Clean Energy: The Materials Play


". . .one of the most interesting. . .developments associated with clean energy has been the increased use of less common materials."

There has been much discussion recently both of the "green" items on the agenda at the G20 summit in London, and the place of clean energy projects in the current U.S. administration's economic stimulus package.

In addition to a budget that calls for some $15 billion each year for renewable energy programs, this package includes tax breaks and grants of $56 billion over the next 10 years for clean energy projects.

When the government gets around to organizing how these funds are actually going to be disbursed, the financial benefits available for those companies operating in the "space" could be quite significant.

Renewable energy today comes from a variety of sources, including:
  • Biomass: Organic matter in plants and trees.
  • Geothermal: Energy derived from the earth's resources of internal heat - hot water, steam or hot rocks.
  • Hydrogen: Most commonly associated with fuel cells.
  • Hydropower: Kinetic energy from flowing water generates electricity.
  • Ocean: Tidal and wave power.
  • Solar: Power derived from harnessing the sun's radiant energy.
  • Wind: Turbines that convert the wind's kinetic energy to electricity.
While many of these technologies will undoubtedly rely on commonly available materials, one of the most interesting (and exciting) developments associated with clean energy has been the increased use of less common materials.

Going back to basics may offer some interesting investment opportunities in the clean energy space. Rather than looking at individual technologies (and taking a view on any one or other), it may be as constructive to look across them to determine what material demands, if any, they have in common. There will be significant opportunities to be had in offering the right materials.

However they may be used, an investment in the materials used to make, ultimately, clean energy may be both a more prudent and, perhaps, more profitable option than investing in either the technologies to create clean energy or the generation of clean energy itself.

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