One of the best plays in the alternates is the replacement of the oil -fired home boiler market, there is +200m home boilers in Europe being replaced at the rate of 10-12m per year. There is one company that will have a home "ceramic fuel cell" alternative in production in product by early 2009. At a cost of $2800 Euros you can have these installed and connected to the gas within a couple of hours, they produce 2Megawatts of electricity for the house, the heat output can be used for hot water, spare capacity can be sent back onto the grid, they have 5-6 major utility partners as customers as well as sub shareholders. They have just received their first order from Nuon for the first 50,000 units (100m pound isnt a bad first order for a tech start up) they have only one competitor thats 2 years behind them (Ceres).
They are beaten down just above their all time low, plenty of access to capital and cash in the bank.
The emergence of distributed energy is technology is an echo back to the emergence of distributed computing, why send fuel to the power station and grid it to the home (30% efficient ) when you can send the fuel directly to a fuel cell sitting in the laundry (90% efficient), this cuts entire energy logistics chain . Whats also apparent is type of "moores law" efficiency in the technology, 2 years ago they were pumping out 0.50 megawatts from the POC, 2007 they improved that to 1Mg this year its 2Mg (all from the same unit at the same cost)
Europeans use as much oil heating their houses as they do driving there cars, clean autos will take years to roll out , where this is nearly upon us and feeds into a rising oil price due to lower production and emission/carbon legislation due to hit Europe in the next 12 mths