Considering the President's pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions 17% from 2005 levels by 2020, microturbines, which are really high-speed fuel turbines, may be about to score big points with investors looking to profit from Obama's climate plan. I'm extremely bullish on microturbines because of the ability to generate heat and provide electricity from mainly natural gas, but also diesel, hydrogen, propane, or even methane.
The idea of cogeneration power or combined heat and power is already very much proven, but the concept of using one power source for a one-two efficiency punch is finding new allure among utilities, commercial interests, investors, and policy makers, all seeking cost-effective, low-carbon energy solutions in a world trying to reverse global warming. This bodes well for microturbines because they produce the lowest emissions of any fossil fuel internal combustion system. Therefore the adoption of microturbines could lower state and regional SO2 and NOx figures.
Don't let size fool you: Microturbines, roughly 15-300 kilowatts in size, require low maintenance since they have only one moving part. They can eliminate the need for industrial backup generators, including reciprocating engines used to create biogas. Due to their smaller, lightweight size they can be used in heavy-duty commercial hybrid vehicles and are scalable off the grid in order to help maximize energy production from landfill sites, wastewater treatment plants, and/or oil and gas sites while allowing heat from flaring to be used for energy, rather than emitted as a pollutant.
Capstone Turbine (NASDAQ:CPST) is a microturbine play I believe is undervalued with tens of millions of hours of operation across the globe. Capstone should benefit from new demand for onboard power from the marine industry thanks to wider adoption of liquefied natural gas as well as growing interest in the reuse of methane gas for energy from coal mine gas. Plus, an increased presence in the oil market is likely to help market penetration for Capstone since more and more E&P companies (including Chinese firms) are looking to be more energy efficient to keep costs down and meet emissions standards.
John Licata has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow John on Twitter @bluephoenixinc. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.