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Make Alternative Energy Your Business

With unstable gas prices and increasing environmental awareness, an alternative energy business could put you on the road to success.
December 1, 2006

Got grease? Justin Carven of Greasecar Vegetable Fuel Systems LLC does. The 29-year-old founder's Easthampton, Massachusetts, business makes conversion kits that allow diesel engines to run on vegetable oil. "Ultimately, it's the rising fuel prices that are convincing people to get onboard," says Carven. Greasecar sales have grown by more than 200 percent each year over the past couple of years and are expected to reach up to $2.5 million this year. And the company is jumping into the commercial and municipal markets with enthusiasm.

Some major alternative energy growth areas include solar, hydrogen, bio-fuel, fuel cells and energy conservation technologies. Development, installation and creative application of these technologies are all possibilities for entrepreneurs. "It won't be just one alternative energy source that will be the silver bullet to solve our problems; it will be multiple options," says Nabil Nasr, director of the Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. Research firm Clean Edge expects the worldwide market for clean energy to reach $167 billion within a decade, up from $40 billion in 2005. Entrepreneurs will have to find their niches and build flexible companies that can react as the energy market changes. Nasr advises businesses to diversify their marketing and selling sources.

"It's really easy for startups to pop up overnight," says Carven. "This market is larger than people may think."

Getting Started
Thinking of starting an alternative energy business? Follow these tips: