Cleantech stocks robust in 2007, so far

The Cleantech Index, which tracks 47 publicly traded companies in the cleantech sector, is doing quite well these days. If you managed to invest in the PowerShares Cleantech Portfolio (ticker: PZD on the AMEX) in early March, you’ve enjoyed a 24 per cent return on your shares — not bad. Cleantech Indices LLC, part of the Cleantech Group, announced today that it was adding EnerNOC, Comverge and LDK Solar to the index. EnerNOC and Comverge both have products for energy demand-management on the grid, an area that’s expected to receive more attention over the coming years as utilities look for ways to smooth out peak electricity demand and ease pressure on the electricity system.

Since the beginning of the year, the Cleantech Index has seen an 18 per cent increase, compared to 8 per cent from the Nasdaq Composite Index, 7 per cent from the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index and 7 per cent from the S&P 500 Index. It’s a positive reflection on the sector and the opportunity.

Cleanfield Energy goes commercial with small wind

Cleanfield Alternative Energy, maker of a new vertical-axis small wind turbine, unveiled its new 3.5 kilowatt product recently after collaborative study with the Ontario Centres of Excellence and McMaster University’s mechanical engineering department in Hamilton. The Ancaster, Ont.-based company, founded in 2002, also announced it was raising up to $1.5 million through a private-equity offering.

(OCE has a profile of the company here).

Cleanfield has been testing the VAWT prototype with McMaster since 2005 and completed the tests last spring. Originally, it was rated as a 2.5 kw system, but tests were so successful the company was able to re-rate the product at 3.5 kw.

What will be interesting is how the City of Hamilton decides to proceed with a proposal from Cleanfield to install 150 of its turbines on up to 50 municipal buildings as part of a project partially funded by Sustainable Development Technology Canada and the Green Municipal Fund. It will be a great test of the technology, and one of the only small-wind projects I’m aware of that could participate in the province’s standard offer program.

Cleanfield’s timing is also good, given the government is launching a pilot financing program that will provide zero-interest loans to homeowners and small businesses that want to install solar thermal/PV, geothermal and small wind systems. The program is limited initially to Peel Region, including Mississauga and Brampton, but could expand across Ontario if it proves effective in sparking take-up of small-scale renewable energy systems.