The Hawaiian Ribeye was absolutely delicious.
After registering for the Clean Technology 2008 conference in Boston early yesterday afternoon, I headed to a nearby restaurant to have dinner with some friends who happened to be in the area.
But despite the high-end service and even better food at what can only be described as a contemporary bistro called Houston’s, it was something directly outside the restaurant that really impressed me.
Just out the front door was Faneuil Hall, a shopping center built in 1824 to support the growing city’s rapid commercial development.
Perhaps foreshadowing the Big Dig, part of Boston Harbor was filled with dirt to provide land for construction of the hall. Expansion and innovation would continue in Beantown for nearly the next two centuries.
Certainly not part of the area’s original construction, the grounds around Faneuil Hall are now graced with solar-powered trashcans—one of the few clean technologies I must say I’d never heard of.
Clean Technologies and The Greening of Waste
The solar powered trashcan outside Faneuil Hall is affectionately dubbed Big Belly, and is made by a company called Seahorse Power.
Big Belly is the brainchild of Jim Poss, who noticed Boston’s problem of overflowing city trashcans back in 1999 during a walk around Boston Common.
Originally a developer for electric car company Selectria, Mr. Poss designed a prototype fitted with a compactor powered by a solar panel.
His first trashcan led to the formation of Massachusetts-based Seahorse Power, which began selling the cans in 2005.
There are now about 500 units in cities from Los Angeles to Chicago to New York. And why not?
Big Belly holds up to five times the amount of a typical trashcan, which reduces collection frequency, fuel consumption and the amount of space needed to store waste in landfills.
The novel can is just one way the $45 billion waste disposal industry is going green. We’ve also recently witnessed the conversion of trash truck fleets to clean fuel vehicles and the creation of energy from waste in the form of biomass, biogas and even cellulosic ethanol.
Incidentally, greening the waste process is also a honey hole for reaping carbon credits. And as we approach a cap-and-trade carbon emissions trading system in the U.S., companies that can make disposing of waste more clean and efficient stand to make a killing, along with the savvy investors who know about the emerging trend.
One such company is Casella Waste Systems (NASDAQ: CWST), which, beyond transforming how the waste stream works, is also guiding and investing in Seahorse Power.
The Adoption of Clean Technologies
Of course, garbage isn’t the only way to capitalize on the scorching hot cleantech revolution. And as Washington State Congressman Jay Inslee disclosed in this morning’s keynote address, the industry is only going to get hotter in 2009 as Congress moves to pass several bills to foster the adoption of clean technologies.
I’ve condensed the Congressman’s speech into six reasons you need to be invested in this sector before 2009. Each is a measure he thinks will be passed in the 2009 legislative session.
6 Reasons to Invest in Clean Technologies
1. A national renewable portfolio standard (RPS) of 15% (no date provided)
2. A complete building code overhaul that will eventually improve energy efficiency in buildings by 50%
3. Net-metering laws ensuring renewable energy adopters can deliver their electricity to the grid
4. A massive increase in Federal R&D spending for clean technologies (which currently stands at 1/55 the cost of the Iraq War)
5. The domestic establishment of a European-style feed-in tariff for renewably-produced electricity, and most importantly
6. The creation of a national cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions
As Mr. Inslee noted, these are just one man’s words. But he seemed fairly confident that most of the initiatives he mentioned could get through both Houses. Naturally, the results of November’s election will be the determining factor in exactly how much clean energy legislation gets passed.
Ultimately, he said, the U.S. needs to reemerge as a technology leader and implementer, with reference to Germany’s domination of the solar business and Denmark’s successful wind industry. (Both of which are investment hotspots for cleantech, whether in Vestas (CPH: VWS), Q-Cells (FRA: QCE), SolarWorld (FRA: SWV) or the numerous other success stories.)
And the need for rapid advancement in clean technology isn’t just about rising temperatures or emissions, it’s also about dollars.
China, as you know, is developing quite rapidly. And they’re trying to do it, albeit with a few glitches, in a somewhat sustainable fashion.
To conclude, Inslee suggested that the U.S. be the ones selling billions of dollars worth of clean technology products to China, rather than having them come from Europe. You can get a piece of that pie too.
In addition to Clean Technology 2008, I’ll also be attending the Renewable Energy Finance Forum later this month.
Information gathered at both events will ultimately culminate in profits as I learn which companies will have an edge going into 2009.
These events always offer insights that can’t be attained behind a desk. In fact, it was at the Alternative Fuels and Vehicles conference in early 2007 where I learned about the lucrative opportunity of "Clean Air Cashouts." You may want to check it out.
Call it like you see it,