Friday, May 23, 2008

Alternative energy execs dream of oil crunch

From Reuters:

While most companies are watching soaring oil prices with an eye on rising costs some renewable energy executives are licking their lips at the prospect of "spectacular" growth.

Oil sped above $135 to a new record for a third straight day on Thursday. That and new forecasts of a higher floor price has some alternative energy suppliers dreaming of an era of peak oil when global crude output starts to fall.

"Our time is very definitely coming," said Jeremy Leggett, chairman of solar power company Solar Century and former environmental campaigner. "The world is going to be beating a path to our doors ... The oil crunch is coming soon. The drivers are going to be spectacular."

Thursday's record oil price knocked world stocks to a one-month low as concerns grew that rising raw material costs would hit companies and consumers in an economic slowdown.

In their latest rally since May 1 oil prices have risen 20 percent. In that time the MSCI index of the world's biggest stocks is up 1.5 percent, while a ABN AMRO index of renewable energy stocks has climbed 9.5 percent.

But support for renewables has been jittery after months of hype helped fuel valuations at a time of tight credit.

In particular, solar power stocks dived as much as 50 percent in January as investors feared that a credit crunch would make "big ticket" solar panels unaffordable and that over-capacity in the sector could swamp demand.

"There's obviously been underlying concern in the renewable energy markets that valuations are inflated, (asking) are we in the middle of a green technology bubble," said Merrill's head of carbon emissions trading Abyd Karmali. Continued...