|To: Eric who wrote (215)||9/22/2008 12:42:29 PM|
|This story came out over the weekend.|
For those of us who believe in Peak Oil here is a story on Matthew Simmons. If you saw the doc "A Crude Awakening" you will love this read.
Here comes $500 oil
If Matt Simmons is right, the recent drop in crude prices is an illusion - and oil could be headed for the stratosphere. He's just hoping we can prevent civilization from imploding.
By Brian O'Keefe, senior editor
Last Updated: September 22, 2008: 10:01 AM EDT
Matt Simmons argues that Saudi Arabia's oil supplies are much more limited than everyone thinks.
(Fortune Magazine) -- Matt Simmons is as perplexed as anyone that it has fallen to him to take on OPEC, Exxon, the Saudis, and all the other misguided defenders of conventional wisdom in the oil patch. Why should one investment banker with a penchant for research be required to point out what he regards as the obvious - that from here on out, oil supplies can't meet demand, and if we don't act soon to solve this crisis, World War III could be looming?
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|To: Sailtrader who wrote (168)||9/30/2008 7:25:43 AM|
|I'm posting the entire article for easy reference later (I'm dial-up):|
'Major discovery' from MIT primed to unleash solar revolution
Scientists mimic essence of plants' energy storage system
Anne Trafton, News Office
July 31, 2008
In a revolutionary leap that could transform solar power from a marginal, boutique alternative into a mainstream energy source, MIT researchers have overcome a major barrier to large-scale solar power: storing energy for use when the sun doesn't shine.
Daniel Nocera describes new process for storing solar energy
View video post on MIT TechTV:
Until now, solar power has been a daytime-only energy source, because storing extra solar energy for later use is prohibitively expensive and grossly inefficient. With today's announcement, MIT researchers have hit upon a simple, inexpensive, highly efficient process for storing solar energy.
Requiring nothing but abundant, non-toxic natural materials, this discovery could unlock the most potent, carbon-free energy source of all: the sun. "This is the nirvana of what we've been talking about for years," said MIT's Daniel Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT and senior author of a paper describing the work in the July 31 issue of Science. "Solar power has always been a limited, far-off solution. Now we can seriously think about solar power as unlimited and soon."
Inspired by the photosynthesis performed by plants, Nocera and Matthew Kanan, a postdoctoral fellow in Nocera's lab, have developed an unprecedented process that will allow the sun's energy to be used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. Later, the oxygen and hydrogen may be recombined inside a fuel cell, creating carbon-free electricity to power your house or your electric car, day or night.
The key component in Nocera and Kanan's new process is a new catalyst that produces oxygen gas from water; another catalyst produces valuable hydrogen gas. The new catalyst consists of cobalt metal, phosphate and an electrode, placed in water. When electricity -- whether from a photovoltaic cell, a wind turbine or any other source -- runs through the electrode, the cobalt and phosphate form a thin film on the electrode, and oxygen gas is produced.
Combined with another catalyst, such as platinum, that can produce hydrogen gas from water, the system can duplicate the water splitting reaction that occurs during photosynthesis.
The new catalyst works at room temperature, in neutral pH water, and it's easy to set up, Nocera said. "That's why I know this is going to work. It's so easy to implement," he said.
'Giant leap' for clean energy
Sunlight has the greatest potential of any power source to solve the world's energy problems, said Nocera. In one hour, enough sunlight strikes the Earth to provide the entire planet's energy needs for one year.
James Barber, a leader in the study of photosynthesis who was not involved in this research, called the discovery by Nocera and Kanan a "giant leap" toward generating clean, carbon-free energy on a massive scale.
"This is a major discovery with enormous implications for the future prosperity of humankind," said Barber, the Ernst Chain Professor of Biochemistry at Imperial College London. "The importance of their discovery cannot be overstated since it opens up the door for developing new technologies for energy production thus reducing our dependence for fossil fuels and addressing the global climate change problem."
'Just the beginning'
Currently available electrolyzers, which split water with electricity and are often used industrially, are not suited for artificial photosynthesis because they are very expensive and require a highly basic (non-benign) environment that has little to do with the conditions under which photosynthesis operates.
More engineering work needs to be done to integrate the new scientific discovery into existing photovoltaic systems, but Nocera said he is confident that such systems will become a reality.
"This is just the beginning," said Nocera, principal investigator for the Solar Revolution Project funded by the Chesonis Family Foundation and co-Director of the Eni-MIT Solar Frontiers Center. "The scientific community is really going to run with this."
Nocera hopes that within 10 years, homeowners will be able to power their homes in daylight through photovoltaic cells, while using excess solar energy to produce hydrogen and oxygen to power their own household fuel cell. Electricity-by-wire from a central source could be a thing of the past.
The project is part of the MIT Energy Initiative, a program designed to help transform the global energy system to meet the needs of the future and to help build a bridge to that future by improving today's energy systems. MITEI Director Ernest Moniz, Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems, noted that "this discovery in the Nocera lab demonstrates that moving up the transformation of our energy supply system to one based on renewables will depend heavily on frontier basic science."
The success of the Nocera lab shows the impact of a mixture of funding sources - governments, philanthropy, and industry. This project was funded by the National Science Foundation and by the Chesonis Family Foundation, which gave MIT $10 million this spring to launch the Solar Revolution Project, with a goal to make the large scale deployment of solar energy within 10 years.
I just saw a reference for the above article on one of the coffee shop boards. Having been away from SI for quite a while (house selling/moving overload), I did a thread search for, "MIT," and saw the headline for the article and it's URL were already posted.
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|To: Lynn who wrote (217)||10/3/2008 8:41:51 PM|
|October 3, 2008, 6:22 pm|
Congress sets stage for solar boom
After months of failed attempts in Congress to extend crucial renewable energy tax credits, the end game came with lightening speed Friday afternoon: The House of Representatives passed the green incentives attached to the financial bailout package approved by the Senate Wednesday night and President Bush promptly signed the legislation into law.
There were goodies for wind, geothermal and alternative fuels, but the big winner by far was the solar industry.
“It feels like we should be popping the champagne,” said a Silicon Valley solar exec Green Wombat met for lunch minutes after Bush put pen to paper.
That it took a the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression to save billions of dollars of renewable projects in the pipeline for the sake of political expediency does not bode well for a national alternative energy policy. But the bottom line is that the legislation passed Friday sets the stage for a potential solar boom.
The 30% solar investment tax credit has been extended to 2016, giving solar startups, utilities and financiers the certainty they need for the years’ long slog it takes to get large-scale power plants and other projects online. The extension is particularly important to those Big Solar projects that need to arrange project financing in the next year or so.
The $2,000 tax credit limit for residential solar systems has been lifted, meaning that homeowners can get a 30% tax credit on the solar panels they install. That will save a bundle - especially for those who live in states with generous state rebates - and goose demand for solar panels makers and installers like SunPower (SPWRA) and First Solar (FSLR). (If you buy a a $24,000 3-kilowatt solar array in California - big enough to power the average home - you can claim a $7,200 federal tax credit. Add in the state solar rebate and the cost of the system is cut in half.)
Utilities like PG&E (PCG), Southern California Edison (EIX) and FPL (FPL) can now themselves claim the 30% investment tax credit for large-scale solar power projects. That should encourage those well-capitalized utilities to build their own solar power plants rather than just sign power purchase agreements with startups like Ausra and BrightSource Energy.
“The brakes are off,” says Danny Kennedy, co-founder of Sungevity, a Berkeley, Calif., solar installer that uses imaging technology to remotely size and design solar arrays. “In just six months since our launch we’ve sold about a hundred systems. With an uncapped tax credit for homeowners going solar, we expect business to boom.”
While elated sound bytes from solar executives have been flooding the inbox all afternoon - along with invites to celebratory after-work drinks - solar stocks took a drubbing (along with the rest of the still-spooked market) after initially soaring on the news.
SunPower ended the trading day down 5% while First Solar shares dropped 8%. The bright spot was China’s Suntech (STP), which on Thursday announced a joint venture with financier MMA Renewable Ventures to build solar power plants as well as the acquisition of California-based solar panel installer EI Solutions.
Congress didn’t treat the wind energy so generously. The production tax credit for generating renewable energy was extended by just one year, guaranteeing the industry’s will continue to live year by year (at least through 2009). But given that 30% of all new power generation built in the United States in 2007 was wind, and that the amount of wind power installed by the end of 2008 is expected to rise 60% over the record set last year, the wind biz should do just fine.
But Congress did give a break to those who buy small-scale wind turbines. Systems under 100 kilowatts qualify for a 30% tax credit up to $4,000. Homeowners get a $1,000 tax credit for each kilowatt of wind they install.
“This is a huge break through for small wind,” says Scott Weinbrandt, president of Helix Wind, a San Diego-based manufacturer of 2-and-4-kilowatt turbines.
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|To: Eric who wrote (218)||10/4/2008 3:18:12 PM|
|Europe agrees bank crisis action |
Europe's biggest economies have agreed to work together to support financial institutions - but without forming a joint bail-out fund.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy hosted the meeting of the leaders of Britain, Germany and Italy in Paris.
They agreed to seek a relaxation of the EU rules governing the amount of money individual states can borrow.
Mr Sarkozy announced a series of allied measures - including unspecified action against the executives of failed banks.
He said the four had agreed that the leaders of a financial institution that had to be rescued should be "sanctioned".
Mr Sarkozy added: "Each government will operate with its own methods and means, but in a co-ordinated manner."
Each country must take its responsibilities at a national level
The leaders also issued a joint call for a G8 summit "as soon as possible" to review the rules governing financial markets.
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said governments would continue to take measures to ease the credit shortage.
"The message to families and to businesses is that, as our central banks are already doing, liquidity will be assured in order to preserve confidence and stability," he told reporters after the mini-summit.
He said European leaders should send the message that "no sound, solvent bank should be allowed to fail through lack of liquidity".
German Chancellor Angela Merkel - who said she was not happy with Ireland's action in guaranteeing bank deposits - said each country must act in "a balanced way" that did not cause harm to other EU member states.
"Each country must take its responsibilities at a national level," she said.
The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Dominique Strauss-Kahn, had earlier urged the EU to take co-ordinated action, saying the financial crisis was presenting Europe with a "trial by fire".
It has to be indicated to the markets... that European countries will not react as every man for himself
He held talks with Mr Sarkozy before the EU leaders' meeting and said that although the EU was a more complex organisation than the US, Europe needed to take "concerted collective action".
He said: "It has to be indicated to the markets... that European countries will not react as every man for himself."
He also said he would be scaling back his world economic growth forecasts.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet and the chairman of the eurozone group of finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker, also attended the meeting.
Mr Sarkozy suggested the EU's budget rules - requiring nations using the euro common currency to keep their budget deficits below 3% and overall public debt below 60% of gross domestic product - would be adapted to deal with financial crisis, reflecting the current "exceptional circumstances".
Mr Barroso said the rules would be applied with "flexibility".
Germany and UK sceptical
Ahead of the meeting, Germany had made clear its opposition to any co-ordinated European bail-out plan.
UK PM Gordon Brown was also sceptical of the need for any Europe-wide plan.
The president of the European Parliament has criticised the summit, warning that the leaders of Europe's four largest economies have no power to decide for the entire European Union.
Calls for European action follow the bail-out of both Bradford and Bingley in the UK and Fortis Bank by the governments of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
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|To: Eric who wrote (218)||10/5/2008 10:20:17 PM|
|Scientists develop solar cells with a twist By Julie Steenhuysen |
Sun Oct 5, 1:02 PM ET
CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. researchers have found a way to make efficient silicon-based solar cells that are flexible enough to be rolled around a pencil and transparent enough to be used to tint windows on buildings or cars.
The finding, reported on Sunday in the journal Nature Materials, offers a new way to process conventional silicon by slicing the brittle wafers into ultrathin bits and carefully transferring them onto a flexible surface.
"We can make it thin enough that we can put it on plastic to make a rollable system. You can make it gray in the form of a film that could be added to architectural glass," said John Rogers of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who led the research.
"It opens up spaces on the fronts of buildings as opportunities for solar energy," Rogers said in a telephone interview.
Solar cells, which convert solar energy into electricity, are in high demand because of higher oil prices and concerns over climate change.
Many companies, including Japanese consumer electronics maker Sharp Corp and Germany's Q-Cells are making thin-film solar cells, but they typically are less efficient at converting solar energy into electricity than conventional cells.
Rogers said his technology uses conventional single crystal silicon. "It's robust. It's highly efficient. But in its current form, it's rigid and fragile," he said.
Rogers' team uses a special etching method that slices chips off the surface of a bulk silicon wafer. The sliced chips are 10 to 100 times thinner than the wafer, and the size can be adapted to the application.
Once sliced, a device picks up the bits of silicon chips "like a rubber stamp" and transfers them to a new surface material, Rogers said.
"These silicon solar cells become like a solid ink pad for that rubber stamp. The surface of the wafers after we've done this slicing become almost like an inking pad," he said.
"We just print them down onto a target surface."
The final step is to electrically connect these cells to get power out of them, he said.
Adding flexibility to the material would make the cells far easier to transport. Rogers envisions the material being "rolled up like a carpet and thrown on the truck."
He said the technology has been licensed to a startup company called Semprius Inc in Durham, North Carolina, which is in talks to license the technology.
"It's just a way to use thing we already know well," Rogers said.
(Editing by Maggie Fox and Eric Walsh)
BTW, this is the first high speed Internet connection posting I have made in almost a year! I am in RI for a few days visiting friends after a yearly weekend gathering of the local amateur astronomy club. Getting back to dial-up when I get back to PA Wednesday is going to be more torture than usual.
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|To: Eric who wrote (221)||10/7/2008 3:58:14 PM|
|From: John Koligman|
|Goldman issued a piece trashing the solar stocks today...|
Solar: Goldman Turns Cautions; Fears Over Supply; Spreading Concerns On Impact Of Tight Credit
Posted by Eric Savitz
Solar stocks are trading sharply lower this morning after Goldman Sachs analyst Michael Molnar declared he has become cautious on the solar group, “as less generous subsidies combined with a wave of supply pose a real risk.”
Molnar asserts in a research note that the risk of oversupply in the solar market “will soon become a reality as considerably less generous demand subsidies take hold just as a wave of supply and tight financing hit the market.” He thinks that “liberal subsidies of the past in markets like Germany and Spain are unlikely to be replicated in the future givne fears of their ultimate cost in a bad world economy.”
As supply increases, he contends, prices will have to “adjust strongly downward to generate demand.” He thinks that trend will lead to below-consensus estimates for module manufacturers and compressed valuations for stocks in the sector.
Molnar today cut his rating on First Solar to a Conviction Sell from Buy, slashing his price target to $103 from $365. For SunPower (SPWRA) he goes to Sell from Buy, with a target of $43, down from $100. He also cuts his target on Evergreen Solar (ESLR) to $4.50 from $10.50.
He sharply reduced estimates for the solar stocks. For FSLR, he now sees $3.62 next year, and $5.92 in 2010, down from $3,75 and $7.13. For SPWRA, he sees $1.22 and $2.47, down from $1.27 and $2.63. For Energy Conversion Devices (ENER), he goes to $1.64 and $2.92, down from $1.72 and $2.87.
Meanwhile, Wedbush Morgan’s Al Kaschalk this morning cut his own target prices on the solar stocks this morning, asserting that “with negative macro economic conditions and concerns over availability of capital in the near term,” multiples are likely to remain compressed for now. He cut his target on FSLR to $225 from $350. For SPWRA, he goes to $100 from $125.
Piper Jaffray’s Jesse Pichel likewise cut his target prices and estimates on solar stocks today as well, asserting that checks with renewable energy project developers suggest “the cost of capital on renewable projects will likely increase despite potential Fed easing.” He says that “the problem is access to credit and not demand.” Pichel cut his target price on First Solar to $250, from $350, cutting his 2009 EPS estimate to $7.63 from $8.47.
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|To: John Koligman who wrote (222)||10/13/2008 9:20:28 PM|
|I think Goldman jumped the gun a little. If the tax credits had not passed I would have agreed with his comments. I just don't see silicon increasing enough to create a glut in the next few years. The planned increase in capacity is having real problems of Si ingots with virtually every new foundry.|
Of course my big question is how much the financial meltdown really affects the economy going forward. Most of solar stuff on the roofs of individual's homes is financed. Commercial stuff is done because of the paybacks over time, especially the for utilities and environmental factors.
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|To: John Koligman who wrote (222)||10/24/2008 3:56:28 PM|
|BUY OR SELL-Are solar stocks too cheap to pass up?|
Mon Oct 20, 2008 4:09pm
By Nichola Groom
LOS ANGELES, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Shares of solar power companies had already been battered when widespread turmoil in the financial markets prompted a bigger sell-off over the last few weeks.
Solar stocks were among the top performers last year as rising fossil fuel prices and mounting concerns over global warming pumped demand for alternative energy sources.
But this year, most solar stocks have lost about half their value on concerns that falling oil prices, a weakening global economy and pullback in government subsidies for solar projects in Germany and Spain will dampen demand for the clean technology.
So, are these stocks cheap enough to buy? There are two opinions.
CREDIT: THE HAVES AND HAVE-NOTS
Mark Bachman, solar analyst with Pacific Crest Securities in Portland, Oregon:
"One of the differentiating factors is trying to find those stocks that are not dependent upon the credit markets right now for additional financing. A name strictly comes to mind in First Solar Inc (FSLR.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz). Here is a company that is 100 percent self-funded ... And then if you want to look beyond that, take a look at a company called Solarworld AG (SWVG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) out of Germany that is integrated ... from (its biggest raw material) polysilicon all the way through end market distribution ... it doesn't have to rely on the capital markets as much, as well.
"Of the stocks I cover, I would have to be most concerned about Evergreen Solar Inc (ESLR.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) ... in order to meet their manufacturing targets for 2010 at least through 2012 they need to build additional factories. And the only way that they are going to do it is to go back and tap the capital markets.
"Akeena Solar Inc (AKNS.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), that's another company where they are going to have to figure out how to go back in and figure out how to do some funding next year.
"Q-Cells AG (QCEG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), out of Germany, does have a lot of debt that needs to be renegotiated this year. Rates are higher now, especially on the short term. Here is a company that could be looking at increased interest income."
COSTS ARE KING
Carey Callaghan, manager of the Lebanon, New Hampshire-based American Trust Energy Alternatives Fund:
"It's looking to us like it could be a difficult couple of years, and the financial picture doesn't help because it will hit people's pocketbooks and residential customers or government programs as well. But it could be explosive on the other side, and the way to get in would be with the low-cost producers.
"First Solar, which was north of $300, closed Friday at around $140. To us, that starts to look quite intriguing. It was too expensive for us previously, but at these levels it's now a significant holding of our fund. It's got by far the lowest cost position in the industry ... Margins could come down, but the stock is half of what it was.
"The other place to be is the highest efficiency, so SunPower Corp (SPWRA.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) is also one that we like. A more efficient cell and module translates into lower system cost. There are going to be people who are willing to take a lower return if they can expand the power by 50 percent or more. That's the other end of the spectrum.
"Some of the suppliers, like Meyer Burger Technology AG (MBTN.S: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), that market is going to really grow nicely over the next couple of years. I met with Meyer Burger last week, and they are seeing no slowdown in sales ... It has no debt, so that's one that looks to be very well-positioned."
(Reporting by Nichola Groom; editing by Susan Kelly)
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