First a little disclosure. I am personally invested in a handful of solar technology stocks, some American and some Chinese so what I say comes from both a self interested capitalist point of view and an environmentalist point of view.
The house recently passed an intriguing energy bill. And the bill currently remains tied up in the Senate and president Bush has threatened to veto it. All strong indicators that actual progress is being made on the energy front. Two intriguing aspects of the bill are the increased fuel standards supported by everybody but Detroit, and the equally feel good measure of repealing 13 billion dollars of Big oil tax credits to fund the fledgling alternative energy industry. Both very positive developments. I am big on the potential for solar tech and am a firm believer that where there is political will there is a way. This country has opted to spend trillions on Nuclear and other industries in the past. We spend even a 10th of that on alternative energy we are likely to see a vibrant, sustainable and prosperous future. Shifting the priorities away from oil is the way to do that. No energy bill is perfect, this bill has provisions for coal and ethanol which can be problematic but I am willing to see a little compromise for the larger picture.
In 2005 the white house heralded an energy bill and the benefits of alternative energy. Including the following provision:
Extends the existing tax credit for production of electricity from renewable resources, such as wind, biomass, and landfill gas, and creates for the first time a tax credit for residential solar energy systems
Well now is the time for action. The current bill does exactly this by moving some of the credits away from the oil and gas sectors. I figure at nearly $100 a barrel the oil sector can take care of itself. If president Bush cares even one iota about his legacy and would like to prove that he is more action than empty talking points then he will not veto this energy bill. If he wants to prove that he is a rapacious pawn of the oil industry he will veto this bill. Conventional wisdom says that the energy bill will be vetoed. But I am holding out hope that Bush will surprise us all. Perhaps he won’t but if he can make good on this and not oppose progress this one time I will be willing to give a little more benefit of the doubt to him. But he needs to prove himself here and stand with the american people not his oil cronies.
As an aside a lot a talk is being made about how we compete with China economically. One of the big under reported stories is how China has been embracing green tech and specifically solar in a big way. Even a bit of activism is hitting the streets in the form of a “Green Long March”. Many of the chinese based solar tech stocks are up in a big way. In my opinion there is money to be made out there by reinvesting in the green future. Transition the economy for both profit and environmentally sound reasons. That is my motto. But America needs to get in gear or we will find ourselves behind in the race. We should be exporting green tech to China and capitalizing on the potential, not letting ourselves atrophy under gluttonous addiction to oil. And we start by shifting our energy policies at home.
And finally a few solar technology stocks of interest
Evergreen Solar (ESLR). A Massachusetts based solar company that has been expanding rapidly.
Ascent Solar Technology (ASTI), another small cap solar company based in Colorado. What is it about Colorado? They seem to “get it” there. Colorado is also the home of energy visionary Amory Lovins.
And then there is the high flyer, First Solar (FSLR), a Phoenix Arizona based company with some manufacturing in Ohio. This particular stock is up over 800% for the year.
This is the face of the future. We can grow our way out of the difficulties we face, and make a little money along the way. It just takes thinking ahead a little. And this new energy bill does just that.