Since we’ve been discussing whether or not we’re likely to see another green boom (let alone bubble) in the absence of high prices, it’s worth looking at some charts of the fuel cell stocks — which were solar stocks before there were solar stocks — during the last bubble. Remember, ’99-’00 was a period of very low oil prices, but that didn’t stop the crazy enthusiasm for these companies.
Here’s Canadian firm Ballard Power (BLDP). Notice a huge spike when the .coms peaked, but really no help at all from recent oil prices:
Here’s Plug Power (PLUG), with a very similar trajectory. Note that it only IPO’d in late 1999.
And one more, here’s Fuel Cell (FCEL) energy, which actually peaked later in the rest:
Bottom line: Though you can’t extrapolate too much from three charts, you can get bubbles in green tech even when there’s low oil prices and, you’ll find green tech stocks that lag even when energy prices are soaring. Some green tech companies may be correlated with the price of oil, but clearly not all. Also, looking back on these charts reminds us that the .com bubble wasn’t just about the .coms. If anything it looks like a fit of general over-optimism about technology and the future. Remember, people thought that the then-unknown vehicle codenamed Ginger (the Segway) would revolutionise all of transportation and urban planning. Yeah, we got a little ahead of ourselves.
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