|Ken Novak's Weblog
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Sunday, March 09, 2003
IHT: Alternative energy: If not now, when?: Review of markets and companies attracting investors. "..on average, it has cost about 2.5 cents a kilowatt hour to generate power from coal or gas for the last 30 years. Wind power, in contrast, now costs just under 4 cents a kilowatt hour, down from 10 cents in 1980. It cost a dollar to produce one kilowatt hour of solar power in 1980; now it costs 20 to 25 cents. The tipping point for alternative technologies depends on geography. The average retail price of power from conventional sources is 8 cents a kilowatt hour in the United States .. [while] the average retail cost of electricity in 1999 in Germany was 15.2 cents a kilowatt hour, in Japan it was 21.2 cents, in Britain it was 11.7 cents, in Denmark it was 20.7 cents and in France in 1998 it was 12.9 cents. Not surprisingly, countries with high energy costs have been more eager to adopt alternative technologies.
"China will have an enormous demand for power over the next 10 years, in terms of demographics and population growth," Pfeuti said. The fastest-growing market for wind last year, he said, was Germany, where 3,300 megawatts of new wind power went online. In contrast, he said, China could have demand for 250,000 megawatts of wind power. .. while demand for traditional fossil fuels has grown less than 2 percent a year over the last decade, sales of wind turbines have grown more than 30 percent annually and sales of photovoltaic modules have grown 15 percent annually.
Comments on companies:
- .. Pfeuti said two of the world's largest wind turbine manufacturers, Vestas Wind Systems A/S and NEG Micon A/S, both in Denmark, were trading below fair value.
- He said he would buy REpower Systems AG, a German manufacturer of wind turbines, and Evergreen Solar Inc., a U.S. manufacturer of solar power products, at current valuations. He also likes Echelon Corp., an American company that makes metering equipment to maximize energy efficiency.
- Maxwell Technologies Inc. recently formed an alliance with Yeong-Long Technologies Co. to manufacture and market Maxwell's proprietary ultracapacitor products in China.
- ..Becker also owns AstroPower Inc., a U.S. company with a market cap of $140 million that makes solar cells, modules and systems. Becker expects earnings per share to grow 20 percent to 25 percent over the next five years.
- ..He invests in FuelCell Energy Inc., a U.S. company that specializes in stationary fuel cells. ..Becker likes Hydrogenics Corp., a fuel cell manufacturer that also produces fuel cell testing equipment.
War and Its Consequences: A review of recent books and papers by Thomas Powers: "In the course of her research Priest learned two things—that the CinCs are figures of extraordinary power throughout the territory they command, far more influential than American ambassadors; and that "the mission" of the US military has expanded enormously in the last decade or two. "The US government had grown increasingly dependent on its military to carry out its foreign affairs," Priest writes:
The shift was incremental, little noticed, de facto.... The military simply filled a vacuum left by an indecisive White House, an atrophied State Department, and a distracted Congress.
When Priest began her travels the ballooning of the mission was simply an interesting fact; if the United States wanted to attempt something abroad —distribute food in Somalia, stop ethnic killing in Kosovo, put drug dealers out of business in Colombia—it asked the military to take on the job. After September 11 this American dependence on its military immediately began to drive the Bush administration's response to the challenge posed by Islamic terror..
One impression emerges clearly from Priest's account of the instrument under [CinC] Zinni's control: the military is the only generously funded institution in American public life. Over recent decades just about every other form of discretionary public spending has been allowed to lag.. Only the military [gets what it wants]...
The biggest intelligence bonanzas come at the end of wars, when the very people who compiled the files hand over the keys and explain where everything is. Police states are notorious for the obsessive keeping of files, and dictators with dreams of world power want to know everything about everybody. Saddam Hussein's secret police have been collecting information on political movements, terrorist groups, arms dealers, rich bankers and businessmen, and rival leaders since he came to power in 1968. This trove of secret information about the dark underside of Arab and Islamic politics will not be an incidental benefit of an American military occupation lasting two years or more, but will be one of the first targets of occupation forces. ..
George Tenet, said, "We see disturbing signs that Al Qaeda has established a presence in both Iran and Iraq.... Iran remains a serious concern because of its across-the-board pursuit of WMD and Missile capabilities," because Iran is developing ballistic missiles which might reach the US mainland by 2015, and because of "Iran's support for terrorism"—all charges of the kind made against Iraq as justification for war. Argument over these contentious issues will soon take place while American and Iranian armies face each other across hundreds of miles of border in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The American plan to stay for at least two years would bring us up to March 2005, a few months after the next presidential election. We might expect the inevitable tensions over American demands to be rising toward crisis just about then.
.. a war to overthrow Saddam Hussein won't by itself provide a "decision outcome" in the present case, because there are two rogue states with programs to build nuclear weapons in the Middle East. The theory says that both have to go, and if President Bush can be taken at his word, he thinks the same thing. To me the implication seems clear: Iraq first, Iran next. 11:44:59 PM