Monthly Archives: October 2010

Green Chip Stocks’ “Sunless Solar” Tease

Tom Konrad Last week, Stock Gumshoe sleuthed out Jeff Seigel's recent tease of a "$0.62 Company Just Perfected Sunless Solar.”  The company is New Energy Technologies (NENE.OB), which was trading at $1.20 after the close on Friday.  Here's what the Gumshoe has to say about the company: And of course, maybe Siegel’s right, maybe these guys will be to First Solar what IBM was to Smith Corona … I’m just not holding my breath. For more information on the company, which did stage a demonstration of the technology in Tampa last month, you can certainly visit...

Watching The EV Rose Wilt

John Petersen October has been a fun month for me as JD Power and Associates rained on the electric vehicle parade with a new report "Green Drive 2020; More Hope than Reality?" that forecast a 1.8% global market penetration rate for cars with plugs in 2020; Maxwell Technologies (MXWL) announced a design win in the automotive stop-start market; Pike Research issued a new report on power systems for hybrid locomotives; Nanomarkets LLC reported that lead-carbon batteries will be a leading contender in the $1 billion wind-power storage market; Lux Research began advertising an upcoming webinar to introduce their...

Amyris’ “Fene Economy”

by Debra Fiakas CFA There are not many companies with the courage to stage an initial public offering, but renewable chemicals and materials producer Amyris, Inc. (AMRS:  Nasdaq) was undaunted.  The company sold 5.3 million shares at $16.00 earlier this month, raising $78.8 million in net proceeds.  Amyris has done fairly well in raising capital.  In December 2009, the Department of Energy awarded Amyris a $25.0 million grant to build a pilot plant that will produce diesel and petrochemical substitutes through the fermentation of sweet sorghum.  Then Temasek Holdings invested $47.8 million into the company. The Amyris vision...

Why America Must Focus On Domestic Energy Solutions Instead of Imports

John Petersen On September 17th, the White House released a report titled, 100 Recovery Act Projects That Are Changing America. Since the report included eight companies that were awarded a total of $1.1 billion in ARRA battery manufacturing and vehicle electrification grants in August 2009, I created the following table to summarize the first tier job creation impact. As I pondered over the relatively high cost per first tier manufacturing job, I decided it might be better to look at the overall value chain including second tier job creation impacts (new jobs in companies that...

Buying Green Stocks Pays, but Finding Green in Brown Pays More

Tom Konrad CFA Although green stocks did better than un-green (or brown) stocks since Newsweek's 2009 Green Rankings were published, the big winners were the greenest stocks in the brownest sectors. Newsweek has released its 2010 Green Rankings for America's 500 largest corporations, and the companies at the top of the list are happily gloating about being greener than their rivals.  More important to investors is the question: Do the greenest companies beat the market? Marc Gunther notes that the top 100 companies in the 2009 Green Rankings outperformed the S&P 500 by 6.8%.  ...

Maxwell Announces An Important Stop-Start Design Win

John Petersen On October 20th, Maxwell Technologies (MXWL) announced that it has commenced volume deliveries of BOOSTCAP® ultracapacitors to Continental AG (CTTAY.PK) for use in a new stop-start idle elimination system for diesel passenger cars made by PSA Peugeot-Citroen (PEUGY.PK). According to Continental, Peugeot-Citroen plans to sell about a million cars equipped with this technology over the next three years. While the Maxwell design win has been rumored for months, it's great to have confirmation that stop-start is here, it's now and it will become a major new energy storage market over the next three to five years....

Ormat Technologies (ORA): The 500-Pound Gorilla of Geothermal Power

Tom Konrad, CFA  Ormat is the 500-pound gorilla of the geothermal power industry.  Should you buy the stock? I've owned Ormat Technologies (NYSE:ORA) stock off and on since I first began to invest seriously in clean energy companies.  At one of the first renewable energy conferences I attended five years ago as part of my quest to understand the renewable energy investing landscape, I encountered a representative of the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA).  Here's how I recall our conversation: Me: "What are a few of the leading geothermal power companies?" GEA Rep: "Ormat." Me: "Are they...

The Rodney Dangerfield of Cleantech

David Gold Wind turbines stand tall and mesmerize with their motion. Solar cells bask in the sparkling sun.  Meanwhile, hidden down in the dark dirty underworld, a compelling technology sits quietly and gets no respect.  Once installed it largely goes unseen and, it seems, it’s equally invisible in the world of clean technology press, venture funding and government R&D funding.  Yet this technology provides some of the most intriguing economic returns available for reducing a building’s net energy consumption and I would welcome the right opportunity to fund an exciting business in this category. What is this Rodney Dangerfield...

Understanding Implementation Timelines for Energy Storage Applications

John Petersen I've been writing this blog on pure-play energy storage companies for a little over two years. Initially I focused on broad themes like the importance of price and performance and the fact that every industry must master the baby steps before it can try to run. Over time the analysis got increasingly granular as I focused on individual applications instead of the industry as a whole. While I occasionally revisit basic themes like I did in last fall's Battery Investing for Beginners series, I worry that overly technical discussions of applications are not as useful for...

Ten Green Gambles for 2010: Q3 Update

Tom Konrad CFA To my surprise, the market came back in the 3rd Quarter, and my portfolio of put options designed to hedge a market decline is predictably down.  However, my benchmark (a put against the Dow Jones Industrials has performed even worse than my picks.) I don't have a lot to say about the performance of my Ten Green Gambles for 2010 so far this year.  These gambles were a bet on a market decline in 2010.  Since we're now into the 4th quarter and the market is still...

Geothermal Stocks Overview

Tom Konrad CFA Geothermal power generation has several advantages over higher profile alternative energy such as wind and solar, but gets much less attention.  Part of the lack of recognition for Geothermal power arises from a confusion with the technology variously called Geoexchange, Ground Source Heat Pump, or Geothermal Heat Pumps.  Geoexchange uses the near constant temperature of the soil a few feet to a few hundred feet below the ground to heat and cool a building.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Geoexchange is the most efficient way to heat and cool a building, and...

Battery Manufacturers, Burger Joints and Secret Sauce

John Petersen In September I received an e-mail from France Innovation Scientifique & Transfert SA advertising their new IP Overview of Lithium Metal Phosphate Batteries - 2010/04. While I don't usually pay attention to e-mail pitches for costly reports, the FIST solicitation caught my eye because the abstract explained that roughly 1,100 patent applications have been filed for lithium metal phosphate chemistry since Dr. Goodenough's key patent issued in 1996. It's enough to give a guy a whole new perspective on this T-shirt from EV World. It also raises a couple critical issues that many...

Finer System Level Details for the Comparison of Photovoltaic Technologies

by Joseph McCabe, PE In our last article  "Metrics for Thin Film Solar CIGS Company Comparisons," we alluded to finer system level details in the comparison of photovoltaic (PV) technologies and promised this follow up article on the subject. System level details begin with the PV modules themselves. Band gap, temperature corrections  and fill factor are just some of the finer technology details, all slightly related in that they can produce system performance differences when comparing similar PV technologies. Band gap is the quantum-level point where the PV technology absorbs photons. Think of the...

The Four Best Peak Oil Investments

Tom Konrad CFA The best four stocks I've found in my six month quest to find the best peak oil investments. I apologize for being a tease.  Since March, I've been writing this series I've called "The Best Peak Oil Investments," but in many cases what I've actually done is to warn readers to stay away from particular sectors.  This bait-and-switch was compounded for my syndicated readers at Seeking Alpha when their editors decided to re-title the early articles in this series "Peak Oil Investments I'm Putting My Money On."  If you've stuck...

Interview: Jeff Siegel’s Predictions for Renewable Energy and Solar Stocks

by Garfield Hodgson Jeff Siegel, a top renewable energy investor recently took time out from his very busy schedule to grant an interview with Garfield Hodgson of Total Solar Energy (TSE). If you don't know Jeff, he runs the newsletter Green Chip Stocks, an independent investment research service that focuses primarily on renewable energy and organic & natural food markets. TSE: Hi Jeff. Thanks for your time. Can you tell me when you first got started in solar stocks? Jeff: I had actually been an advocate of solar energy ever since I did a high-school project...

Energy Storage, a Tough Year and a Mixed Quarter

John Petersen Quarterly updates are among my least favorite tasks because they focus on where the energy storage sector has been instead of where it's going. I still haven't developed a presentation format I like, but it feels like things are heading in the right direction. Reader comments and suggestions on how I can make these updates more useful are always appreciated. The 12-month performance for the energy storage sector was dismal and the only companies that currently trade above their September 30, 2009 closing prices are Active Power (ACPW) and Enersys (ENS). Most other companies in...