Jobs in Alternative Energy Fields

Many people who take jobs in the alternative energies research and development sector have to, at least in the beginning, take relatively low pay. Taking a job in this industry is thus not about—or, not predominantly about—making money, although that is needless to say important, as one who is not well-fed soon becomes one who is not productive at work, especially when we are considering the brain-work involved in the work of researching and developing technologies in the alternative energies sector. There are those who take a job just because they find it is a fulfilling task that they have undertaken—something that is going to help mankind, or their society, or the Earth herself. But in truth, what most people dream of in terms of work is a position that they at once enjoy immensely while they also are receiving good money for their time and energy.

Positions in the alternative energy research and development industry often offer just such an opportunity.

The alternative energy field is in need of a vast array of different positions. Many people who get into this are the kind who would keep the power plants up and running (these include plant operators or mechanics), others are the developers of new alternative energies (engineers, scientists), and others make it all happen to start with by investing in alternative energy. So–not only do these people have the blessing of an exciting and fulfilling career, but these same people are making the world a better place.

The business of alternative energy is rapidly growing due to the fact that many governments are now supporting it. Investors have become excited about putting their financial backing into the alternative energy industry because they can see that it’s the wave of the future, out of both need and the fact of government support. Rising oil prices make alternative energies’ tantalization rise in the minds of investors. As investors become more interested, there is more money available for companies to start up or expand, and that leads (of course) to more job opportunities.

The US government is unquestionably involved in promoting the idea of new jobs as being readily available in the alternative energy sector. According to the President, in order to achieve greater use of “homegrown”, renewable fuels in the United States, advanced technologies need to be researched and developed so as to be able to make ethanol from plant fibers’ biomass, which at the present time is merely discarded as waste material. The President’s 2007 Federal Budget includes $150 million (a $59 million increase over the Federal Budget for 2006) to help with the development of biofuels derived from agricultural waste products such as wood chips, corn stalks, and switch grass. Researchers tell us that furthering the cause of research into cellulose-based ethanol could make the technology cost-competitive by 2012, while potentially displacing up to 30% of the nation’s current fuel consumption.

The President’s plan would additionally drive on next-generation research and development of battery technology for hybrid vehicles in addition to “plug-in hybrid” vehicles. A “plug-in” hybrid runs on either gasoline or electricity, depending upon an on-board computer calculation. Driving in a city setting consumes almost no gasoline over as much as a week’s time with these vehicles.

Investments in Alternative Energy

It is possible to have a portfolio which profitably (that’s the key word, is it not?) invests in alternative energy funds. “Green” energy production is expected to be a multi-billion (in today’s dollars) industry by 2013.

The most recently developed wind-turbine technologies have brought us wind-produced energy which is more cost efficient as well as more widespread. More state-of-the-art wind energy technologies are typically more market competitive with conventional energy technologies. The newer wind-power technologies don’t even kill birds like in days of old! Wind energy production is a growing technology, and companies engaged in it would make up an excellent part of a growth or aggressive growth portfolio.

Next to consider are solar cell, or photovoltaic cell, technologies. These are to be found implemented in pocket calculators, private property lights, US Coast Guard buoys, and other areas. More and more they find their way onto the roofs of housing and commercial buildings and building complexes. Cost is falling. Their energy efficiency (the ratio of the amount of work needed to cause their energy production versus the actual energy production) is steadily on the rise. As an example, the conversion efficiency of silicon cells has increased from a mere four percent in 1982 to over 20% for the latest technologies. Photovoltaic cells create absolute zero pollution as they are generating electrical power. However, photovoltaic cellls are not presently as cost effective as “utility produced” electricity. “PV” cells are not [capable at present for producing industrial-production amounts of electricity due to their present constraints on space. However, areas where photovoltaic cell arrays could be implemented are increasingly available. In sum, costs are going down while efficiency is rising for this alternative fuel technology.

Many alternative energy investment portfolio advisors are confident that alternative energies derived from currents, tidal movement, and temperature differentials are poised to become a new and predominant form of clean energy. The French are actually fairly advanced at hydro power generation, and numerous studies are being made in Scotland and the US along these sames lines. Some concerns center around the problems with the deterioration of metals in salt water, marine growth such as barnacles, and violent storms which have all been disruptions to energy production in the past. However, these problems for the most part seem to be cured through the use of different, better materials. Ocean-produced energy has a huge advantage because the timing of ocean currents and waves are well understood and reliable.

Investments in hydro-electric technology have grown in the last two decades. Hydro-electric power is clean; however, it’s also limited by geography. While already prominent as power generation, the large, older dams have had problems with disturbing marine life. Improvements have been made on those dams in order to protect marine life, but these improvements have been expensive. Consequently, more attention is now being paid to low-impact “run-of-the-river” hydro-power plants, which do not have these ecological problems.

The reality is, the energy future is green, and investors would do well to put their money out wisely, with that advice in their minds.

Investment into Alternative Energy Research and Development

The US government must continue to back the expansion of the role of alternative energy research and development and its implementation by companies and homeowners. Although this writer believes in the reign of the free market and that “that government is best which governs least”, our current system has companies and people expecting federal backing of major initiative with direct investment, in the form of tax breaks, rebate incentives, and even direct central bank investment into the alternative energy industry.

The US and its citizenry need to invest all of the time and energy that they can spare to the conversion from a fossil fuel burning society to one that is green for several different reasons. The green economy will not harm the environment or the quality of our air like fossil fuel burning does. We can become the energy independent nation that we need to be by cutting away our need to import oil, especially oil that is produced by anti-American nations such as Iran. Ultimately, renewable energies and extremely efficient energies like atomic energy are far less expensive than the continuous mining and drilling for fossil fuels. If we do not invest in our future now, catastrophe awaits us. We are going to need to consume more energy than ever in our history as we sail into the 21st century and beyond—our dependency on foreigners for meeting these energy needs only leaves us open to sabotage while draining our coffers in order to fill other nations’.

It can be argued that federal, state, and local governments should work in conjunction on the issue of alternative energy research and development and implement mandatory programs for new home construction and all home remodeling that stipulate the installation of alternative energy power sources—eventually over a certain period of years transforming into 100% installation of alternative energy sources for any new home or corporate building—as well as backing a similar program to have all new vehicles produced in the nation be hybrid vehicles or hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles by the year 2020. All levels of government could also impose mandatory compliance laws on construction and utilities companies. The utility companies in all 50 states should be required to invest in alternative energy research and development while also being required to buy back, at fair rates, excess energy produced by homeowners through their use of alternative energy power sources. Strong financial incentives need to be in place for new companies to invest in developing renewable energies. This would not only make the US energy independent at the fastest possible rate, but it would stimulate the growth of the economy and provide tens of thousands of new, good-paying jobs for people.

Alternative energy generation in the forms of solar, wind, hydroelectric, biofuel, geothermal, and atomic; alternative energy storage systems such as more efficient batteris and hydrogen fuel cells; and alternative energy-furthering infrastructures with superior energy efficiency all need to be brought into the affordable price range through development. Government investment into these matters would surely help us along.

Investing in Alternative Energy Stocks

Alternative energy stock portfolios are a great part of a modern investor’s financial plan, due to the fac that there is so much upward potential. These make excellent long term growth investment vehicles, and the money put into them by you, the investor, serves to further the cause of implementing the alternative energy power sources that we need as we sail into the 21st century and beyond.

Analysts predict that by 2013, the alternative energy industry will be a $13 billion dollar industry in today’s dollars. This figure bespeaks an enormous return on investment. Indeed, if you were to invest in a start-up alternative energy company, you might find yourself having invested in the next Microsoft in terms of return on investment. People are fed up with the rising costs of gasoline—while this alone is not sufficient understanding of the need for developing alternative energy sources, it is a factor which can act as a market maker—meaning for you that investments in alternative energy companies makes a lot of financial sense.

However, this does not mean that you don’t first want to do some careful research into alternative energy stocks, perhaps with the help of a financial planner. “A few alternative-energy companies are going after the right markets but that doesn’t mean you should go buy every name in the sector. Investors need to be cautious about chasing the stocks,” says Sanjay Shrestha, who is an analyst at First Albany Capital. And if you are an investor, then you know that the problem in this sector is that nearly every single one of the major players in the alternative energy for profit game are start-ups or in the very early stages of growth. This means for you that they have relatively minuscule (even if rapidly growing) sales, and no expected profitability in the near term or history of earnings for you to be able to research. This can lead to some bubbling, as with what happened to the dot-com industry at the turn of the 21st century. Bubbling in the stock market is not a good thing for investors.

Ananlysts and financial planners can play a crucial role in helping you get it right with alternative energy investing. “We don’t play around in the tiny cap stocks that have technology and not much revenue—the ‘hope’ stocks. We invest in companies with clear cash-generation plans in place,” are the words of Ben walker, who is a senior portfolio manager at the Gartmore Global Utilities fund out of London.

Still, the outlook is very positive overall—and healthy. “It is good to see that the number of renewable energy funds and the amount of money flowing into these funds is increasing,” according to chief executive of UK alternative elecricity supplier Good Energy Juliet Davenport. “The renewable generation market is at an important stage in its development; it needs the continued support of the consumer, investor and government to ensure that it reaches its potential and really starts to make a difference to climate change.”