Cleantech Investors Bullish on Solar Power, Ethanol and Hybrid Transportation
Among renewable energy sources, solar power is viewed as likely to contribute most to the world's primary energy supplies by 2020, according to a survey of venture capitalists and other financial investors conducted at the recently concluded Cleantech Forum XII in San Francisco by Jefferies & Company, a leading investment bank focused on growing companies and their investors. Among renewable energy sources, solar was selected by 40% of respondents, followed by wind (33%), hydro (22%) and geothermal (5%).
"Given that hydro power represents a much greater percentage of global energy supplies today than does solar, the survey results imply robust growth forecasts for solar energy among conference participants," said Jeffrey Bencik, Vice President and Equity Research Analyst at Jefferies providing coverage of clean technology companies. "To surpass hydro by 2020, solar would need to grow faster than 30% per year, and that assumes hydro-generated power remains flat. While wind is expected to grow quickly as well, solar remains the more attractive investment because of the higher growth rate, better profit margins and, at least in the US, a wide range of investment options, including both traditional manufacturing and potentially game-changing technologies."
In addition, 75% percent of attendees surveyed believe President Bush's target for the US to consume 35 billion gallons of ethanol and other alternative transportation fuels by 2017 -- up from 5 billion today -- is attainable.
"Investors are clearly optimistic on the outlook for renewable fuels, but several issues need to be settled before we can reach the President's target," said Laurence Alexander, Vice President and Equity Research Analyst at Jefferies responsible for coverage of chemicals and industrial biotechnology. "These include the impact on grain costs, the availability of water supplies and logistics. As part of the solution to these issues, alternate feedstocks, such as switchgrass and algae, are attracting more interest and may prove the more viable long-term solution. Investors are also showing more appreciation for the favorable outlook for biodiesel and the opportunity to integrate biofuels with biobased chemicals. The President's goal should be achievable, but it will require additional investment in a broader range of technologies and feedstocks."
The survey results also indicate strong investor optimism for hybrid transportation. Asked which technology has the broadest commercial investment potential over the next five years, 39% of respondents chose hybrid transportation, followed by ethanol (26%), biodiesel (24%) and hydrogen fuel cells (11%). The results support the strong optimism shown by respondents for the attainment of President Bush's alternative fuel consumption target, with alternative fuels accounting for half of the responses.
Hosted by the Cleantech Venture Network(R), the Cleantech Forum was held at the San Francisco Marriott from February 19-21. With investment bankers, research analysts and trading professionals focused on clean technology in the US, Europe and China, Jefferies is a Global Premiere Sponsor of the Cleantech Venture Network.
"With more than 800 venture capitalists and other investors in attendance, the strong turnout to this year's Cleantech Forum is a testament to the growing investor interest in clean technology and alternative energy," said Jeff Lipton, Managing Director of CleanTech Investment Banking at Jefferies. "Over the past three years, this sector has achieved critical mass, allowing investors to dedicate and commit resources to understand and follow the related industries."
Leveraging the firm's strong coverage of growing companies in the clean technology and alternative energy sectors, Jefferies recently introduced a number of indices benchmarking emerging opportunities in this area. The Jefferies Global Clean Technology IndexSM is a composite index of nearly 50 leading small- and mid-cap companies engaged in clean technology worldwide. The Clean Technology index includes companies engaged in solar and wind energy, as well as providers of biofuels, batteries, fuel cells, microturbines, enzymes and catalysts, and crops and seeds. In addition to the composite index, Jefferies has launched targeted sub-indices tracking companies focused on energy generation, energy storage and industrial biotechnology, markets for which widely available performance indicators do not exist. For more information about Jefferies family of indices, visit http://www.jefferies.com/indices
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