LATEST ARTICLES

Aviation Biofuels: The Year of the Tree

by Jim Lane When the world’s leaders for sustainable aviation fuels have a general meeting the week before the COP24 global climate sessions (this year in Poland), you can bet that the focus will be breaking the “You Can Have Two out of Three Conundrum” of aviation fuels. Which is to say: affordable, available at scale, and sustainable, pick any two of the three. Fossil fuels are (usually) affordable and always available at scale. Sustainable jet fuels that are available at scale have generally not been affordable to date, and affordable sustainable fuels have been mostly explored at bench scale, so...

Ormat Steams On

Ormat Technologies, Inc. (ORA:  NYSE) recently reported financial results for the three-month period ending September 2018  -  the first full quarter without the revenue and earnings of the company’s Puna geothermal electricity generation project.  In early May 2018, the Kilauea volcano erupted, giving the Hawaiian Islands a grand fire show.  For Ormat and its neighbors near its Puna Geothermal Power Project the volcano was more nightmare than entertainment.  Within a few days Ormat was forced to shut down the facility on Kilauea by removing surface equipment and plugging the geothermal well holes.  Nonetheless, three well sites, the electric substation, an adjacent warehouse and drilling equipment were overtaken...
biodiesel operating margins

Renewable Energy Group’s New CEO: C.J. Warner

by Jim Lane In Iowa, white smoke has emerged from the Renewable Energy Group (REGI) conclave: Tesoro EVP and former Sapphire Energy CEO C.J. Warner has been named chief exec of Renewable Energy Group, at a pivotal moment for biodiesel in Washington and around the world and amidst a boom for renewable diesel like the world has never seen. REG has been making good progress with Wall Street under interim CEO Randy Howard and its share price has been on the rise, and the plants have been humming along nicely churning out hundreds of millions of gallons of biodiesel and the liquid gold...
solar storage and finance

Conference Brief – Solar & Storage Finance

Renewable energy finance has many different kinds of participants, as revealed recently at the Solar & Storage Finance conference hosted in NYC.  .   Listening to the live actors from the financial side of the renewable power industry moved the issues off the page, to a more concrete experience of their specific concerns, including the extent to which their distinct missions were siloed, how they are competitive, and how they synergize. The presentations were organized to highlight these differences.  Several panel discussions were set back-to-back the contrast between lenders vs tax equity investors, both in terms of their goals, but also...

Solar & Storage Finance Conference Notes

I attended the Solar & Storage Finance conference hosted in NYC in late October 2018.  Presenters included a mix of capital providers & asset managers, private non-profit entities & public agencies, legal, accounting & consulting firms, intermediaries, firms providing risk analysis, ratings & mitigation, & various vendors of energy storage and IT-related services.  The tone of the discussions was noteworthy for its near total absence of ideological comments about environmental urgency.   Rather, it was a meeting of finance technicians and technocrats focused on the nuts & bolts of accomplishing those ends, with the merits and relevance of mission assumed. The...
solarwindow

SolarWindow: A Unique But Risky Opportunity

by Debra Fiakas, CFA SolarWindow (WNDW:  OTC/QB) raised $25 million this week to build a manufacturing plant for its electricity-generating glass.   Three investors subscribed to 16.7 million shares of common stock.  The company is getting $19.8 million in new capital in addition to conversion of $3.6 million in debt to common stock. The SolarWindow is unlike any other energy producing innovation.  Rather than relying some sort of dedicated production plant or facility, the SolarWindow is a part of the electricity user’s own facility.  Ultra-thin layers of liquid coatings are sprayed onto a glass surface, forming a network or array of miniature solar cells. This is a type of photovoltaic technology that uses...
10 Clean Energy Stocks for 2018, through Nov 30

Ten Clean Energy Stocks For 2018: Quick November Update

by Tom Konrad Ph.D., CFA At the start of November, I abandoned my short-term bearish stance on the market, writing "I’m not confident that the correction is over, but we seem to be heading into a temporary lull, and so I’m going to abandon cash as my top pick for November."  This turned out to be a good call, with my Ten Clean Energy Stocks model portfolio up 4.3% for the month, slightly behind its broad dividend income benchmark, SDY, which was up 4.9%.    Its clean energy income benchmark YLCO gained 1.6%, as did the private portfolio I manage, the...

Biofuels Industry Reacts To The New RVO Requirements

by Jim Lane What a whirlwind weekend after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced their final renewable volume obligations (RVO) under the Renewable Fuel Standard program for 2019. “It’s just numbers,” some say, but oh no, not in the biofuels world. It’s never just numbers. This time it’s about waivers, fixing the damage done, and ensuring a bright future for biofuels. It’s about hollow chocolate bunnies and two steps back for some. French mathematician Rene Descartes is best known for “I think, therefore I am,” but he also said “Perfect numbers, like perfect men, are rare.” So true in this case as not...
AEIS logo

Advanced Energy: Overlooked and Undervalued

Investors interested in renewable energy often get singularly focused on innovators new energy sources at the expense of companies that provide the nuts and bolts of the energy infrastructure.  Advanced Energy Industries (AEIS:  Nasdaq) is a stalwart of the electric power network, providing power conversion and control components that convert energy to the proper current for use by consumers and business.  The company has a broad product line that has applications with a diverse customer base, including semiconductor manufacturers and chemical processing plants. The 2017 acquisition of Excelsys Holdings Ltd. based in Ireland added products targeted at medical and industrial applications. As popular as Advanced...
Westport HDPI

Westport Fuels Natural Gas Conversion

Earlier this week Westport Fuel (WPRT:  Nasdaq) reported financial results for the quarter ending September 2018.  Based on British Columbia, Westport is a developer and manufacturer of clean fuel systems for both fossil and renewable fuel sources.  It has taken some years, but Westport management has worked hard and overcome a number of obstacles to bring a mix of engines and systems capable of handling various fuels such as natural gas, hydrogen and liquid petroleum gas. Revenue jumped to $65.5 million in the September 2018, quarter delivering $4.3 million in cash earnings.  The company’s relationship with truck engine manufacturer Cummins (CMI: NYSE) is proving to be...

Does The Beyond Meat IPO Spell The End Of The Cow?

by Jim Lane It’s Thanksgiving week in the United States but we are feasting alternatively on acronyms here in Digestville. I.E., e.g., ICYMI, BYND IPO PDQ, and FYI Perfect Day AKA Muufri JDA w/ ADM. As they said at Bletchley Park, let’s get out the Enigma machine and decode. In New York and California this week, the nutrition side of industrial biotechnology — and specifically, the “beyond the cow moovement is, ahem, mooving faster with news that Beyond Meat has filed for its IPO and Perfect Day has inked a Joint Development Agreement with Archer Daniels Midland(ADM) to scale up the production of dairy proteins using fermentation...
GasolineGate

Report Alleges EPA Tests Skewed Against Ethanol By Oil Industry Influence

by Jim Lane In Washington, researchers for a report published by the Urban Air Initiative contend that “technical data that shows the nation has been exposed to decades of flawed test fuels and flawed driving tests, which in turn means flawed emissions results and mileage claims”.  The complete Beyond a Reasonable Doubt series from UAI is available here. Further, EPA emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that, according to a report from Boyden Grey & Associates, the Agency appears to have directly solicited financial contributions and technical input, “especially on the fuel matrix,” from an oil industry controlled research organization. Of the...
Ten Clean Energy Stocks through 10/31/18

Ten Clean Energy Stocks For 2018: Terraform, Clearway, and Enviva

by Tom Konrad Ph.D., CFA Last week, I neglected to discuss Terraform Power (NASD: TERP) in the third quarter update on the other ten clean energy stocks for 2018.  I did not notice the omission until after the post had been published, so I decided to write a quick follow-up this week after I had a chance to digest the earnings announcements (including TERP's) which were scheduled for later in the week. Stock discussion Clearway Energy, Inc (NYSE: CWEN and CWEN/A) 12/31/17 Price: $18.90 / $18.85.  Annual Dividend: $1.133(6.0%). Expected 2018 dividend: $1.26(6.7%)  Low Target: $14.  High Target: $25.  10/31/18 Price: $19.61/$19.42  ...
decarbonization

Green New Deal Roadmap – Accelerating Renewable Energy Infrastructure Development

Investment in renewable energy is rising, but clearly needs to grow faster to meet the goals for an expedited transition away from carbon infrastructure if we are to avoid dangerous climate change, given that now even the Trump administration forecasts a 7°C increase by 2100, which would be catastrophic. The Paris Agreement determined that in order to keep warming below 2°C, the global economy would need to be restricted to a 600 gigaton carbon “budget”, and completely decarbonize by 2040. Emissions must be cut by 70% in the Paris-congruent Remap case, and 90% of those cuts in energy-related CO2 emissions can...
To Renewable Diesel

Conversions To Renewable Diesel

by Helena Tavares Kennedy The seasons are changing in many parts of the world right now, but what really is changing this autumn is how the world is looking at renewable diesel. Phillips 66 and REG’s announcement about a new renewable diesel plant on the U.S. West Coast planned for 2021 comes after a notable increase in refineries that are being converted and changed over to renewable diesel. Change is good, especially in this case. As Bob Dylan sang, “For the loser now, Will be later to win, For the times they are a-changin’.” And who knew he was singing about the RFS...
Ten Clean Energy Stocks through 10/31/18

Ten Clean Energy Stocks For 2018: Third Quarter Earnings

Tom Konrad Ph.D., CFA After a fairly brutal September and October my Ten Clean Energy Stocks model portfolio is barely hanging on to positive territory for the year (up 2.4%) as is the private portfolio I manage, the Green Global Equity Income Portfolio (GGEIP, up 0.8%).  Yet I can take comfort in superior relative performance, since my broad dividend income benchmark SDY is now down 0.1% for the year, and the clean energy income benchmark YLCO has fallen 5.8%.  All returns are total return after fees and dividends. The strong relative performance in a weak market is most likely due to...