I’ve been busy so I haven’t updated the underlying company data since 5/28.   So when I ran a few queries today to perform an update I found a large number of OTC companies were now valued under $1 million USD and had sunk into un-traded status.  With the blush off the sustainable energy business I don’t think many, if any, of these small OTC companies will develop.  As a result I’ve pruned my database of these firms and I’m now tracking 303 companies.  So after years of development, the sustainable energy business, in the aggregate, represents 27% of the market value of Exxon Mobil.

Why do I say the blush is off the sustainable energy business?   Here are a couple of quick reasons:

  • shale gas in the US is providing a clean, low cost energy supply that is directly competing with renewable electric generation.  One location where I generate electricity had the “Short run avoided cost”  electric price for May set at less than $20/MWh!  This super low prices stems from cheap gas,  tons of efficient combined cycle generation in the western US, and locational marginal pricing penalizing a rural location.  Try to generate anything, much less solar or wind, at that price level.
  • budget problems everywhere are affecting subsidies and subsidies are what have gotten the sustainable energy business rolling, and
  • the growing realization that no progress is being made, or frankly is likely to be made, on green house gas emission reductions is leading to diminished support for the subsidies  supporting higher cost low-carbon sources.  The subsidies aren’t just high tariff rates but also RPS programs and cap-and-trade programs monetizing RECs.

That said, there has been a lot of progress made,  particularly in the electric generation arena.  Wind and solar are now more efficient and lower cost then ever before.  And of all the renewables they have proven to be scale-able to a meaningful size.   It also possible that EVs will able to improve their competitive position against gasoline / diesel internal combustion engines.  EVs work, it just a matter of cost.  And sustainable energy has real value as a hedge against the inevitable price excursions in the fossil markets.