Friday, April 27, 2012

It Is All About Location For Renewable Energy Sites

In the last post “Next Move After Solar Sell-Off” I highlighted solar concentration as an alternative or supplement to solar photovoltaic technology.  As a follow-up, let me mention the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Re-Powering America’s Land program.  The EPS is trying to get businesses and communities attempt renewable energy development on contaminated land and mine sites.  A number of sites mostly in the southwestern region have been identified as optimal for solar concentration projects and the agency has put together a handy little map.

It is an interesting proposition using damaged land for renewable energy.  Renewable energy developers are under pressure to reduce costs.  It is a beguiling idea to locate on land that has no “highest and best use” because it has already been fouled by industrial pollution or landfill garbage.  The development project gets a lower-cost location while the land is elevated to some use as opposed to no use.  Government authorities are more than happy to facilitate the permitting process and provide other economic incentives to get land off the “eyesore” list.   For example, a public-private partnership between GenCorp (GY:  NYSE), Solar Power, Inc. (SOPW:  OTC/BB) and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District has led to the development of a remarkable 40-acre solar farm on GenCorp’s Aerojet Superfund site near Sacramento, California.

The Re-Powering America program is not limited to solar concentration projects.  There are plenty of fouled land sites around the country to serve as home base for solar, wind, biogas and geothermal projects.  Axio Power, Inc.  along with First Wind developed a 20 MW wind project called Steel Winds at a brownfield site in New York that once home to the world’s largest steel mill.  The site is shown in the picture at the left.

I expect the Re-Powering program to serve as an accelerant for renewable energy projects.  We expect news of the initial success of these projects and others to ripple through the renewable energy community.  For investors, it will be a matter of watching unfold renewable energy projects.  Brownfield and superfund should be signals of improved economics and therefore improved returns.

Neither the author of the Small Cap Strategist web log, Crystal Equity Research nor its affiliates have a beneficial interest in the companies mentioned herein. Crystal Equity Research has a buy recommendation on GY.

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