Energy Scout, Issue 4 - Jan.11 2013

A biweekly newsletter informing professionals and laymen on the near-future of energy, especially the rise of distributed clean/smart energy.

General Energy

Clean Energy

  • One of the most important ongoing stories in clean energy is Germany's aggressive national energy transition, the Energiewende program, moving one of the most advanced, industrialized countries in the world away from fossil and nuclear power. In sum, they're mostly succeeding - and the analysis by Paul Gipe has good data and surprises, while a summary in English points out it's conventional fuel costs driving recent price hikes (more than renewables).


The two big (USA-centric) stories in clean energy finance are:

  1. Solar Mosaic has launched its crowdfunding site, enabling residents of CA and NY to collectively invest in local solar power projects directly, bypassing the usual banks. Participants can earn low-risk, 4-5% annual returns for nine years - uncorrelated from the typical assets of equities or bonds. Other examples of innovative financing approaches for clean energy are also underway.
  2. SolarCity (Nasdaq: SCTY), a US solar installer (not a panel-maker), has gone public; the first day of trading saw a 50% gain. The significance here is that this is the first IPO of a solar service (not hardware) firm; there are several other national-level solar installer and leasing firms (SunRun, Sungevity) with similar business models that have yet to go public, so plenty of observers keen to see how SCTY moves over the coming year. Note that SolarCity is under investigation by the US Treasury over possible fraud - as always, do your own homework before investing.

Smart Grid (SG)

  • Top 10 stories of 2012 from Smart Grid news; smart meters, and some backlash thereof, figure prominently.
  • Looking ahead, here are interesting policy innovations that SG technologies could (mostly) help with: peer-to-peer energy transactions, distribution grid (the local power infrastructure with wires to your house) load controllers, better water management, and new investment structures.

Regional Notes


  • With a stopgap solution to the much ballyhooed fiscal cliff, the US wind power industry got the production tax credit extended. We can expect US wind power capacity to keep growing strongly in 2013.
  • As anyone living there knows, the US is highly polarized politically, and energy is one area of dispute, with much money at stake. A recent study has found heavy media manipulation by fossil fuel industries of the public energy debate; CleanTechnica provides a summary.




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