AOL Energy Week In Review

on September 30, 2011 at 3:30 PM

After a tumultuous end to the summer, the energy industry has stepped back to focus on fundamentals and damage control in the past few weeks as it prepares for the final months of 2011 and braces for a high-drama politics-focused 2012.

How to attract and allocate rare resources from skittish investors was the focus of the week as the conference season got into full swing. In addition to the high-profile, and oil and gas-heavy, high-level Pacesetters conference, the renewable energy and cleantech industries gathered in California for a pair of events.

Money Metrics

Investors and their wishes dominated the week, as even established and profitable firms discussed their options amid continued damaging volatility in the financial markets.

Low natural gas prices have become the new normal for many firms, and those left exposed to the robust production costs and depressed forward pricing curves are seeking options for their return-hungry investors. Consolidation could be the result, according to industry sources gathered at sector events this week.

Read more: Low Prices Spark Warnings Of Industry Consolidation.

Returns for investors are an essential component of the renewable energy’s next stage of development as a market as well, and the need to prove that a profitable exit could be possible loomed over cleantech industry gatherings this week. Volatility has been even more pronounced in cleantech stocks than in the already stomach-churning general market for equities, resulting in a closed door for those firms that had planned on initial public offerings to provide early investors with profitable exits and attract new capital.

Read more: Clean Tech Paying A High Price For Volatility.

The Shadow Of Solyndra

The bankruptcy of a relatively minor but high-profile solar firm has reverberated across the renewable energy sector over the past month, threatening the business and hard-won reputations of a wide variety of entirely unrelated firms.

The broad reach of the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program and Solyndra’s significant involvement in the program have brought up questions about companies outside the solar sector. The high-profile collapse of the firm has refocused attention among solar company managers on costs, which need to come down quickly at many companies if they are to deal with falling prices for panels.

Read More: Cost Is King In Solar Shakeout.

Government support for renewable energy remains in place despite the Solyndra fallout, but many in the industry are pushing for an eventual end to subsidies in order to burnish the dinged reputation of the entire cleantech industry.

Read more: Benevolent Billionaire Says Renewables Message Needs A Face Lift.

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Photo Caption: A trader monitors offers in the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index options pit at the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) on September 23, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.