As unrest begins spreading in the Middle East, it may be time to start considering the alternatives we have for foreign oil beyond screaming "drill, baby, drill." True renewable energy sources like wind and solar have a long way to go before cost or capacity is ready to meet massive scale demands. But alternative fuels may be attractive to meet some of the incremental demand without changing everything about our energy consumption.
Here are a few interesting and somewhat bizarre technologies I'm keeping a close eye on as they move closer to hitting the pavement.
What's that smell coming from your tailpipe?
Last year, ExxonMobil
One such competitor, Rentech
Alternative fuels aren't yet the cash cow that traditional fuel sources are, so until infrastructure is built, this is a pretty speculative investment. Rentech did report a 55.4% jump in first-quarter revenue to $42.1 million last week, but it still hasn't swung into profitability. And a lower net loss of $5.5 million, from a $15.5 million loss last year, was mostly because of fertilizer products instead of the fuel the company is pushing.
And distribution may be an issue once capacity is scaled up. Clean Energy Fuels
The demand for Rentech and Syntroleum's technology should continue to improve as the appetite for alternative fuels increases. Speculating on these fuel sources isn't for the faint of heart, but continued growth and high oil prices put these companies in a sweet spot if you're looking for an alternative to natural gas and oil investments.