognizing that fossil fuels will be with us for some time to come?

I'm encouraged that this conversation is starting. We can't afford to wait any longer.

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14 December 2010

The Perils of Carbon Offsets: ‘Perverse’ CO2 Payments

Writing in Yale Environment 360, Mark Schapiro reports on European companies that have been overpaying China to offset their own carbon emissions by incinerating a powerful greenhouse gas known as hfc 23.

If that's not all, those very payments have spurred manufacturing of an ozone-depleting refrigerant, hcfc 22, that is being smuggled into the U.S. and used illegally.

As Schapiro puts it,
That black market completes a global circuit unique to the era of climate change: From China’s industrial zones, the credits for the greenhouse gases — bought and sold as commodities on the global carbon markets — flow to European companies that need them to continue polluting at home, while the underlying ozone-depleting gas responsible for creating those credits flows to American companies seeking discounted refrigerants.
This speaks to the perils of carbon offset programs and potential abuses, but also that safeguards such as the NGOs set up to monitor offset programs do play a valuable role.  According to Schapiro, "Two European nonprofits, the Germany-based CDM Watch and the London-based Environmental Investigations Agency, kicked off the controversy when they asserted last summer that European companies were paying dramatically inflated prices for the emissions credits."

Read the full article at ‘Perverse’ CO2 Payments Send Flood of Money to China

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13 December 2010

Metrodome Roof Collapse Tied to Global Cooling?

Remarkable footage of the roof at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota, collapsing under the weight of heavy snow.

Some climate skeptics are claiming the collapse is a clear sign of global cooling. Others blame friends of Brett Favre, who wanted to see his consecutive game streak continue.  Here's the footage:

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10 December 2010

EPA Delays Enforcement of CO2 Emissions Regulations: The Green Skeptic on FOX Business

This morning I sat down with Stuart Varney & Co on FOX Business to talk about the EPA's decision to delay enforcement of CO2 emissions.  Here's the video:

If the player doesn't work in your browser, here is a link: Green Skeptic on FOX

Green Skeptic Friday LinkFest - 12/10/10

Watercolor of John Lennon by SEA
First up, an interesting debate on whether Moore's Law makes sense in cleantech. Here's Convergence of Prevailing Laws — Haitz + Moore — Enables Intelligent Lighting by Brian Chemel, which points to a post from earlier in the year by Martin LaMonica of CNET: Can green tech operate under Moore's Law?

Have a look at this promotional video of Solyndra's highly automated solar plant. Now that's high-tech manufacturing!

Carbon War Room Rates Efficiency of 60,000 Ships at New Data Hub

An excellent profile of Teddy Roosevelt IV by one of our favorite business writers (and self-professed handmaiden to capitalism, Heidi Moore: Backing a Wind Farm, a Quiet Voice With a Big Stick $$

GigaOm pubbed its Cleantech Blog’s Top 5 Investors (+ 5 Risky Ones)

And in news about Green Skeptic held companies:

The EnerNOC Shopping Spree Continues With Global Energy Partners $ENOC

And Ormat appointed John Hancock for DOE loan guarantee ~US$300m $ORA

Finally, this week marked the 30th anniversary of the death of John Lennon, who would have been 70 on October 9th.  Here's a poem I wrote for the occasion: "John Lennon at 70."
Have a great weekend everyone!

(Disclosure: I hold long positions in ENOC and ORA. This post is for informational purposes only and is neither intended to be investment advice nor an offer, or the solicitation of any offer, to buy or sell any securities.)

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06 December 2010

Climate Change Groups Need to Rethink Their Approach

Yesterday morning I awoke to NPR Weekend Edition Sunday's report on how climate groups are retooling their arguments for global warming. It was music to my ears.

(And, yes, once you get over the shock that I've been a loyal NPR listener for 20+ years, you can read on.)

"The number of Americans who believe that global warming is a scientific fact has been dropping, and environmental groups and climate scientists who say the evidence for warming is clear are scratching their heads over this reversal and scrambling to find a new strategy," the reporter Christopher Joyce noted.

He went on to point out that "now climate activists are doing some soul-searching about where they've gone wrong. For one thing, they've been preaching to the choir."

Surprise, surprise. It's something we've been saying here at The Green Skeptic for a long time. Climate change boosters (or "Climate Hawks," as they've tried to rebrand themselves lately; ugh) are preaching to the choir and their message has gotten increasingly strident and alarmist.

They are using fear as a motivator, which only goes so far. Fear breeds inertia.

Yet the fear-mongers continue to beat the fear drum. And by focusing on the most extreme threats and doom-and-gloom scenarios, they are losing credibility.

Another thing we've been saying here for some time was echoed by Alden Meyer, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, who told NPR that "climate activists need to offer solutions, not just problems."

"But old habits are hard to break," says Joyce.

We believe it is time for a pragmatic and practical voice to emerge on the issue – and to take the conversation Beyond Global Warming -- which is what we're trying to provide at The Green Skeptic.

Listen to the story here: NPR

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03 December 2010

Green Skeptic Friday LinkFest - 12/03/10

Smoke gets in his eyes on electric cars.
December already? Where did this year go? Oh well, looking forward to 2011.

We're planning some big changes for The Green Skeptic in the New Year, with expanded skeptical coverage to help you make sense of what is hype and what is ripe in the new green economy.

Meanwhile, it's Friday, so here are our links for this week:

The Guardian's environment correspondent, Jonathan Watts, looks at one problem not likely to improve soon: China's dependence on coal: China Coal.

Which may explain why China is starting to get serious about "clean coal": "China Shenhua to begin storing carbon in 2011"

More on China from the Harvard Business Review with an article by Thomas M. Hout and Pankaj Ghemawat on "China vs the World: Whose Technology Is It?"

Ernst & Young released their annual Country Attractiveness Indices report, which ranks 30 global renewable energy markets by scoring investment strategies and resource availability. Guess who comes out on top? Hint: It ain't the good ol' USofA.

In part because ratings-hungry pundits, like my FOX colleague pictured above, are pimping their bias against electric cars. I really don't get it, Rush, it's an American innovation, fercrissakes! "The Patriotic Endeavor Rush Limbaugh Won’t Support: Electric Cars"

and in part because we are falling behind in R&D, according to US Energy Secretary Chu, who calls the Energy Race our new "Sputnik" Moment. (PDF)

Finally, two veterans of the cleantech investing space weigh-in:

First Cleantech VC Rob Day on "How Cleantech VCs are reacting to the broken venture model"

and the renowned Dallas Kachan offers his cleantech predictions for 2011 in Renewable Energy World.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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02 December 2010

The EPA @ 40: The Green Skeptic on FOX Business

 I spoke with Charles Payne of Varney & Co. on FOX Business this morning about the 40th Anniversary of the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Here's the video:

If the player doesn't work in your browser, here is a link: EPA

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30 November 2010

The Green Skeptic’s "Rational Approach to Cleantech" on Competitive Futures PodCast

I sat down yesterday with Eric Garland to explain my opinions on cleantech, green, and more. Here's what Eric had to say on Competitive Futures:

"With a philosophy straight from the European Enlightenment and with credentials from the heart of the environmental movement, Scott Edward Anderson is a rare voice amongst the crowd of green economy hypesters and cynics. In a style that strongly recalls our own approach to holistic, data-based, rational analysis of the future, Scott advises companies, governments and investors on how to think about cleantech with all the complexity and cold logic that it deserves.

"In this edition of the Competitive Futures Podcast, Scott shoots a hole in most of the "green" technologies that are supposed to save us, tells us why China is rapidly outpacing the West on cleantech investments, and why fixing 100 year old buildings is just as important as adopting brand new, shiny silver, nanotech-injected technology when it comes to the long-term future of our energy-efficient, green and clean 21st century economy."

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29 November 2010

Cancun in November? To Dive, but not to COP

View from Club Akumal, Mexico
Sure I'd love to be in Cancun this week, as the chill winds of November blow into December. But I'd go for the diving rather than the hot air of another conference of the parties on climate change.

I just don't think anything will come of more meetings on how to stop climate change.

The Economist agrees with me it would appear from the cover story in this week's issue.

"In the wake of the Copenhagen summit, there is a growing acceptance that the effort to avert serious climate change has run out of steam," the editors write before suggesting that we may be better focused on adapting to the inevitable changes that are already set in motion.

"Since the beginning of time, creatures have adapted to changes in their environment. Unfortunately, such adaptation has always meant large numbers of deaths. Evolution works that way," the Economist asserts. "But humankind is luckier than most species. It has the advantage of being able to think ahead, and to prepare for the changes to come. That's what needs to happen now."

Indeed, that is what we've been suggesting for some time here at The Green Skeptic, and we see adaptation as one of the three key focus areas, along with increases in energy efficiency and R&D into energy innovations that will help us deal with the changes that may come.

It is, as the Economist suggests, "the craziest experiment mankind has ever conducted. Maybe in the long run it will be brought under control. For the foreseeable future, though, the mercury will continue to rise, and the human race must live with the problem as best it can."

But first we need to stop focusing on solutions that will not work and meetings that only lead to more meetings. We need to shift our focus to pragmatic solutions by doing what we do best as a species: adapt and innovate.

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26 November 2010

Green Skeptic Friday LinkFest - 11/26/10

A short week with the holiday in the US, so a little spare on the links today:

EnerNoc says it is well-Positioned to grow Demand Response market in PJM territory: $ENOC

Jim DiPeso of Republicans for Environmental Protection, says "Don't let Congress handcuff EPA," in FrumForum.

Stephen King (no, not that one, the one at HSBC)asks "Who needs who? America and China must avoid making past mistakes again," in The Independent.

Kiran Stacey writes in Financial Times that greens are waking up to China’s coal boom: China Coal

And speaking of China, The Economist, featured an obituary of the great Liang Congjie, China's first environmentalist, who died on Oct 25: China green.

Martin Lamonica of CNET suggests that energy technology entrepreneurs need to think more like chess players and look to China and elsewhere, where the regulatory environment is simpler and governments are more welcoming: Look Overseas, Young Startup.

T-T-That's all folks, I now return you back to your leftover turkey already in progress.

(Disclosure: I hold a long position in ENOC. This post is for informational purposes only and is neither intended to be investment advice nor an offer, or the solicitation of any offer, to buy or sell any securities.)

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24 November 2010

Six Years of The Green Skeptic

Six years ago today I launched The Green Skeptic as a blog devoted to challenging assumptions about how we live on the earth and protect our environment.

It's been fun and I'm cooking up a lot of changes for my 7th inning ahead.

For the 5th anniversary last year, I wrote:
People often ask me why I'm skeptical and what I'm skeptical about.

Well, the answer is, I believe that skepticism is a hallmark of human nature. Without it, we are sheep.

I think we need to constantly challenge our assumptions about the way the world works or how others tell us it works. We must question even what our leaders tell us, regardless of what side of the aisle their derriere rests upon or what side of the issue they claim to represent...

...So, I'll remain a skeptic and try to stop the bleating where I can.

I am neither a climate skeptic nor a climate denier, but I do believe the rhetoric on both sides is spoiling our chances to achieve true prosperity through innovation.

We need to stop all the bleating and blathering and get on with a new agenda for our economy, a new green economy that balances technological progress and environmental impact.

As my pal Andy Swan says, we need "a 'green' that embraces the technological efficiencies that can make our world more productive and cleaner while concurrently lowering the barriers to entry for persons and businesses requiring energy to succeed."

Succeed. Innovation. Prosperity.

Sensing a theme here?

Ultimately, my skepticism about the way "we live on the earth and protect our environment" all gets back to making our world a better place -- a better place for all of us to thrive and grow and, to use one of Andy's favorite words, win.

Thanks for reading; I hope to continue to provide value for the next seven years.

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22 November 2010

Gore Now Says Corn Ethanol "Was Not a Good Policy"

Al Gore - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting ...
Traded Corn for Votes?
Despite being a proponent of corn ethanol policy in the past, former vice-president Al Gore now says corn-based ethanol in the United States was "not a good policy."

His comments, made at a green energy business conference in Athens, came as tax breaks for ethanol are up for renewal at the end of this year.

According to the International Energy Industry, ethanol subsidies reached US$7.7 billion last year and biofuels as a whole garnered more subsidies than any other form of renewable energy.

"First generation ethanol I think was a mistake," said Gore. "The energy conversion ratios are at best very small." But, he went on to say that it is difficult to change such programs once strong lobbies keep it going.

He blamed his own support on his presidential ambitions.

"One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee," Gore offered. "And I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president."

In other words, Gore wanted support from the corn lobbies for his failed presidential candidacy.

The unintended consequences of ramping up US corn ethanol production became apparent in 2008 when food prices skyrocketed, in part because of the conversion of food crops to biofuel production.

This year, according to Goldman Sachs analysts, the ethanol industry will consume about 41 percent of US corn or about 15 percent of the corn crop worldwide.

We've been saying for some time that corn ethanol was the Abilene Paradox of alternative energy, in which a group of people collectively decide on a course of action that is counter to their better judgment.

With all the folks who jumped on the bandwagon standing to benefit from the widespread production -- from farmers and producers in the US Midwest to presidential candidates -- it appears self-interest may have been the real driver of the ethanol-powered bus to the west Texas town.

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19 November 2010

Green Skeptic Friday LinkFest - 11/19/10

map Raja Ampat islands, IndonesiaImage via WikipediaHere are my links for this week:

First up, the goverment's favorite mule GM Celebrates IPO with $40 Million Investment in Clean Energy. Hmm, did the Obama administration influence that at all?
One of my favorite places on the planet, Raja Ampat, Indonesia, got a boost this week, as the country declared a vast sanctuary for sharks, turtles and manta rays -- and the people who depend upon the fishery.

Closer to home, and good news for my friends in Philly:

Nine firms get a total of $2.3M from Ben Franklin Technology Partners.

Philly receives grant for electric vehicle chargers.

And, phinally, the Philadelphia Eagles plan to "phly" by making their stadium energy self-sufficient.

Deeper down (below the surface, actually), Tom Konrad of Renewable Energy World says that, if you play your cards right, investing in geothermal stocks could be good. (But expect volatility.) His Top 3 Geothermal E&P Companies includes Green Skeptic favorite Ormat Technologies ($ORA).

Do we need software to hold "Greenwashers" accountable? Hunter Richards thinks so, and explains why.

Two of our favorite VCs John Doerr and Frank Wilson face off on the internet bubble: The Internet Bubble Is Real. That’s Where The Agreement Ends from peHUB.

Cleantech Group reports that while the $1.6 billion in cleantech venture investment in 3Q10 was down 25 percent from last quarter, it brings the investment through the first three quarters of 2010 to $5.8 billion -- a number that already exceeds the total cleantech venture investment in all of 2009.  It's all in how you look at it.

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone.

(Disclosure: I hold a long position in ORA. This post is for informational purposes only and is neither intended to be investment advice nor an offer, or the solicitation of any offer, to buy or sell any securities.)
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18 November 2010

GOP Bob Inglis Goes 'On-the-Record' About Climate Change

Whatever you think about Bob Inglis (R-South Carolina), you've got to hand it to him for going out "on-the-record" on climate change and calling out his peeps for missing the commercial opportunity.

Here's a clip of his remarks via ThinkProgress:

And here are some of the best bits:
Kim Beazley who's Australia's ambassador to the United States tells me that when he runs into a climate skeptic, he says to them, "Make sure to say that very publicly, because I want our grandchildren to read what you said and what I said."
Tom Friedman gave me this great analogy yesterday -- Your child is sick. 98 doctors say treat him this way. Two say no, this other way is the way to go. I'll go with the two. You're taking a big risk with those kids. Because 98 of the doctors say, "Do this thing," two say, "Do the other."...
And I would also suggest to my Free Enterprise colleagues -- especially conservatives here -- whether you think it's all a bunch of hooey, what we've talked about in this committee, the Chinese don't. And they plan on eating our lunch in this next century. They plan on innovating around these problems, and selling to us, and the rest of the world, the technology that'll lead the 21st century.
So we may just press the pause button here for several years, but China is pressing the fast-forward button.
And as a result, if we wake up in several years and we say, "gee, this didn't work very well for us. The two doctors didn't turn out to be so right. 98 might have been the ones to listen to." Then what we'll find is we're way behind those Chinese folks.
Because you know, if you got a certain number of geniuses in the population -- if you're one in a million in China, there's 1300 of you. And you know what? They plan on leading the future.
So whether you -- if you're a free enterprise conservative here -- just think: it's a bunch of hooey, this science is a bunch of hooey. But if you miss the commercial opportunity, you've really missed something.
We have a lot of people who make a lot of money on talk radio and talk TV saying a lot of things. They slept at a Holiday Inn Express last night, and they're experts on climate change. And those folks substitute their judgment for people who have PhDs and work tirelessly to discover the data.

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15 November 2010

Cleantech is Alive & Well in Philly

This is my own work, Public Domain Photograph,...
Photo by Ed Yakovich
If last week's events are any indication, cleantech is alive and well and living in Philadelphia.

The 2nd annual US-Israel Cleantech Conference, hosted by the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce, last Tuesday featured 11 companies from Israel, along with panels representing local companies and venture capital, and provided robust international dialog, as well as a showcase for innovation.

IMPACT 2010, formerly the MAC Alliance Conference, hosted its second cleantech track (full disclosure: I was part of the selection committee) during which 15 companies pitched their wares.  The quality of the presentations was indicative of the maturing of the sector in the region, as was the variety of presenting companies.

Everything from organic fertilizer to wireless electric vehicle charging, and from wastewater geothermal heat and cooling to a large scale water filtration system was represented, all from the Mid-Atlantic region.

I'll be posting more about the two conferences this week, as some of the panels and speakers were particularly informative.
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12 November 2010

Green Skeptic Friday LinkFest - 11/12/10

My "Jee" key is not functionin  on my laptop keyboard, so I'm  oin  to win  it here and see how many words I can write without the letter  .  Here are my links for this week:

The Green Skeptic?
First of all, I'm takin  an informal poll: A friend of a friend created this logo for The Green Skeptic. What do you think? Use or Lose?

(It's really hard to have to cut and paste every time you need to use a letter!)

Crowdsourced funding taking shape: Chinese VC Backs Green Energy Social Media Platform.

Don't believe in global warming? Bracken Hendricks says, That's not very conservative.

Leslie Blodgett took Notes From Recent Geothermal Meetings

GE Announces Largest Single Electric Vehicle Commitment, Commits to Convert Half of Global Fleet By 2015.

Finally, Eric Wesoff, writin in Greentech Media, offers reason #1 Why the Election is Bad for Cleantech.

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11 November 2010

Green Energy Reporter's Top 10 Players in Green Energy for October

John Woolard, Brightsource
Always interesting to see who makes the monthly "Top 10 Players in Green Energy" list from our friends at Green Energy Reporter.  Here is their Top 10 for October.

Google hanging at #2 for the second month in a row.

Brightsource Energy's John Woolard in the number one spot.

And BP is a sleeper in the #4 spot -- but GER explains that steadily increasing investments in alternative energy helps BP go from corporate villain to list worthy.

It just shows to go ya...

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09 November 2010

End of Carbon Credit Market? The Green Skeptic on FOX Business

I spoke this morning with Stuart Varney on FOX Business about the end of the Chicago Climate Exchange and the Obama administration's newly announced program to encourage energy efficiency upgrades.

If your browser doens't support this video format, here is a link: Green Skeptic on FOX Business

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08 November 2010

US and India to Cooperate on Clean Energy

Image by aquaview via Flickr
Reuters reported this morning that the United States and India will cooperate on clean energy projects, including shale gas development.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and U.S. President Barack Obama told a press conference today that the two countries will partner on a research and development center for cleantech, energy, and other green solutions in India.

" We have announced specific initiatives in the areas of clean energy, health and agriculture," Prime Minister Singh said in his remarks. "These include a joint clean energy research and development center, the establishment of a global disease detection center in India, and an agreement for cooperation in weather and crop forecasting."

The partners will provide annual funding of $5 million each for five years, which they hope will generate matching investments from the private sector.

"We agreed to deepen our cooperation in pursuit of clean energy technologies, including the creation of a new clean energy research center here in India, and continuing our joint research into solar, biofuels, shale gas and building efficiency," Mr. Obama said at the press conference reported by Reuters.

More information is available on this Fact Sheet on US India Partnership (PDF).
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05 November 2010

Green Skeptic Friday LinkFest - 11/05/10

Here are links for this week.  I'm speaking at the AlwaysOn Venture Summit Mid-Atlantic today.
The impact of Election 2010 on cleantech was offered by Clint Wilder from Clean Edge, Shari Shapiro in Cleantechies, while the Republicans for Environmental Protection congratulated the victorious GOP candidates it endorsed and urged problem-solving in the new Congressional makeup.

One of our favorite American Enterprise Institute bloggers, Kenneth P. Green, finally found common ground with Amory Lovins on the subject of eliminating all energy subsidies and creating a level, competitive playing field.

Meanwhile, in China, carbon industry experts say China’s carbon market presents massive growth opportunities in Energy China Forum.

Finally, the New York Times reported on the market for demand response getting crowded and primed for deals.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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01 November 2010

Wharton Energy Conference Tries to Bridge the Future

Judging by the commentary at last Friday's Wharton Energy Conference, the bridge to the future is a double-truss of traditional and alternatives.
The conference, held at the stodgy, old-fashioned Union League of Philadelphia, featured a stellar group of experts in three tracks, including representatives from traditional energy sources (fossil fuels, nuclear), alternatives, and the regulatory and financial players to help navigate.

And it was no more evident than in the sentiments expressed by the speakers over lunch.

"Traditional sources of energy are going to be with us a long time," said Mark Mills, founding partner of Digital Power Capital. "The world doesn't really react to $80 barrel oil. $80 a barrel is the new floor. $150 a barrel is not question of 'if' but 'when'."

Mills was participating in a mock scenario over lunch demonstrating how an energy storage company needs navigates between those who hold the purse strings and those who have the regulatory clout to help or hinder its business.

"As an investor, I want rules and guidelines, especially around interconnection and safety, to anticipate where it is going," said Mills. "It's not important to have the "right" rules, but just have the rules not change."

After lunch, investors shared their insights about the state of financing in cleantech and energy businesses.

"Renewables have taken a beating lately," offered Michael DeRosa, a managing partner with Element Partners, a leading investor in high growth companies in the energy and clean technology markets. "But let's remember that renewables is a broad category."

"Solar seems to be the most expensive, but it has the best potential for distributed generation and actually has the lowest subsidies," suggested DeRosa. "Geothermal is a very economic source of base load generation. We should be looking at more geothermal in the US."

DeRosa shared his concerns about picking one technology over another to receive subsidies.

"Does it make sense to subsidize electric vehicles or a particular type of solar product that may have risks," asked DeRosa. "Risk in light of a lithium shortage, for example or other rare earth material, versus a subsidy for natural gas vehicles and an industry where we know we can access all the reserves?"

The subject of reserves was also taken up by those on the traditional energy side of the equation.

Representatives from Shell, ExxonMobil, and Brazil's quasi-state oil exploration company Petrobras analyzed their quest for tapping into reserves and the need for all sources of energy for the future.

"We're still going to be using a lot of fossil fuels for the foreseeable future," said Robert Lance Cook of Shell. "We see natural gas as not just a bridge fuel, but as a destination. It has a 2-to-1 advantage over coal in terms of CO2."

The future of energy is paved by old technology, new technology -- and creative folks trying to develop the right policies and financing vehicles to make innovation possible.

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