LATEST ARTICLES

The MacArthur Foundation Invests In Climate Solutions- And In Fossil Fuels

By Marc Gunther.  Eighteen months ago, the people who manage the endowment at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation got some bad news: Investments they had made in funds managed by EnerVest, a Houston-based private equity firm that operates more than 33,000 oil and gas wells across the US, had plummeted in value to almost nothing. The losses were small, relatively speaking — roughly $15 million, a fraction of the foundation’s $7 billion endowment — but they were unwelcome, if only because they called attention to the fact that MacArthur, whose mission is, famously, to build a “more just, verdant and peaceful world,” had...
5 year performance

Ten Clean Energy Stocks For 2018: Wrap Up

by Tom Konrad Ph.D., CFA Almost every major index fell in 2018.  My Ten Clean Energy Stocks model portfolio and the Green Global Equity Income Portfolio (GGEIP), the real-money portfolio that I manage were not exceptions.  Still, I'm satisfied with their performance: the model portfolio lost only 1.3 percent for the year, while GGEIP was down 2.6 percent.  That's well ahead of most indexes, including my benchmarks YLCO (down 7.8 percent) and SDY (down 4.1%.)  These benchmarks are intended to reflect the performance of clean energy dividend stocks and general of dividend stocks, respectively.  Non-income oriented indexes such as the...
autonom taxi

Ten Clean Energy Stocks For 2019

by Tom Konrad Ph.D., CFA Looking forward to 2019, I'm more optimistic than I have been since the start of 2016, in the wake of the popping of the YieldCo Bubble in late 2015. The bear market that started in late 2018 seems like it's far from over, but I expect in early 2019 will see it enter a less chaotic phase.  After the wild declines and swings of late 2018, I expect investors will begin the new year with an eye to safety more than growth.  This means that the clean energy income stocks which are my focus should outperform...

Less Well Known Autonomous Car Stocks

Car manufacturers have fully embraced self-driving or autonomous cars.  It is not because they have heard a loud clamor for such technology from consumers.  No, automakers are keen on the idea because manufacture of self-driving cars could help them overcome the short comings of highly cyclical sales pattern associated with its car dependent upon a single driver.  In other words, they are in it for themselves whether consumers benefit or not. If consumers are not so important, at least investors should benefit. Besides the car manufacturers there are a few smaller companies that can give investors a taste of the self-driving car phenomenon. LiDar and...

Manufacturers Going All Out for Self-driving Car Tech

There is a clutch of self-driving cars and cars with autonomous driving features on the market today.  Drivers just cannot seem to get enough of them.  Apparently, the idea of zooming down the highway with little to no responsibility holds considerable appeal.  Then again, maybe it is the novelty of the idea that will eventually give way to the next fad. In August 2018, Cox Automotive revealed the results of a survey that found fewer Americans are embracing self-driving technology than previously thought.  A surprising 49% of respondents said they would NEVER own a fully-autonomous car.  This is up from 30% naysayers two years ago. Views...

10 Solar Hopes For 2019

by Paula Mints Ten things to hope for in 2019, and their odds of coming true. 1) Accelerated focus on climate change: It’s not enough to talk climate change, or promise action – action must be taken and though it will take lifestyle changes now, and will have an economic impact now, the cost of attempting to survive climate change is higher. Make no mistake, it’s survival, not reversal. Odds: Low – when the bill for change comes due even true believers will balk, when a change in behavior is required, most find this difficult, and when the entrenched technology or industry feels...

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...