Global environmental challenges
Introducing the Reuters Global Green Portfolio
As part of Reuters new Green Business section, we have chosen a diverse group of companies to serve as a proxy for the emerging green technology sector. Over the coming months we’ll be discussing each of them at length, and rebalancing our portfolio to reflect trends in the industry.
Click here to see our portfolio in action. You can track our performance against benchmarks, comment on our choices, and create a portfolio of your own.
Comverge, Inc is one of the leading demand-response companies, known for their role in limiting electricity use during peak demand, employing technology to manage large companies’ power usage and control their costs. Their software can automatically adjust an air conditioner’s temperature or turn off a swimming pool pump when power supplies are tight, reducing prices for suppliers and end users by lowering end user demand at peak times.
Cree Inc manufactures light emitting diode (LED) fixtures, which consume less energy and last longer than incandescent and fluorescent lights. LED’s are experiencing increased demand as costs for power generation and concerns about greenhouse gas emissions rise, and Cree recently reported a third-quarter profit that topped Wall Street estimates on increased demand for ultra-efficient lighting,
LG Chem Ltd looks at first glance is an old-line industrial company with a petrochemical segment provides basic chemicals like polyvinyl chloride products, plasticizers, octanol, and butanol. But the company’s Compact Power unit is producing the lithium-ion battery for General Motors Volt plug-in, and the company is expected to play a central role as more hybrid autos roll out.
First Solar, Inc designs and manufactures solar modules using a thin film semiconductor technology. Its solar modules employ a thin layer of cadmium telluride semiconductor material to convert sunlight into electricity. The company has benefited from cost-conscious utilities’ efforts to buy more clean, renewable power through deals with Sempra and Edison International’s (EIX.N) Southern California Edison, and expanded its presence in the U.S. utility market in April with the acquisition of rival OptiSolar’s project pipeline.
Itron Inc makes smart meters for the electricity and water industries, which allow households to monitor their power usage while also sending the data back to their local utility. Utilities can then read meters remotely, saving the cost of a worker, a truck and fuel.
Energy Conversion Devices Inc makes lightweight, flexible solar laminates for rooftops and buildings that convert sunlight to electricity. Although the company was forced to slash its revenue outlook in March, executives argued that the company’s strong balance sheet and differentiated products would allow it to weather the recession better than many solar players. The company’s so-called thin film products are made from amorphous silicon and unlike traditional solar panels, do not rely on costly crystalline silicon as their primary raw material.
Ocean Power Technologies is developing water buoys that capture wave power. Based in New Jersey, the company is working with Spanish utility Iberdrola and various governments on wave power projects in Spain, the United States and the Orkney Islands and Cornwall in the UK.
Ormat Technologies is engaged in the geothermal and recovered energy power business. The Company designs, develops, builds, owns and operates geothermal recovered energy-based power plants, usually using equipment that it designs and manufactures. In 2008 the company bid over $3.5 million for rights to explore for geothermal energy beneath an active volcano near Alaska’s largest city.
Pacific Ethanol produces and sells ethanol and its co-products, and provides transportation, storage and delivery of ethanol through third-party service providers in the Western United States. Ethanol makers have suffered as the drop in gasoline and ethanol prices have outpaced the downturn in prices of corn, the main component of U.S. ethanol. Pacific Ethanol has three of its four plants idled in the industry slump and is in default on $230 million of construction-related term loans and $31.5 million in notes.
Q-Cells is the world’s largest maker of solar cells. The company said it saw business pick up in March, signaling it may have passed the worst of the crisis that has hit the sector. Solar stocks have skyrocketed since March on optimism about government efforts to stimulate demand for the clean energy source, but analysts warn that with earnings season beginning, investors in the high-flying sector are in for a strong dose of reality.
SunPower Corp SunPower Corporation is a vertically integrated solar products and services company that designs, manufactures and markets high-performance solar electric power technologies. Makers of solar panels were virtually unscathed by the economic downturn until late last year, when funding for all types of projects dried up, green ones included.
Suntech Power Holdings Co. is the top Chinese solar panel maker, which designs, develops, manufactures and markets a variety of photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules. Shares of Chinese solar companies have been among the biggest gainers since China said in late March that it would launch a generous subsidy for solar power systems.
Suzlon Energy Ltd of India is one of the world’s largest producers of wind turbines. The company said in February that sales of new U.S. wind power generation in 2009 will probably be half the record 2008 level as the financial crisis paralyzed cash flows to new wind farms. Development of new wind farms has slowed sharply in recent months as banks suffering from the global credit crisis shut off the flow of money for new projects.
MEMC Electronic Materials makes silicon wafers for the semiconductor and solar industries. The company said last week that although prices for polysilicon wafers remained far below levels seen recently — prices went as high as $500 a kilogram last year due to a shortage of the material in the burgeoning solar industry -0- demand began to show some signs of improvement in the early part of the second quarter.