Obama Touts Solar, Geothermal

 |  Includes: CPN, HTM, KWT, ORA, RZTIQ, TAN
by: Tate Dwinnell

Originally published on author's site on May 27, 2009.

Prez Obama spoke at Nellis Air Force base today discussing the importance of renewable energy and announcing funding efforts for solar and geothermal. Nellis Air Force base is home to the largest solar installation in the Western hemisphere and provides 25% of the electricity for the 12000 who live and work at the base, saving the military about $1 million a year.

Here are some highlights of the speech..

“America produces less than 3 percent of our electricity through renewable sources of energy like wind and solar — less than 3 percent. In contrast, Denmark produces 20 percent of their electricity through wind. We pioneered solar technology, but we’ve fallen behind countries like Germany and Japan in generating it, even though they get less sun than we do. They certainly get less sun than Nevada.”

Obama announced the availability of funding for two Recovery Act programs to spur the growth of solar and geothermal energy.

“I’m announcing the availability of funding for two Recovery Act programs that will help us reach that goal.

The first is a solar energy technologies program that will help replicate the success of the Nellis project in cities and states across America — because in this case, what happens in Vegas should not stay in Vegas. (Laughter and applause.) We want everybody to know what we’re doing here in Vegas. (Applause.) We’ll invest in the development and deployment of solar technology wherever it can thrive and we’ll find the best ways to integrate solar power into our electric grid.

The second program I’m announcing will help develop the use of geothermal energy in America. As many of you in Nevada know, geothermal energy is literally defined as “heat from the earth.” This heat can then be harnessed as a clean, affordable, and reliable source of energy. And already, Nevada has 17 industrial scale geothermal plants, and your capacity to generate this type of power is expected to increase in the next few years. The program we’re announcing will help accelerate this process — here, and across America. So this is something that we expect will — (applause.) — this will create more jobs, it will create more businesses, and more affordable electricity for the American people.”

The full text of the speech is here. For those more visually inclined, the video is below:

There are many ways to play solar on the US exchanges with the Claymore Solar ETF (NYSEARCA:TAN) and the Market Vectors Solar Energy ETF (NYSEARCA:KWT) offering diversified ways to play the sector. Fewer investors are aware of the ways to play geothermal, so I thought I’d discuss a few ways to play it with individual stocks. Please note these are not buy recommendations! Due your own due diligence before making trade decisions (links for the free analysis below may help you).

Geothermal Stocks:

  • Ormat (NYSE:ORA) is the big 800 lb gorilla in the space and probably the safest bet
  • Calpine (NYSE:CPN) is an electric utility with significant geothermal exposure
  • Raser Technologies (RZ) will begin booking revenue for its first geothermal plant next year
  • US Geothermal (NYSEMKT:HTM) is expected to begin producing geothermal energy at its Neal Springs plant in about 2 years