General Forum

General Forum

  1. Joined
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    30 May '14 22:21
    Coal has been the heavyweight in the generation of electrical power for some time. But it seems we are in the midst of diversification to a variety of sources, including solar.

    From the viewpoint of an investor, what would you do to profit from utilities? For instance, maybe you know of a mutual fund with management astute enough to take advantage of the changes to come?

    Or is claiming that traditional plays in utilities such as Duke Energy [to be USA-centric] are tapped out just Chicken Little crying that the sky is falling?
  2. Joined
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    30 May '14 22:30
    I think any home owner under the age of 60 is insane if they don't invest in some decent solar panels.
  3. SubscriberSuzianne
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    01 Jun '14 00:20
    Originally posted by Trev33
    I think any home owner under the age of 60 is insane if they don't invest in some decent solar panels.
    Clearly, being a non-American, you are unfamiliar how some corporations take a great idea and then ruin it by extracting the most money they can from it, making it completely unviable for the average consumer.
  4. rebel city
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    01 Jun '14 00:28
    Originally posted by Suzianne
    Clearly, being a non-American, you are unfamiliar how some corporations take a great idea and then ruin it by extracting the most money they can from it, making it completely unviable for the average consumer.
    Solar panels are expensive here in Europe also. Governments are yet to provide means to make it accessible to the population. Otherwise, with no means, it requires sacrifice, which I personally find worth it and it is in my priority list to have it done as soon as I buy a house, soon.
  5. Joined
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    01 Jun '14 00:472 edits
    Originally posted by Trev33
    I think any home owner under the age of 60 is insane if they don't invest in some decent solar panels.
    I have looked into it more than once, in part as a project for my homeowner's association. There are tools on the internet for estimating the cost/benefit of an installation (including sell-back of excess electrons) and my situation (latitude, weather patterns, and square footage limits of my property) fails any rational financial test, miserably. I talked with an installer, and they said no local company bothers with small jobs (meaning typical homes) -- they are all going for large scale installations (schools, etc.), big sprawling businesses in industrial parks, and mega-homes). They have a minimum project size that is ten times mine would be.

    My ecological contribution is not having a big sprawling energy-sucking home, which I could have in, say, rural West Virginia.
  6. Standard memberlemon lime
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    01 Jun '14 00:48
    Originally posted by Paul Dirac II
    Coal has been the heavyweight in the generation of electrical power for some time. But it seems we are in the midst of diversification to a variety of sources, including solar.

    From the viewpoint of an investor, what would you do to profit from utilities? For instance, maybe you know of a mutual fund with management astute enough to take advantage o ...[text shortened]... ke Energy [to be USA-centric] are tapped out just Chicken Little crying that the sky is falling?
    It depends. How concerned would an investor have to be about getting a return on his investment? Taking advantage of "the changes to come" is a bit dicey unless someone is absolutely sure those changes will come during his lifetime. I do believe some changes will come, but I'm not so sure about when they will come or what those changes might be. It could be that solar and wind won't be the most user friendly source of energy that comes down the pike, it could end up being something entirely different.

    Most of the energy debate at its core is politically driven and fueled by special interests who want oil and coal out of the picture as quickly as possible. This alone I think would cause most investors to approach the sort of investment you are talking about with great caution. So far it's been easier to simply use tax money to fund solar and wind projects, and not bother trying to convince private investors into throwing all of their own money into them. If a project is mostly funded by taxes, then perhaps some investors could be persuaded into tossing a few of their own coins into the pot... who knows?
  7. Standard memberlemon lime
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    02 Jun '14 19:141 edit
    I don't mind being a thread killer, but I don't want to be the ax murderer of this one. There is often a fine line between debate and discussion so I'll try to keep this as simple as possible.


    My point is simply this, the same pitch used to influence public opinion is not likely to work when talking to private investors.

    And even investors who are sympathetic with environmental concerns necessarily must be wary and evaluate the risk. This doesn't mean a private investor can't be influenced or convinced to take a risk, but let's face it... it's their money being sought for taking that risk. It's different when tax money (money already collected) is the source of revenue. To gain access to this money all anyone has to do is to come up with a visionary and grand idea for doing it, as well as instilling a Chicken Little complex into the mix, and then selling the idea to the public at large. A little "here's the good it will do" here and "look at what could happen if we don't" there. Private investors on the other hand would likely scoff at such an obvious attempt at pushing their buttons.
  8. SubscriberPonderable
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    03 Jun '14 09:30
    Originally posted by Trev33
    I think any home owner under the age of 60 is insane if they don't invest in some decent solar panels.
    There are several points to consider:

    * The ROI is not only to be counted fionancially but also ecologically. To invest more eneryg into making a solar panel and installing it than to reap from the sunshine is not sustainable.

    * making your warm water using solar energy and not by firing your furnace or usean electrical boiler will probably enhance energy efficiency more than solar-elecrtic panels.

    * There is the matter of durability. How long needs a solar panel to refinance itself (financially and ecologically)? How much maintenance? (You probably lnow that dusting is a sever probelm). How long will the panel work beyond the amortization?

    * If, like in Germany, you can sell your elecrtical energy more expensive than the electrical energy you buy it is in my opionon a wrong incentive. All solar panel owners should first use their own electrical energy and be allowed only to sell the exces.

    * In Germany during the second oil shock (early eighties) the governemnet gave out stickers saying: "Saving energy is our biggest energy source". This is (especially in the US) still true. Going by Bike instead of driving (especially a gas-guzzler) will do much more for your personal energy balance than installing a solar panel. Skiping flights, turning down air condition,... In the latter case i am always surprised that I know people who can't stand a roo temperature of 18°C in winter but turn their Ac to 15°C in summer....
  9. Standard memberMammy Blue
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    03 Jun '14 16:30
    Originally posted by Suzianne
    Clearly, being a non-American, you are unfamiliar how some corporations take a great idea and then ruin it by extracting the most money they can from it, making it completely unviable for the average consumer.
    What do you think of a government that puts an extra levy on the price of all newly sold energy saving lights, as opposed to the old filament bulbs and lights?
  10. SubscriberPonderable
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    04 Jun '14 11:17
    Originally posted by Mammy Blue
    What do you think of a government that puts an extra levy on the price of all newly sold energy saving lights, as opposed to the old filament bulbs and lights?
    If you outlaw filament bulbs at the same time (like in Europe) a clever move to fill the coffers
  11. SubscriberPonderable
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    04 Jun '14 11:19
    What I missed on my earlierrant:

    Better invest in combined heat and electricity generation. Use all of the energy and exergy available!

    Fuel cells seem to me a promising route.
  12. SubscriberPonderable
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    08 Jun '14 13:24
    Originally posted by lemon lime
    I don't mind being a thread killer, but I don't want to be the ax murderer of this one. There is often a fine line between debate and discussion so I'll try to keep this as simple as possible.


    My point is simply this, the same pitch used to influence public opinion is not likely to work when talking to private investors.

    And even investors ...[text shortened]... estors on the other hand would likely scoff at such an obvious attempt at pushing their buttons.
    You are right:

    * Any investor will look for some profit for their investment. And power is just very cheap these days as opposed to some schemes proposed. Especially solar power is quite expensive.

    * The state has some power to steer investment by tax breaks and things like that. But in the long run it is not worthwhile for a society to give axpayers money to investors...
  13. Standard memberlemon lime
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    08 Jun '14 14:332 edits
    Originally posted by Ponderable
    You are right:

    * Any investor will look for some profit for their investment. And power is just very cheap these days as opposed to some schemes proposed. Especially solar power is quite expensive.

    * The state has some power to steer investment by tax breaks and things like that. But in the long run it is not worthwhile for a society to give axpayers money to investors...
    I wasn't suggesting giving taxpayer money to investors, but I'm not really sure if that's what you meant to say. I was simply daydreaming of some way to woo private investors into participating in these ventures in some small way. I was mostly talking tongue in cheek, and poking a bit of fun at people who forget it's their money being invested in risky and previously untried ventures... and by risky I mean likely to fail if left on their own to sustain themselves through market forces alone... a bit like supporting a lazy relative who doesn't seem able to support himself.

    There's a reality show called The Shark Tank I've started watching bits and pieces of. Sometimes when I'm channel surfing I'll land on that show and watch it for a while. I didn't think I'd like it, but it's already starting to grow on me and capture my interest. It's made up of a panel of private investors who listen to pitches from people who've come up with a new idea or product. The fun begins when the "Sharks" evaluate the product being pitched, either expressing interest in it or pointing out problems with trying to market it. And if they think it has potential they'll negotiate with the inventor and compete among themselves for how much their willing to invest and how much market share will be in it for them and blah blah blah blah... the nuts and bolts of negotiation will start putting me to sleep before too long.

    The reason I like this show is because it has nothing to do with taxpayer money or government involvement in getting a consumer to accept some new product. It's all about supply and demand and normal free market forces. 100% all natural organic free range market forces... no artificial colors or flavoring. And no artificial infusion of money from people who don't have much power or say over how their money is used... aka the taxpayer.

    Edit: "... in the long run it is not worthwhile for a society to give [t]axpayers money to investors..."

    Oops, I think I misread that. I don't believe you were talking about giving taxpayer money to private investors (to invest), I believe you meant using tax payer money for the investment itself.
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