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Surviving the Watt-Com Boom

By Jim Bruckbauer

It seems as though we are in the middle of a strange time in the renewable energy industries. Some are referring to it as the Watt-Com Boom. Similar to the Dot-Com boom, there has been a large amount of investment into many companies in a particular sector. Although, this time the investment went into renewable energy, and again, we are seeing the astronomical growth in investment come to a screeching halt due to lack of financing for the actual renewable energy projects. Many companies who were predicting growth in 2007-2008 are now experiencing a time of downscaling, much like other industries.

Survival of the fittest will once again come into play as the government makes the $150 billion dollar investment in renewable energy a reality. As residents, as well as companies, take advantage of the large federal incentives to invest in renewable power, the demand for the products will once again increase. Like the dot-com boom, unfortunately some companies will not survive long enough to benefit from the stimulus dollars. The companies that do, however, will see large investment leading to large expansions.

A few companies that should be on the radar and that are likely to remain active during this time are highlighted below.

First Solar, Inc. : This Tempe, Arizona company has been on our “watch” list for some time. They have been able to produce electricity at the lowest cost-per-watt in the solar industry, by using cadmium telluride in its solar panels instead of silicon. We’re likely so see a large amount of activity from this company as it takes over much of the market share in the solar industry.

Ormat Technologies : Ormat is based in Reno, Nevada, and has capability of turning hot water and steam from the earth into electricity. It uses its own technology to sell power from the plants that it builds and owns. It still expects to sign about 120 large contracts this year, putting this on our “watch” list for 2009.

Itron, Inc. : Look for Itron to continually grow as a company through the stimulus activities. Itron is headquartered in Liberty Lake, Washington and creates data collection products for resource use. It creates meters and software products that assist utilities to monitor how gas, water, and electricity are being used. This company has partnered with Google to record and display what products in your home are using energy and how much they are using. With this technology, expect continual growth in the next few years.

Those are just a few publicly traded companies that are likely to continue to grow as demand increases in the next few years. We are focusing on finding private companies that are experiencing similar business activity that may be expanding soon. Give us a call for more information on some of the data that we’ve been collecting on the renewable energy industries.

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