Article Index

Alternative Energy

Why This Surprising Partnership Is Leading the Way for Renewable Energy


There's a new centerpiece for the accelerating move to renewable energy: Hawaii. The state has opted to go all out on alternative energy.

In May, its legislature overwhelmingly passed a plan to move to complete independence from fossil fuels for power generation.

But Hawaii has an unusual partner in moving away from its reliance on oil and natural gas - the U.S. military.

What's happening in Hawaii may allow us to make some nice money from a state deciding to go green... and from the military's need to go off the grid...

Three Ways a Greek Debt Settlement Will Affect the Energy Sector

energy sector

There are now rising indications that the Greek government and its creditors are going to avert a full-blown financial meltdown...

And this means there are some positive developments coming for the energy sector.

Here's what needs to happen in Greece... and how it could affect an entire industry...

What "Tesla Energy" Means for the Tesla Motors Stock Price

tesla motors stock price

The Tesla Motors stock price dipped 1% this morning after Chief Executive Elon Musk unveiled a new suite of batteries designed to power homes and businesses.

Tesla Motors Inc. (Nasdaq: TSLA) stock quickly raced to $231.77 after the opening bell, but retreated to $224 by 11 a.m.

The new division of the company will be called "Tesla Energy." The devices that will be installed in homes are coined "Powerwalls."

The stock may be volatile now, but this announcement underscores the incredible long-term potential of TSLA stock...

The Solution to Alternative Energy's Biggest Roadblock

alternative energy

The alternative energy sector may have found a solution to its storage problem: the hydrogen battery.

Hydrogen's chief problem as an alternative energy source has always been the staggering price of delivery and transportation. But one company is making strides daily toward energy storage efficiency and price reduction.

We may be on the verge on something quite important for the entire energy sector. Here's everything you need to know...

These Alternative Energy Stocks Will Soar on China's Rare Metals War

alternative energy stocks

The prices of alternative energy stocks are at China's mercy right now. That's because for the past few years, China has been in a dispute with the United States, Europe, and Japan over its exports of rare earth metals. Though China has about 30% of world reserves of rare earths, it controls 80% of international production.

As this battle rages on, one thing is clear: The international solar industry could be turned on its side if China begins to hoard these metals and drive up their cost.

Of course, whenever there is market disruption like this, there is a profit opportunity...

Plug Power Inc. (Nasdaq: PLUG) Stock Back on Track with Results and Guidance

Plug electricity

Plug Power Inc. (Nasdaq: PLUG) shares jumped more than 18% to $8.48 intraday Thursday following solid earnings and rosy guidance.

While the fuel cell maker reported a loss, it still beat the sole estimate from Cowen & Co. and showed marked improvement in sales and revenue.

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Here's What's Behind Plug Power's (Nasdaq: PLUG) 565% Gain in 2014


Plug Power Inc. (Nasdaq: PLUG) gained 24.67% today (Monday), and that's just a small slice of the 565.16% surge PLUG stock has seen so far in 2014.

Last week, the alternative energy company was on an absolute tear. PLUG stock logged a net gain of 77%, despite a 5.78% drop Thursday on news that Plug Power would be conducting a $22.4 million secondary offering.

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Why Plug Power Inc. (Nasdaq: PLUG) Is Electrified with 334% Gains in 2014

Alternative energy company Plug Power Inc. (Nasdaq: PLUG) is on an absolute tear, up 334.19% so far in 2014 and 52.61% over the past five days.

On Tuesday, PLUG shares surged 20% to a fresh 52-week high of $7.02 before finishing the session up 15% to $6.99.

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How to Profit From Obama's War on Coal

isolated  coal, carbon nuggets

Since President Obama climate change speech at Georgetown University last week, Republicans and critics have accused Obama of engaging in a "War on Coal."

This isn't the first time that the President's statements on coal-fired power plants have raised questions about his energy policies. He even campaigned on higher electricity costs in 2008 when he suggested that costs would "necessarily sky rocket" to prevent the construction of new coal plants.

Obama has repeatedly argued for more spending on green investments in energy, despite multiple scandals involving campaign bundlers and billions of taxpayer dollars wasted on Department of Energy loans to companies like Fisker Automotive, Solyndra, and Beacon Power.

Now, as the President seems eager to double down on the "green" policies of 2009, which couldn't come close to creating the promised five million green jobs, the President wants to spend more of your money and execute new environmental and alternative energy laws and regulations by fiat.

But despite the stark reality that green technologies still haven't caught up with the free market solutions when it comes to bang for your buck, there's good news for investors looking to cash in on the President's War on Coal.

Just follow the money on the biggest trend in energy policy today.

It's All About Energy Efficiency

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How your Grandchildren can Reap Profits with These Nuclear Stocks

sign radiation

Three Mile Island. Chernobyl. Sellafield. Fukushima.

These are just the most famous names from an alarmingly long list of civilian nuclear incidents. Each of these accidents resulted sparked intense public debate on the future of civilian nuclear power.

Is it really safe? What do we do with the waste? It'll be toxic for tens of thousands of years? How bad will the next accident be? What kind of trade-off are we making? These are just some of the questions mooted in the wake of these and other nuclear accidents.

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Four Timely Moves For The Next Three Crises

Sorry to say, but we are only in a brief "lull" between crises. Nothing was resolved in the eleventh (and a half) hour Fiscal Cliff compromise, and three new crises are coming down the line in 2013. Here's what we face now and how you can still structure your energy portfolio for profits.

The Path to Energy Independence is More Rocky Than It Seems

You might have seen yesterday's headline in the Wall Street Journal: "U.S. Redraws World Oil Map."

As the article explains, U.S. oil production is now on pace to surpass Saudi Arabia by 2020. This would make the United States world's largest oil producer. We're already the second-largest natural gas producer, according to 2010 EIA estimates.

It's all thanks to the U.S. shale boom that has unlocked billions of barrels of oil and trillions of feet of natural gas from the Appalachian Mountains to the Pacific Coast, from the Bakken in North Dakota to the shale fields of southern Texas.

But all of this fracking has caused some serious economic and environmental problems.

And while I greatly advocate increased drilling and domestic production, we still must address a wide-range of problems now plaguing the shale oil and gas sectors.

After all - with apologies to Voltaire and Spiderman - with such great fortune comes greater responsibility.

That's why I am in the third day of what has become a very interesting conference here in Pittsburgh. It was convened to set the agenda moving forward to deal with the almost invisible aspects of shale oil and gas drilling.

In fact, for the first time, the conference's primary focus will be on the negatives caused by the drilling.

We also have questions surrounding the amount of water required to frack these formations (the process needs a lot of water to break open rock and release hydrocarbons), as well as the ongoing public health fears from the chemicals used.

Now, we are seeing parallel economic problems as well.

In the Marcellus basin, researchers are now recording some of these shortcomings and placing them in four basic categories.

The real concern is that these four problems - in infrastructure, labor, local inflation, and the environment - will remain well after the drilling (and the revenue) has moved on.

So before you decide to declare "energy independence", take a look at some of the downside that may come along with it.

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Oil Prices are Higher, But It Won't Be Much Help for Alternative Energy

Normally, when gas and oil prices accelerate on both sides of the Atlantic, alternative energy sources come into focus and become a big part of that "energy independence" discussion.

Well, not this time.

During the run up to mid-$4 gas and $147 a barrel oil in 2008, many assumed these costs would continue to advance. That made alternative sources - especially renewables such as solar, wind, biofuels, and geothermal - more attractive to investors, politicians, and energy enthusiasts.

Alternative sources are more expensive than conventional oil, gas, or coal. They are, however, more environmentally friendly. Paying those higher costs was regarded as a tradeoff for cleaner energy sources and a reduction in emissions.

Today, that view has changed.

U.S. Oil and Gas Squeezes Alternative Energy Prospects

It's part of the reason why I've recently avoided alternative energy companies like First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR), Canadian Solar (Nasdaq: CSIQ) or SunPower Corporation (Nasdaq: SPWR) in my Energy Advantage portfolio.

The economic downturn has made reliance on more expensive energy sources a difficult proposition to accept. Renewables are hardly a convincing argument anymore, especially during a sluggish economic recovery.

Yes, increasing oil and gas prices should reduce the spread between conventional and renewable, thereby providing stronger arguments for change. And proponents argue that alternatives provide an enhanced advantage given that they can also be domestically produced.

Just don't bet on these arguments holding up this time. Here's why.

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T. Boone Pickens Loses "Big" in Alternative Energy

No, he didn't lose a donkey.

But T. Boone Pickens lost a synonym for the animal and a whole lot of money in the wind industry.

"I'm in the wind business..." said Pickens yesterday on MSNBC's Morning Joe. "I've lost my ass in the business."

Pickens didn't blame his own investment for the current situation. He acknowledged that the technological shift in shale oil and gas development has greatly changed the game for American energy, and has made drilling more practical and affordable.

But the statement was just a precursor to his observations that Washington has little priority to setting a national energy policy that is both sustainable and affordable to Americans.

On the show, Pickens hammered home the point that the current administration not only lacks an intelligent energy policy. "They don't have an energy policy."

Why this statement is shocking to anyone, especially the hosts, shouldn't confuse anyone.

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An Unlikely New Supporter for Alternative Energy

During a biofuels conference at Mississippi State University last week, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced that his branch would be leading the charge to lessen the U.S. Department of Defense's (DOD) dependence on fossil fuels.

This involves a rather large chunk of traditional fuel usage.

On average, the federal government consumes about 2% of the fossil fuels used in the United States - and the DOD accounts for about 90% of that.

With the Obama administration emphasizing a move to alternative and renewable fuel sources, Mabus is signaling that the military is on board - sort of.

The Trouble with Foreign Oil

As a former governor of Mississippi and ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Secretary Mabus knows something about the position of oil in American foreign policy.

He noted during the conference that, for every $1 rise in the cost of crude oil, the Navy has to come up with at least $32 million.

So when the Libyan crisis hit earlier this year, and oil spiked $30 a barrel, that translated into almost $1 billion of additional costs to the Navy. It's no wonder, then, that Mabus is committed to meeting 50% of the Navy's onshore and fleet fuel needs with non-fossil sources by 2020.

Additionally, in what is now mantra from both sides of the political aisle, reliance on foreign oil sources presents a national security problem.

"When we did an examination of the vulnerabilities of the Navy and Marine Corps, fuel rose to the top of the list pretty fast," Mabus said. "We simply buy too much fossil fuel from actual and potentially volatile places. We would never allow some of these countries we buy fuel from to build our ships, our aircraft, our ground vehicles - but because we depend on them for fuel, we give them a say in whether our ships sail, our aircraft fly, our ground vehicles operate."

The push seems serious enough, and it does reflect similar statements coming from other branches of the military.

But questions remain: What are the alternative sources? How much volume can each genuinely give to the effort? And what are the possible drawbacks of such alternatives?

Biofuels to the Rescue

From the Navy's perspective, biofuels have shown some serious promise.

In certain theaters of operation, bio additives are already in use for both jet fuel and lighter vessel options. And the initial results have been quite encouraging.

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