In an MSNBC.com “Interactive Feature” HWS associate professor of economics Tom Drennen is quoted discussing President Obama’s “green plan” and its impact on industries.
MSNBC.com contributor Eve Tahmincioglu writes, “While the nation’s economic crisis may delay some of the new administration’s initiatives to spruce up the earth, most economists and industry watchers believe many sectors will begin to reap the rewards of a push for environmentally friendly energy in the next few months and years ahead.”
Drennen believes that amongst renewable energies, wind and all things solar will be the biggest winners. However, as he told Tahmincioglu, he thinks the one, real winner “will be those firms specializing in green trading.”
The article continues, “International negotiations on climate change ‘will likely include some type of cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases. This will lead to the commoditization of greenhouse gases,’ he added.”
Tahmincioglu notes during the “nation’s first cap-and-trade greenhouse gas auction,” it was power companies who bought most of the permits to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. “And with this commoditization will come big opportunities for traders and brokers.”
According to Drennen, “Companies such as Terapass, which sell carbon offsets for personal vehicles, should do very well … other firms specializing in creating offsets in other countries, referred to as the ‘Clean Development Mechanism’ under Kyoto, will also do well.”
The full text of the interactive article follows.
Obama’s green dreams, and what they mean
These industries stand to benefit from plans to curb our oil dependence
Eve Tahmincioglu • contributor
President Barack Obama has some big plans to help curb our dependence on foreign oil and clean up the environment, and that’s going to mean good things for a host of green industries across the country.
While many presidents have talked about similar clean dreams, Obama seems determined to make it happen.
“Embedded in American soil, and the wind and the sun, we have the resources to change. Our scientists, businesses and workers have the capacity to move us forward,” he said in mid-January when he unveiled his plans, including doubling the nation’s production of renewable energy.
While the nation’s economic crisis may delay some of the new administration’s initiatives to spruce up the earth, most economists and industry watchers believe many sectors will begin to reap the rewards of a push for environmentally friendly energy in the next few months and years ahead.
The Beatles song “Here Comes the Sun” could be the anthem for the Obama administration because many hopes are pinned on solar energy.
Demand for solar power has been slowly growing for some time, but it still only represents 1 percent of U.S. energy resources, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. But under the new administration, experts believe the industry will see some of the biggest gains yet.
Today, the U.S. ranks fourth behind Germany, Japan and Spain when it comes to installing solar power.
Solar-power businesses that will benefit include solar panel makers and makers of components and parts used for converting the sun’s energy into electricity, as well as solar panel installation firms. Manufacturers of products that use solar power – such as sun-powered ovens – will also get a boost, as will architectural and construction firms that focus on harnessing passive solar energy by designing homes and buildings that can suck energy out of the sun’s rays.
Wind isn’t just for sailboats these days.
Wind power-generating capacity jumped 45 percent in 2007, and about $9 billion was pumped into the U.S. economy as a result, according to the American Wind Energy Association. The White House is looking to boost wind power by 20 gigawatts, doubling the renewable power usage in the next three years, and that’s good news for installers and manufacturers of wind turbines.
Unfortunately, manufacturers with the most to gain by such increases – wind turbine makers – are few and far between in the United States. But given the size of the turbines, many analysts believe companies will want to locate plants as close as possible to where the systems will be installed as demand picks up.
Forget about stocks and bonds. The trading phenomenon of the future will be energy.
The real winner of Obama’s green initiatives, according to Thomas Drennen, an associate professor of economics and chair of the environmental studies department at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, “will be those firms specializing in green trading.”
International negotiations on climate change “will likely include some type of cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases. This will lead to the commoditization of greenhouse gases,” he added.
Power companies snapped up most of the $38.5 million in permits to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during the nation’s first cap-and-trade greenhouse gas auction last September. And with this commoditization will come big opportunities for traders and brokers.
“Companies such as Terapass, which sells carbon offsets for personal vehicles, should do very well,” Drennen said, adding that “other firms specializing in creating offsets in other countries, referred to as the ‘Clean Development Mechanism’ under Kyoto, will also do well.”
Nuclear and coal
Nuclear power and coal don’t always get a warm reception when it comes to the clean energy discussion, but expect to see bear hugs for both industries under the new Obama administration.
The president’s new energy secretary, Steven Chu, already has said the nation needs to pursue clean coal and nuclear energy as part of the overall mix of environmentally friendly measures.
“An emphasis on reducing carbon emissions will benefit the renewables, as well as nuclear and coal,” said energy economist Lester Lave, a professor at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
But time will tell how much these two alternatives will benefit in long term, he said.
“Whether the boost to the nuclear industry is long-lived will depend on the cost and performance of the first four to eight units that will be built in the next 10 years,” he said.
True, the construction sector took a major hit in January, with massive layoffs announced at a host of big companies, including Caterpillar and Home Depot. But there’s hope on the horizon.
“We will modernize more than 75 percent of federal buildings and improve the energy efficiency of 2 million American homes, saving consumers and taxpayers billions on our energy bills,” Obama said recently.
So who’s going to build all this?
“This would be of major benefit to the construction industry and contractors, both large and small,” said Craig Hovey, economist and professor at Kaplan University.
“It’s something that hasn’t got much attention, overshadowed by the auto industry, infrastructure spending, etc., but is interesting and significant,” he added. “It also sounds like an area where there could be lots of opportunity for recently displaced workers.”
Obama is hot on electric cars.
Shortly after taking office, he ordered the Department of Transportation to establish rules to raise the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks, and he’s the got the Environmental Protection Agency reviewing whether California and other states can implement tailpipe emission caps right away.
While the struggling auto industry will be forced to build more fuel-efficient, smaller vehicles, electric cars are expected to get a boost in order to meet the new requirements.
Richard Stuebi, an economist and energy expert with the nonprofit Cleveland Foundation, sees a push away from petroleum and fuel, which will help electric car makers – and also manufacturers of electric motors and fuel-efficient, lighter materials.
But all these technologies require lots of money to build at a time when credit markets are tight.
“It may take a couple of years” to see the full impact of Obama’s green hopes, said Stuebi.
Who knows, maybe we’ll see a new movie called “Who Resurrected the Electric Car?”
Sources: msnbc.com, The Associated Press