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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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