Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.Bitcoin War Begins – Bitcoin Cash Rises 50% While Bitcoin Drops $1,000 In 24 Hours - Jeff_Berwick
2.Fragile Stock Market Bull in a China Shop -James_Quinn
3.Sheffield Leafy Suburbs Tree Felling's Triggering House Prices CRASH! - Nadeem_Walayat
4.Bank of England Hikes UK Interest Rates 100%, Reversing BREXIT PANIC Cut! - Nadeem_Walayat
5.Government Finances and Gold - Cautionary Tale told in Four Charts - Michael_J_Kosares
6.Gold Stocks Winter Rally - Zeal_LLC
7.The Stock Market- From Here to Infinity? - Plunger
8.Ethereum (ETH/USD) – bullish breakout of large symmetrical triangle looks to be getting closer - MarketsToday
9.Electronic Gold: The Deep State’s Corrupt Threat to Human Prosperity and Freedom - Stewart_Dougherty
10.Finally, The Fall Of The House Of Saud - Jim_Willie_CB
Last 7 days
Gold Sector is On a Long-term Buy Signal - 21st Nov 17
Saudi Arabia and Israeli Alliance Targets Iran - 21st Nov 17
What History Says for Gold Stocks in 2018-2019 - 21st Nov 17
US Bond Market Operation Twist by Another Name and Method? - 21st Nov 17
Learning from Money Supply of the 1980s: The Power and Irony of “MDuh” - 20th Nov 17
Trump’s Asia Strategy, Goals and Realities - 20th Nov 17
Crude Oil – General Market Link - 20th Nov 17
Bitcoin Price Blasts Through $8,000… In Zimbabwe Tops $13,500 As Mugabe Regime Crumbles - 20th Nov 17
Stock Market More Correction Ahead? - 19th Nov 17
Universal Credits Christmas Scrooge Nightmare for Weekly Pay Recipients - 18th Nov 17
Perspective on the Gold/Oil Ratio, Macro Fundamentals and a Gold Sector Bottom - 18th Nov 17
Facebook Traders: Tech Giant + Technical Analysis = Thumbs Up - 18th Nov 17
Games Betting System For NCAA Basketball Sports Betting - Know Your Betting Limits - 18th Nov 17
Universal Credit Doomsday for Tax Credits Cash ISA Savers, Here's What to Do - 18th Nov 17
Gold Mining Stocks Fundamentals Q3 2017 - 17th Nov 17
The Social Security Inflation Lag Calendar - Partial Indexing - 17th Nov 17
Mystery of Inflation and Gold - 17th Nov 17
Stock Market Ready To Pull The Rug Out From Under You! - 17th Nov 17
Crude Oil – Gold Link in November 2017 - 17th Nov 17
Play Free Online Games and Save Money Free Virtual Online Games - 17th Nov 17
Stock Market Crash Omens & Predictions: Another Day Another Lie - 16th Nov 17
Deepening Crisis In Hyper-inflationary Venezuela and Zimbabwe - 16th Nov 17
Announcing Free Trader's Workshop: Battle-Tested Tools to Boost Your Trading Confidence - 16th Nov 17
Instructions to Stop a Dispossession Home Sale and How to Purchase Astutely at Abandonment Home - 16th Nov 17
Trump’s Asia Tour: From Old Conflicts to New Prospects - 16th Nov 17
Bonds And Stocks Will Crash Together In The Next Crisis (Meanwhile, Bond Yields Are Going Up) - 16th Nov 17
A Generational Reset That Will Redistribute Wealth to the Bottom 60% Is Near - 16th Nov 17
Ethereum (ETH/USD) – bullish breakout of large symmetrical triangle looks to be getting closer - 16th Nov 17
Gold’s Long-term Analogies - 16th Nov 17
Does Stripping Streets of ALL of their Trees Impact House Prices (Sheffield Example)? - 15th Nov 17
The Trump Administration’s IP Battle Against China - 15th Nov 17
5 Ways Bitcoin can Improve its Odds of Becoming the Future of Money - 15th Nov 17
These Headlines Say Gold is Building a Base for Something Big - 15th Nov 17

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Traders Workshop

Why Oil Stocks May Be The Best Way To Profit From The Renewable Energy Revolution

Companies / Oil Companies Nov 07, 2017 - 06:36 PM GMT

By: John_Mauldin

Companies

BY PATRICK WATSON : When Europe’s central banks pushed rates below zero, large depositors found themselves paying interest instead of receiving it.

But at the same time, some lucky homeowners found their mortgage payments turn into credits.

The weirdness continues.

Bloomberg recently reported that German power producers would likely be paying customers to use electricity on one weekend. 


How does this possibly make sense?

The answer is in the wind.

Blown-Away Prices

Normally, utility companies calculate how much a kilowatt-hour of electricity will cost to produce and so how much to charge the customers.

That’s pretty easy to do with fossil fuels, but wind production—which Germany depends on heavily—can be volatile due to weather conditions. That means utilities must install extra renewable power capacity to meet demand in suboptimal conditions.

The more power is generated, the cheaper it becomes. So in the occasional great conditions, the ratio goes negative. Put simply, there’s so much power generated that instead of making a profit, the utility basically has to pay the customers.

Much of the developing world (plus Puerto Rico) has the opposite problem: expensive electricity, and often not enough of it. But that’s changing as renewable energy costs drop.

Unlike fossil fuels, we can tap solar and wind energy without reducing their supply. That means their cost curve looks more like a new technology than a dwindling commodity.

You’ve heard of Moore’s Law, which says microchip performance doubles every two years. Something similar is happening with renewable energy. Production costs drop as we produce more.

Two months ago, the US Department of Energy projected the unsubsidized cost of wind energy could drop 50% from current levels by 2030.

That’s not dreamy environmentalist sentiment either.

Remember who runs the DOE now: former Texas Governor Rick Perry. He’s one of the oil industry’s best friends—but he saw Texas harvesting wind energy and knows how much it helped our grid.

The Revolution Is Here

Just north of Austin, where I live, is Georgetown, population about 65,000. I drive through there when I go to Dallas. It’s a picturesque town with an old courthouse square.

Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross is a Trump-supporting, staunch Republican. He decided in 2015 that Georgetown should get all its electricity from renewable sources.

Ross, who is also a CPA, says the choice was clear when he ran the numbers. He told The Guardian last month:

“The revolution is here,” he said. “And I’m a good little Republican, a right-wing fiscal conservative, but when it comes to making decisions based on facts, that’s what we do.”

Prices in the city, Ross said, have declined from 11.4¢ per kilowatt hour in 2008 to 8.5¢ this year. Georgetown sources most of its power from a wind farm 500 miles away in Amarillo and will get solar energy from a farm in west Texas that is expected to be finished next June, meaning the city can attain its 100% renewable goal even when the wind isn’t blowing. This year, Ross said, the tally is about 90%, down from 100% in 2016.

“How is anybody going to compete with wind and solar?” said Ross, who has ordered an electric-powered BMW scooter from California and plans to fit solar panels at his home and office.

This matches what I’ve thought for a long time. Renewable sources will eventually supply most of the world’s energy, not because governments subsidize them or mandate them, but because they cost less than fossil fuels.

That’s not to say the oil, gas, and coal industries will disappear soon. They’ll survive for many years… but they will also shrink.

Deny, Delay, or Adapt

Remember Kodak? Unable to imagine a world without film, management didn’t adapt to digital photography fast enough. The company went bankrupt in 2012.

Fossil fuel producers face a similar dilemma. The world is changing around them. Their choices are to deny, delay, or adapt.

The giant oil and gas companies all have renewable energy initiatives and subsidiaries. From what I see, they are mostly half-hearted. I suspect the boards view those segments as a public-relations necessity.

Some companies are more serious, though. Top management makes renewable-energy production a high priority. C-level execs take personal interest in it and approve big capital investments.

I think the second group has a much brighter future. In fact, it may be even brighter than that of some newer companies that specialize in solar and wind energy.

A successful business is more than a good idea and a bank account. It’s a culture, a vast set of knowledge and relationships. Building a truly sustainable organization takes time and can’t be duplicated easily.

Energy production, whether fossil fuel or renewable, is about solving large-scale, capital-intensive engineering problems—like the major oil companies have been doing for decades.

As an investor in renewable energy, I would pick an oil company that’s aggressively moving into wind and solar over a VC-backed Silicon Valley clean-energy startup any day of the week.

Europe Goes First

I came to this conclusion while looking for dividend-producing stocks for my subscribers. I try to find companies with both high current income and a secure long-term future.

In evaluating energy stocks, I noticed a pattern in their attitudes to solar and wind projects. European energy companies seem to be much more serious than the major US producers.

That means if you only own US energy stocks, or US-focused energy ETFs, your portfolio may be missing an important component.

So far, I’ve found two large-cap European energy majors that are doing well on the fossil fuel side and working hard to ramp up renewable energy revenue. Both have dividend yields in the 4–5% range.

Accelerating Change

You might ask why the hurry. Oil and gas companies are making good money—so plenty of time to pivot later.

For the answer, look at your iPhone, or Samsung Galaxy, or whatever mobile device you carry.

Think about how much these smartphones changed the world. Business, family life, romance, entertainment, education, travel—it’s all radically different now. Not always for the better, but there’s no denying the change.

All that change happened in the last 10 years. All of it.

Many folks laughed when Apple launched the first iPhone in 2007. “Who needs one of those? My Nokia flip phone is fine.”

Few of those people have flip phones anymore. That’s how much the world can evolve in a single decade. And the pace of change has, if anything, accelerated since then.

The energy business may not change exactly the way I imagine, but I’m very sure it will change. Your investments need to change with it.

Free Report: The New Asset Class Helping Investors Earn 7% Yields in a 2.5% World

While the Fed may be raising interest rates, the reality is we still live in a low-yield world. This report will show you how to start earning market-beating yields in as little as 30 days... and simultaneously reduce your portfolio’s risk exposure.

Claim your free copy here.

John Mauldin Archive

© 2005-2017 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Catching a Falling Financial Knife