Investing in Green Technology?

A provocative article appeared in The Nation recently: “Guns Beat Green: The Market Has Spoken.” The author postulates that those investing in private security and defense companies will do better — at least in the short run — than those who put a special focus on green technology. Given the recent emphasis by the media on the promise of these emerging green technologies, this article’s point of view is disappointing to me. This imbalance could be true for a while, until the return on investment for green technologies is equal to or better than that of the conventional technologies. I’m personally making some investments in green technology companies and funds because I believe in learning by doing.


8 Responses to “Investing in Green Technology?”

  1. 1 Rob Morton

    Bob:

    I couldn’t agree with you more about investing in green technologies. You may be interested to learn that I used some of the funds I got from the SAIC dividend as seed money to start a small business to produce biodiesel from waste vegetable oil that we collect from restaurants. During the past year Newport Biodiesel LLC has been able to raise nearly $450,000 through personal investments of twenty partners, including some who are also ex-SAIC employees. We are now in a position to produce over 1,000 gallons of biodiesel a day and expect to double that output during the next year. We have found that there is great, community wide, interest in a sustainable, environmentally safe, energy source and we have received substantial support from local business and governmental agencies. We are now selling biodiesel for heating oil and will be supplying fuel for marine use in the near future.

    I have to say that the lessons I learned as a manager at SAIC have certainly helped to establish this business; now the issue will be whether or not we are able to make the operation profitable and provide a good return on investment to our partners. The future looks bright, particularly considering the price of petroleum diesel and the willingness of customers to pay a premium to support an environmentally sound alternative fuel.

    Take a look at our website at http://www.newportbiodiesel.com, hopefully businesses like this will help to establish green technologies as a viable investment alternative.

    Rob Morton

  2. 2 Dr. Beyster

    Rob: I was really pleased to hear about your new business in Rhode Island making biodiesel — that makes a lot of common sense to me. I suspect you have good business advisors who can help you put together a company that can develop larger quantities of biodiesel than your projected 2,000 gallons a day for next year. You’ll probably need a lot higher levels to achieve breakeven, and to have a significant impact on the market. Enjoying my new powerboat. A side comment on the America’s Cup: It seems to be a mess right now with Ellison and the Spanish fighting it out in the New York Supreme Court. I’m personally in favor of keeping the present design rules and having the competition sooner rather than later — perhaps in two years. — Bob

  3. 3 Rob Morton

    Bob:

    The America’s Cup is certainly back in its usual contentious mode, but I think that Ellison was right to take it to court. I went to a presentation at the NYYC where Dawn Riley indicated that even though many of the syndicates had accepted the Alinghi protocols and challenged; they did so mainly to keep sponsorship funding in place. She said that there was a meeting of all the challengers and Oracle volunteered to step up and take the case to court. As they say, it’s tough to make Ellison look good, but Bertarelli is doing his best.

    I think that if they don’t resolve something and at least have a plan for a race with multiple challengers soon, then a lot of those small syndicates will be gone. I agree that racing as soon as possible in the same boats would be best, although stepping up to a bigger boat wouldn’t be the end of the world. The trouble with the bigger boats is that they all want to get a higher performance boat which just takes away the excitement of match racing. The closeness of the racing last time was really great.

    Lot’s of people are excited about the possibility of a “Deed of Gift” race between large multihulls; but they think that such a race would automatically eliminate Alinghi. I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. Wouldn’t it be terrible if there were a race in multihulls and Alinghi won again. Then we would have wasted all that time and money and end up right back where we are now, or even worse.

    It’s hard to believe that anyone could be so arrogant that they would ruin the very thing that made them relevant, but I guess that’s just the America’s Cup. Hopefully, we’ll have a resolution soon, but I doubt it.

    Rob

  4. 4 Dr. Beyster

    Rob: I received your blog posting, and I couldn’t agree more with you that Ellison really did the America’s Cup a service, plus enhanced his chances of bring the Cup back to the U.S. I have some confidence that he can put together a winning team, especially since the New York Yacht Club has supported him on the issue of the new rule on boat design, allowing a 90-foot boat. I’d love to see a race again in two years if that’s what it takes to resolve the matter. On another matter, your entry into the biofuel business, I wonder about the smell made by biodiesel and biofuels — does it smell like French fries? What do you do about the smell? — Bob

  5. 5 Rob Morton

    Bob:

    Although our processing facility smells like french fries because of the raw vegetable oil that is put through filters, the resulting biodiesel has almost no odor. The raw vegetable oil is very messy and difficult to work with; you wouldn’t believe some of the stuff we find in it. We filter that through sieves to get the large particles out and and then filter it to remove the remaining particulates. The final product is a very clear, yellowish liquid that is actually drinkable. There is actually an urban legend about a clip of Daryl Hannah drinking some at a biodiesel conference. I haven’t tried any yet!

    Rob

  6. 6 Dr. Beyster

    Rob: I am trying to convince Ron Arnold to use biodiesel in the new boat, but I’m not sure where we would get it in San Diego. I’ll tell him that it doesn’t smell like French fries. It sure sounds like a good idea to me. Are you going to have distributors that use your patented processes, or what? I don’t expect to be in Newport soon, but if you’re in San Diego , I’d like to take you out on my new boat. Happy New Year from your friend Bob Beyster.

  7. 7 a.r.m.

    dr. beyster several hours into a look at private military corporations prompted by your blog entry entitled “investing in green technology?” leaves me with the impression that venture capital investment in green technologies will not be impacted by investment capital diverting into pmcs.

    as an aside, let me quote something found in my look see into the the subject of pmcs, privatization, and related futures:

    We conclude by discussing the likelihood
    of PMCs acting as prototypes for leaner,
    market-based alternatives to traditional
    state structures.

    http://www.dominican.edu/query/ncur/display_ncur.php?id=1281

    as it turns out, “traditional state structures” has a surprising breadth.

    but, no matter that. my recent research on the net involving energy and other “green technologies” leaves me with no doubt but that the compelling needs behind green technologies, and the attention being paid to those needs, reveals that we are properly prioritizing

    let me leave you with this note of one of the nicer things i’ve recently found on the net at the junction of alternative energy and private ownership.

    http://www.fuelcellenergy.com/

    my doing so seems especially appropriate insofar as that search has led me here.

    best regards,

  8. 8 Dr. Beyster

    a.r.m.: Thank you for your blog posting of January 2 and for your additional research into the topic I brought up. I believe that alternative fuels and energy independence will drive our future economy depending on the international situation. Currently, oil prices are on an upward march, however, this could change if there a recession and demand falls. Fuel technology will undoubtedly play a role in transportation and other industries as it has in the space program. How large a role is anybody’s guess at the present time. It’s my impression that there are not that many widespread commercial applications for fuel cells yet. That may change in the future. — Bob


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