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CalPERS investment chief is big on new energy technologies
Posted on Monday, November 12, 2007 @ 22:42:45 EST by vlad

Investors
Mark Anderson - Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal

As chief investment officer for the nation's largest public pension fund, Russell Read looks at the big picture. Not so much the big picture today, but the one in 10 or 20 years.

In that crystal ball, he sees the vital importance of energy and commodities all over the world. Much of the existing economy is based on cheap oil. The not-too-distant future will require alternatives, and the California Public Employees' Retirement System is big enough to give alternatives a boost.

Future energy demand will create entirely new industries -- and fabulous financial returns. Read is piloting the system to invest in those technologies and companies.

Read joined CalPERS in June 2006. He hasn't made any dramatic changes at the pension fund, but pushed for more ability to invest in emerging markets, commodities and hedge funds...

There are a host of new technologies and fuel sources that will play a critical role meeting world energy demand, Read said, and many of them are clean sources. Market forces will create compelling long-term investment opportunities for CalPERS over the coming decade, and the system will play a constructive and profitable role, Read said.

Everybody wants to save the world, but CalPERS is in a unique position: With assets of more than $250 billion, it is big enough to do something about it.

"There are situations where our size can act to our advantage," Read said. The system can deploy enough money into a technology to make the difference between it happening and not happening "and allow us to use our scale to an advantage. It is essential we find opportunities where our scale can be used for us and not against us."

Getting new energy technology to the market runs against scale and competition with existing oil industry and a subsidized corn ethanol market...


The former hot industries of real estate, information technology and biotechnology aren't nearly as rich in potential as energy, Read said. Suddenly there's money going to research.

"This is significant," he said. "What will be surprising to investors and to the public will be the rate of technology change in the energy sector."

Source: CalPERS


 
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"CalPERS investment chief is big on new energy technologies" | Login/Create an Account | 1 comment | Search Discussion
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Re: CalPERS investment chief is big on new energy technologies (Score: 1)
by Veryskeptical on Wednesday, November 14, 2007 @ 14:05:22 EST
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Sounds nice, but lots of people are begging for money they don't get. What would actually get Calpers to commit to a new energy project? The above is the kind of statement most anyone would endorse so it says essentially nothing.

The real question is to whom and to what they are actually willing to give money and on what terms. Would they go to Steorn for example? It is a player in magnetic motors. But for all Steorn's insistence on the reality of their product they have recently lost some credibility and they are a foreign firm. (Note the emerging market issue above.) Would they go to Blacklight Power and invest in the hydrino process? Possibly a major player but seems to be mired in patent problems. And which of the many groups investigating cold fusion would get the nod? None of them seem to have a clearly dominant process or product to offer.

The point is that Calpers is a pension fund and investing retirement money in speculative investments of this nature may be contrary to its charter. So I am inclined to wonder how much Calpers could really help until the firms in the new energy movement have become more respectable investments on their own. Remember the old saw: Banks only lend money to people who don't need it.



 

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