Monthly Archives: November 2009

Green Energy Investing For Beginners: Index

Tom Konrad, CFA I write about investing in Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, and other green technologies because I'm worried.  I'm worried that the inevitable transition away from fossil fuels driven by peaking supply and climate change could be much more painful than it needs to be because, as a society, we have massively underinvested in the infrastructure that we will need for the transition. I don't care if my readers are motivated by an altruistic wish to make the world a better place, or they just want to cash in on what promises to be the hottest stock market...

Green Energy Investing For Beginners, Part IV: Model Portfolio

Tom Konrad, CFA My target sector allocation for Green Energy Sectors: How much to put in Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Biomass, Biofuels, Energy Efficiency, Alternative Transport, and enabling technologies such as Smart Grid and Transmission. In Part I of this series on green energy investing (see also Part II and Part III), I suggested readers "structure your portfolio to reflect the technologies which are actually going to make a difference."  This is not the same as investing in a market portfolio, because the market tends to overemphasize the most exciting or familiar (as opposed to the most useful) technologies.  This...

Lithium Ion Batteries And GEVs Are Faith-based Cures for Oil Addiction

John Petersen Last Tuesday a reader sent me a copy of "Ending the ICE Age," a new industry overview from Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich on the future of plug-in vehicles, which the newly organized Electrification Coalition has christened grid enabled vehicles, or GEVs. After spending several hours studying the report I concluded that Mr. Milunovich has found the true religion of the new millennium while I'm still an unwashed pagan, or worse yet a heretic. The grim reality is that when you look at American energy policy as a faith-based initiative,...

Smart Grid Sector Gaining Traction from Stimulus Funds

Digi International Positioned for Growthby Joyce Pellino CraneCaught between a maturing sector and a nascent one, Digi International, Inc., (Nasdaq:DGII) is stirring opposition among research analysts, who view its recent acquisitions as either a brazen entry into an emerging area, or a compensatory cover for poor performance.Over the past five years, the company has ventured into the smart grid sector through several acquisitions of wireless and cellular technology companies. One industry observer, who did not want to be quoted, said acquisitions artificially increase revenues during a down economy.  Another, who asked not to be identified, said the Digi...

Wind Works Power Corp

A Bet on Wind Industry Growth Tom Konrad, CFA Wind Works Power Corporation (WWPW.OB) presents investors in publicly traded wind power stocks a new type of opportunity with the potential for high reward, and a complementary risk profile to existing plays.   In the past, I've lamented the dearth of choice in publicly traded wind power stocks on North American markets, but both the number and types of opportunities are growing, allowing investors to diversify risk or to make more narrowly focused bets on how they expect the sector to evolve. I classify wind stocks into three types: Wind...

Is the New Smart Grid ETF GRID All That Smart?

Tom Konrad, CFA First Trust Launched a Grid Infrastructure Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) on November 17th.  Although the First Trust Nasdaq Clean Edge Smart Grid Infrastructure Index Fund (Nasdaq: GRID) is labeled a "Smart Grid" ETF to capture popular excitement around smart grid technology, it covers the whole grid infrastructure sector.  This broader focus is good for clean energy investors. I've been an advocate of investing in electric transmission and smart gird stocks since early 2007, and for almost a year now, a regular reader has been telling me to create a transmission ETF so he can buy...

Bold or Bogus? Digi International’s Move toward Smart Grid Technology

Research Analyst Bucks NaysayersBy Joyce Pellino CraneJay M. Meier may be out on a lonely limb, but the senior research analyst at Feltl and Company is unwavering in his enthusiasm for Digi International, Inc. (Nasdaq:DGII)Meier is recommending Digi as a buy, insisting that the company is undervalued given its potential for growth in the smart grid sector.“The company is woefully undervalued,” he said, “and it’s probably going to start growing in the second half of 2010 as evidenced by all the smart grid technology it has...”But other research analysts are not so sure. I spoke with two who...

Digi International Acquisitions Since 2005

This timeline is intended as a supplement to the article: Bold or Bogus? Digi International’s Move toward Smart Grid Technology.Source: The Investor Relations Group, New York, NYApril 2005 - FS Forth-Systeme GmbH/Sistemas Embebidos S.A. (FS Forth), providers of embedded modules based on the company's processors and NET+OS software, as well as other microprocessors with supporting embedded software. May 2005 - acquired Rabbit Semiconductor® Inc. (formerly Z-World™, Inc.). The acquisition expanded Digi's embedded portfolio to include the Rabbit line of microprocessors and microprocessor-based core modules and Z-World single-board computers (now all sold under the Rabbit brand). July 2006 - acquired MaxStream®,...

Grid Enabled Vehicles – I Told You So!

John Petersen On Monday of this week the Electrification Coalition, a newly organized industrial lobby that styles itself as a "nonpartisan, not-for-profit group of business leaders committed to promoting policies and actions that facilitate the deployment of electric vehicles on a mass scale in order to combat the economic, environmental, and national security dangers caused by our nation’s dependence on petroleum" released a 170 page policy paper titled, "Electrification Roadmap, Revolutionizing Transportation and Achieving Energy Security." Like most industrial lobbies jostling for position at the Federal trough, the coalition's core membership includes a baker's dozen...

The Case For Transmission, and Transmission Stock List

by Tom Konrad CFA We cannot choose between transmission and renewable distributed electricity.  Local renewable generation requires long distance transmission to even out variations of supply.  Hence, both advocates of distributed renewables and large wind and solar farms should support transmission improvements.  Here are a few stocks which should benefit from such investments. Shortly after I launched Clean Energy Wonk, Blogger took the site down because I made the mistake of including both the words "Cheap" and "Free" in the title of an article about Energy Efficiency.  Since it can apparently take up to 2 months for a human...

Green Energy Investing For Beginners, Part III: Before You Invest

Tom Konrad, CFA Before you consider green stock market investments, invest in yourself. A reader of my article on asset allocation for green energy investors brought up an important point: we may have green opportunities in our own lives, such as improving the energy efficiency of our homes, which will return much safer and higher returns than green stocks, especially when the market as a whole is as overvalued as I currently believe it is. Homeowners typically have a large number of high-return energy efficiency investments they can make.  Since energy efficiency reduces energy use, it both produces returns...

Is Ruggedcom, Inc. as Solid as its Networks?

Tom Konrad, CFA Our recent article on Ruggedcom's (RUGGF.PK, RMC.TO) technology for a smart grid that's also robust against a number of threats such as cyberterrorism and electromagnetic pulses prompted a long-time reader to ask if we also think it's a good investment at these prices. Good question.  As outlined in the article, Ruggedcom, Inc. has a robust business providing ruggedized routers for mission-critical networks, including electric utilities growing smart grids.  But not every great business is also a great stock. What Makes a Great Stock There are several things I look for in a great stock, and a...

Interview with Ray C. Anderson, of Interface Inc.

Tom Konrad, CFARay Anderson, the pioneering founder and Chairman of Interface, Inc. (IFSIA) was an early pioneer of sustainable enterprise.  We recently had the opportunity to interview him on the benefits he sees for investors from corporate sustainability (full transcript follows.)I've recently been thinking about corporate sustainability (in the green sense) and how it relates to  corporate sustainability (in the business survival sense.)  Since I expect business conditions to be more difficult in the coming years than they have been in the past, any edge in resilience a company might gain from pursuing sustainability may be useful, both on...

Green Energy Investing For Beginners, Part II: How Much To Invest

Tom Konrad, CFA In Green Energy Investing for Beginners, Part I, gave information to guide the choice of green investment vehicles (mutual funds, ETFs, or stocks.) This article is intended to help investors decide how much of their money to put into those vehicles. An informed decision of how much to invest in green energy is at least as important as how you make the investment.  The choice between green Exhange Traded Funds (ETFs) and green Mutual funds rests on a difference of about one percent per year, caused by differences in fees.  Yet in the first three quarters...

Electricity and Water– Can We Have Both? 

by John V. AndersonThe Water-Electricity Connection: Basic Principles There’s been a lot of discussion – and a fair amount of controversy – lately about water use in power plants. Unfortunately a lot of this discussion is based on an incomplete understanding of the fundamental issues involved. First of all, virtually all of the non-hydro power we consume is generated by heat engines of one sort or another. All heat engines absorb energy from a hot source (e.g. a flame, nuclear core, or solar), and they all reject energy to a cold sink – that is they...

Tres Amigas Proposes Three-way Transmission Link

by Michael Giberson If completed, the Tres Amigas project will encourage renewable power development and efficient power flows.  Publicly traded wind power and superconducting cable company American Superconductor Corp. (Nasdaq: AMSC) is a large minority shareholder and the planned supplier. Tres Amigas LLC has proposed building a three-way superconducting HVDC link between the three separate power systems that span the United States and much of Canada: the Eastern Interconnection, the Western Interconnection, and the Texas (ERCOT) Interconnection.  The three systems currently are linked by a small number of separate and relatively unimportant DC interties.  The proposed three-way...