Monday, November 06, 2006

Energy notes

Here is some very interesting info regarding uranium & solar power. If you're keeping up on the energy debates or investing in alternative energy, you'll want to check this out.

First off, Bloomberg reports that uranium is the hot investment theme at a growing number of hedge funds. This will come as no surprise to anyone who's followed the uranium market over the past few years. We've seen a growing interest in the element as nuclear power stages a comeback, and new investment vehicles such as Uranium Participation Corp have given investors a way to play the metal's rise.

Paul van Eeden, an early investor in the recent uranium boom, is skeptical regarding continued upside potential for the uranium price. As he explains in an August 16 ROBTV appearance, hedge funds and investment funds have driven the spot price through the roof and this has nothing to do with the fundamentals.

By Paul's reckoning, the amount of raw material yellowcake (U308) that nuclear plants need to run their plants can be reduced through the enrichment process. Therefore, we don't have a uranium deficit hovering over us - we now have a surplus. I have seen arguments with Paul's reasoning, but you'll have to try and do the research to come up with your own conclusions.

Also, some very exciting news regarding solar power. Travis Bradford, author of the new book, Solar Revolution, says the US could surpass Germany and Japan as the biggest installer of solar energy. echoes this sentiment with an article from Business 2.0 magazine, which highlights the way Silicon Valley is reshaping the solar power industry. Considering some of the things I've seen in Business 2.0 magazine, I had to read this article with a grain of salt, but it turned out to be a really solid & interesting piece.

Ever since hearing about the success of Cypress Semiconductor's solar unit, I had been wondering if the efficiency of solar panels and equipment could be improved through the engineering and manufacturing know-how of the microchip industry. Here's what I read:

Other old-line Valley tech companies are also jumping into the market. Among the most significant is Applied Materials (Charts). The world's largest chip-equipment maker will begin producing machines to manufacture solar wafers, laying the groundwork for an industrial infrastructure that should lower the cost of producing solar cells. For the first time in many years, high-tech manufacturing plants - yes, factories - are being built in Silicon Valley.

Be sure to check out this article, there are just a lot of interesting elements to this story. As one solar entrepreneur puts it, "Silicon Valley, is moving from a place that uses silicon to make something that consumes energy to one that uses silicon to produce energy."