Monthly Archives: October 2008

Lithium Technology Corporation (LTHU.PK)

Quite a while ago, I promised readers that  I'd write an article looking into Lithium Technology Corporation (LTHU.PK,) in addition to articles I've already written on US Geothermal (HTM) and Evergreen Solar (ESLR)  Lithium Tech is a provider of custom lithium rechargeable batteries for military, national security, stationary power, and transportation applications.  Investors hoping for the big score probably have their eyes on the transportation applications, which should drive demand for lithium-ion batteries over the next decade.  That's all wonderful, but since August, we've had a financial meltdown, prompting me to focus much more on companies' need to raise...

Wise Energy Use Stocks, Part 6: Smartgrid Pioneers

Companies taking steps towards the Smart Grid: Xcel Energy, Duke Energy, Whirlpool, Samsung Electronics, and Freescale Semiconductor.

Trading Alert: EarthFirst Canada (ERFTF.PK or EF.TO)

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article on the upcoming Clean Power Call in the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC). In a nutshell, the Clean Power Call consists of an auction conducted by the government-owned integrated power company to award long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) to private wind developers. This is the model that has dominated in Canadian wind power so far. The notable thing about this model is that the PPA facilitates access to financing significantly for successful bidders, since the counterparty is a proxy of a credit-worthy government. EarthFirst Canada (EF) (ERFTF.PK or EF.TO)...

Wise Energy Use Stocks, Part 5:Global Services Companies

General Electric (GE), Honeywell (HON), IBM, Johnson Controls (JCI), Siemens (SI)

Keynes Meets Carson, And How You Can Invest It (Part 1)

I'm not sure whether John Maynard Keynes, the father of Keynesian economics and an ardent proponent of government interventionism during hard economic times, and Rachel Carson, the mother of modern environmentalism and the author whose work is credited for the eventual creation of the EPA, ever met during their lifetimes. But if current voter sentiment holds until November 4, their ideas could soon converge and form the basis of government policy for at least the next four years. Let me explain. First, John Maynard Keynes. There is no doubt that the deliberate and coordinated nationalization of financial services...

Wise Energy Use Stocks Part 4: Metering and Energy Management

A look at Itron, Echelon, Woodward Governor, EnerNOC, and Energy Recovery

Wise Energy Use Stocks Part 3: Electric Vehicles

Either or both lean economic times and high oil prices are likely to lead to lower use of cars over the next few years, and this will likely weigh on car companies.

Cleantech Venture Capitalists Beware – What You Don’t Know About Energy Can Kill You

Oil prices quietly (at least in the cleantech world), slipped below $80 last week, off some 50% from their highs a few months ago. Did I say 50%? Yes 50%. And gas has slipped, too, as with some variations, natural gas historically trades at a roughly 10:1 price ratio of Barrels to MCF. It's easy to get caught up in the cleantech hype and forget that only 10 years ago this year oil prices fell two thirds, caught between rising supply from a decade of drilling and nasty Asian flu, triggered in part by, wait, a financial debt...

Wise Energy Use Stocks: Efficient Lighting

Opportunity On Friday, October 10, 2008 , I stopped being bearish for the first time since the 1990s.  My long term expectation of a crash that didn't come had been undermining my self confidence.  Even the decline in 2001 and 2002 had not seemed severe enough, given the financial imbalances in the system.  I had begun to worry that I might be genetically bearish, and that my worries had nothing to do with a market that was greatly overvalued. I am relieved to say that I am not a permabear, and that the market as a...

The Week In Cleantech (Oct. 5 to Oct. 11) – Move Away From Pure-plays...

In General Industry News, The Wall Street Journal's Environmental Capital told us about the Green Meltdown. There is no doubt that alternative energy stocks have a rough ride ahead of them. On the one hand, revenue-less companies whose business model is heavily leveraged to technological innovation may not be able to access sufficient funding to go on for an extensive period of time. On the other hand, business models that rely on cheap credit and large amounts of debt, like large wind and solar parks, will get squeezed by credit tightness. In Environmental Markets, McKinsey discussed...

AltEnergyStocks.com Endorses Barack Obama in the U.S. Presidential Race

With about a month to go to the 2008 presidential election campaign, and after two presidential and one vice-presidential debates, we have heard enough from both tickets on the issue of energy to make up our mind on an official endorsement, an issue we do not take lightly. John McCain's and Barack Obama's stances on energy can seem very similar to the casual observer. Both candidates support a cap on carbon emissions, and both tend to argue for "All of the Above" when asked about specific forms of energy. But there are key differences: 1....

Wise Energy Use Stocks for Troubled Times

Part 1: Introduction In a financial world where there seems to be little hope, I see a bright spot in energy efficiency.  This is because energy efficiency improvements pay for themselves in a very short time, in addition to being the best thing we can do for energy security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Given the current financial crisis, I also believe that investors should focus on companies with strong balance sheets, which will be able to internally fund their investment needs for the next couple years. While I was making the above case, Energy Tech Stocks introduced their...

My Portfolio’s Latest Casualty And Addition

The Casualty Last Monday, I discussed how I had recently reviewed Railpower Tech with a view to potentially adding to my position on grounds that: (a) the company had a fair amount of cash in the bank, which reduced the need to go to capital markets for financing for a while; and (b) that it was getting badly battered by general market conditions, potentially offering an attractive entry point. Although my portfolio has taken a beating in recent weeks, I remain ready to take small positions in stocks if I feel they are being unfairly bashed, including in...

The Light at the End of the Tunnel is Energy Efficient

The Solar Investment Tax Credit has been extended, and the market for mortgage debt "rescued," but neither renewable energy nor the rest of the economy are out of the woods.  We'll probably be feeling the effects of the financial imbalances which have built up in our economy for years to come. While the extension of the tax credit will help renewable energy technologies raise funding, the headwinds from the continued fallout of the structured finance and real estate bubble will be blowing in the other direction.  This will be a problem both for developers of new technologies, and...

What I Sold: Electro Energy, Inc. (NASD:EEEI)

Of all the stocks I've sold in response to the market turmoil, Electro Energy was the most painful to sell, both emotionally and financially.    The sale was painful emotionally because I've been recommending this company for a year (albeit with the caveat that it was a speculative bet.)  In each article I wrote I said something along the lines of "If EEEI can obtain financing..." Now even investment grade companies have serious trouble obtaining financing.  If an outside company is interested in EEEI's manufacturing assets or technology, there is little reason for them to buy EEEI stock.  Any outside...

Concentrated Solar Power and the New ITC

When the financial turmoil began, I sold my riskiest stocks.  Even a successful bailout bill is unlikely to return us to the heady days of 2006 and 2007.  Yet there is a bright side for clean energy investors.  Despite the recent evidence to the contrary, a financial crisis is likely to convince legislators of the importance of getting the economy going again, and of doing so with the least amount of public money possible. Concentrating Solar Power It was with this thought in mind that I attended CSP Today's Second Annual CSP Summit US in San Francisco. ...