Tuesday, October 25, 2016
The headlines yesterday heralded the fate of workers and their families following the closure of the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant. It was a stark message of lost jobs and piles of nuclear waste left behind by the plants owner, the Omaha Public Power District. Despite years of uneventful and successful power generation, Fort Calhoun is no longer an economical power source.
In Fort Calhoun’s neighborhood north of Omaha, Nebraska there are apparently numerous renewable alternatives that are more competitive. The area is blessed with strong winds, numerous sunny days and ample natural gas under the prairie soil. Nebraska is littered with wind turbines and solar panels and has over 20,000 natural gas pipeline running across the state. Despite regular maintenance and upgrades with shiny new equipment, Fort Calhoun’s numbers just do not add up anymore.
Friday, October 21, 2016
The recent pullback in stock prices in the U.S. equity market has opened the door to some interesting dividend yields. Investors with a taste for environmentally-friendly businesses have some particularly interesting alternatives that can pump up the purse as well as protect Mother Earth.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Last week Amyris (AMRS: Nasdaq) announced a major agreement with an unnamed producer of food ingredients and nutraceuticals to produce ‘fermentation molecules.’ This certainly is not the first set up in the nutraceuticals industry for Amyris. In April 2016, the company signed a five-year $100 million agreement to supply its signature biochemical ingredient Biofene to another unnamed nutraceutical company. Just one month ago, an existing relationship to supply Biofene to a nutraceutical producer was expanded.
Development took an entire decade for the company’s flagship product, a farnesene branded Biofene. Farnesene is a set of six closely related chemical compounds that can occur naturally in many plants and most frequently in fruits. Historically, farnesene has been used in fragrances, flavor and brewing. Amyris and others have loaded farnesene into their wagons, because it is a hydrocarbon building block. This is near gold in an economy that is attempting to make a shift from petroleum to a sustainable source for hydrocarbons.
Friday, October 14, 2016
Then the dwarfs said, “If you will keep our house for us, and cook, and wash, and make the beds, and sew and knit, and keep everything tidy and clean, you may stay with us, and you shall lack nothing….In the morning the dwarfs went to the mountain to dig for gold; in the evening they came home, and their supper had to be ready for them.”
Grimms’ Fairy Tales
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Cast out by her wicked step-mother and nowhere to go Snow White struck what must have seemed a good bargain - cleaning-up after seven diminutive gold miners in exchange for room and board. Society in general has had a similar economic pact with the mining industry, overlooking environmental degradation in exchange for the minerals and metals that win wars, harness energy and build bastions of safety. However, as time has passed, the value proposition has changed. Higher populations, increased pressure on limited water and power resources, and unprecedented scale in mining operations, have amplified dangers to society.
Like a dirty boot on Snow White’s freshly scrubbed floor, damage to the environment and danger to human health has left society calling for stricter curbs on mining activity. Snow White, to her peril, kept letting strangers into the living room, perhaps looking for solace in companionship. Society may get some help from a new technology - geopolymerizaton.