Monthly Archives: September 2011

A New Way to Skin the Renewable Energy Cat

Tom Konrad CFA It's not often that I come across a new type of renewable energy and think, "This could really work."  But that's what I thought when I heard the concept for the downdraft tower proposed by Clean Wind Energy Tower (CWET.OB.) First, a couple caveats.  The concept is not new, it's been around 25 years in draft form. The physics is simple.  Build a very tall, hollow tower in a hot, dry climate; cool the air at the top with a mist of water (even salt water will work), and capture the resulting energy...

Fulcrum Bioenergy’s $115M IPO: The 10-Minute Version

Jim Lane The first zero-cost feedstock biofuels company comes to the public markets with its IPO. Like to see how this “Back the the Futuresque” technology unlocks value by converting household garbage into transportation fuel? Here’s our 10-minute version of the IPO from Fulcrum Bioenergy. In California, Fulcrum Bioenergy has filed an S-1 registration statement for a proposed $115 million initial public offering. The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the offering have not yet been determined. The company proposes to list under the symbol FLCM. UBS Investment Bank...

US Still Net Exporter of Solar to China

by Clean Energy Intel Following the announcement that CIGS solar start-up Solyndra had declared Chapter 11, I published an article suggesting that although this was clearly not good news, the overall solar sector in the US was still in relatively good competitive shape, with a healthy trade surplus with the rest of the world of some $1.9bn. You can read my original article here. Although competition from China is intense, particularly in low-cost module production, the US remains a strong player across the supply chain as a whole - particularly in polysilicon production and the manufacture of the...

Plug-in Vehicles Have Been Weighed in the Balance and Found Wanting

John Petersen A comment from maxkilmachina recently drew my attention to an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences titled Valuation of plug-in vehicle life-cycle air emissions and oil displacement benefits. While it costs $10 to download the article and supporting documentation, I believe it's worthwhile for all serious energy storage and electric vehicle investors because the underlying study is the first comprehensive total cost of ownership analysis I've seen that includes both direct end-user costs and identifiable externalities like emissions, military and other indirect costs arising from oil consumption in the US. While all...

Top 5 Things Cleantech Entrepreneurs Fail to Understand About Raising Capital

David Gold After decades of venture capital investment, growth and exit, the traditional focus areas of venture capital (such as IT, web and software) have developed strong entrepreneurial ecosystems. A high percentage of start-ups in these traditional areas come to market with one or more experienced entrepreneurs or with a strong and active network of investors/advisors who have “been there, done that.”   They know what it takes to raise capital and to build a great fast-growing business.  Cleantech companies, however, are much more likely to be led by first-time entrepreneurs who often struggle to create an ecosystem of...

Elevance’s $100M IPO: The 10-Minute Version

Jim Lane Like to quickly understand the surge in renewable chemicals and one of the hottest companies in the hottest sector of the bioconomy? Here’s our 10-minute version of the IPO from Elevance Renewable Sciences. Complete with the risks, translated into English from the original SEC-speak. In Illinois, Elevance Renewable Sciences filed its S-1 registration statement relating to a proposed $100 million initial public offering. The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the offering have not yet been determined. The company indicated that it has apply to list the stock on NASDAQ under the ERSI symbol. The...

Mascoma’s IPO: The 10-Minute version

Jim Lane No appetite for 200 pages of IPO-speak in Mascoma’s S-1 registration statement? Here’s our 10-minute version. In Massachusetts, Mascoma Corporation announced that it has filed an S-1 registration statement relating to a proposed $100 million initial public offering. The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the offering have not yet been determined, and the company has not indicated yet which exchange it will apply to for a listing of its shares. Here’s the S-1 registration, in a conveniently downsized 10-minute Digest version – with some commentary along the way...

Two High Yield Energy Efficiency Stocks with a Free Call Option on Housing

Tom Konrad CFA It's no secret that the housing market is in the doldrums.  New housing starts in August fell to an annual rate of 571,000, and fewer homes were under construction since record keeping began in 1970.  This has taken a toll on energy efficiency stocks in the housing sector, leading to some very attractive pricing in two of my favorites. Waterfurnace Renewable Energy (WFI.TO / WFIFF.PK) I've long been fan of Waterfurnace, an Indiana-based manufacturer of ground source and water-source heat pumps.  A note from a reader Wednesday prompted me to poll...

Jinko Collapses 28% Amidst Environmental Crisis

by Clean Energy Intel Shares in JinkoSolar Holdings (JKS) fell a full 28% yesterday after the company was forced to idle its manufacturing facility in Haining following three days of protests over allegations that the facility has been polluting the local river. The difficulties relate to one of the company's wholly-owned subsidiaries, Zhejiang Jinko, and the company has now admitted that the local environmental protection authority is investigating the allegations that the company has been discharging hazardous waste into a river: "There have been reports that Zhejiang Jinko Co., Ltd. ("Zhejiang Jinko"), a wholly owned subsidiary...

The Hypocrisy of Solar Energy’s Critics

Garvin Jabusch The fossil fuel apologists in the U.S. are of course relentless in their criticism of the solar energy industry. Now with the JinkoSolar (JKS) fluoride spill, though, their hypocrisy is on full display. Earlier this month, they started talking about how Solyndra's failure means the whole solar concept is flawed (it's not), and how solar doesn't work (it does) and how it's not competitive (it is). Now, JinkoSolar, having spilled fluoride into a river in Haining province, China, is the new whipping boy. The issue though...

Westport: Likely Beneficiary Of A Potential Quadrupling Of US Natural Gas Vehicles Sales by...

by Clean Energy Intel Companies with significant exposure to the market for natural gas transportation have obviously received a lot of attention recently following the announcement last week of a co-marketing agreement for LNG transportation between oil major Shell (RDS-A) and Westport (WPRT), a provider of natural gas engine technology. This makes the release of Pike's new annual global sales forecasts for natural gas vehicles particularly timely and worth a look. According to Pike Research, there are currently 12.6 million natrual gas vehicles (NGVs) in the world. These are mainly located in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa....

ReneSola Share Repurchase Program Starts Slowly

by Clean Energy Intel Late last month, I discussed the fact that in another sign of the undervaluation in the Solar sector, the Board of Renesola (SOL) had authorized a $100m share repurchase program. On the day of the company's announcement, its stock price was down 66% on the year. You can read more detail on the original share repurchase program and the related shareholder rights program here. As a follow-up to the original announcement, Renesola has now released details of the progress that has so far been made in executing the program. The Company itself has purchased 645,424 American Depositary Shares...

The Shell-Westport Deal – Demers Interview Underlines the Risk For Clean Energy Fuels

by Clean Energy Intel Following the deal between Westport Innovations (WPRT), provider of natural gas engine technology, and Shell (RDS-A) on a co-marketing agreement for natural gas solutions for the trucking industry in North America, Westport CEO David Demers gave an interview on CNBC's Mad Money. You can read more about the original co-marketing deal here. The bottom line is that this commitment from a major oil company will no doubt spur the use of natural gas in the transportation sector. However, it may well represent simply too much competition for the smaller Clean Energy Fuels (CLNE). Again, see more detail here. Following...

Shell Deal Great For Westport But Not For Clean Energy Fuels

by Clean Energy Intel Westport Innovations (WPRT), provider of natural gas engine technology, received a major boost following the announcement of a co-marketing program with Royal Dutch Shell (RDS-A). Understandably, Westport itself rose 19.4% on the day. Perhaps less understandable was the 13.2% rise seen by Clean Energy Fuels (CLNE). The agreement between Westport and Shell launches a co-marketing program in North America aimed at providing an integrated commercial solution for customers in the natural gas vehicle field. You can read a full description of the program in the press statement from Westport here. In essence, the agreement aims "at providing...

After Solyndra and Evergreen, Welcome to the Age of Solar PV Commoditization (And 5...

by Tor Valenza a.k.a. “Solar Fred” It’s official. With the bankruptcies of Solyndra and Evergreen, two solar panel companies with unique premium solar PV technologies, the Market with a capital M hath spoken: “Solar PV manufacturers, we, the purchasers of solar PV, do hereby care more about price than any fancy innovation. Just give us the best quality panel for the lowest $/watt, thank you very much.” String ribbon doesn’t matter. Cylindrical CIGS film doesn’t matter. Even made in America doesn’t matter unless it's at a competitive price. Apparently, all the Market wants to know are the...

Evergreen Solar and Solyndra Fail: Is Wall Street’s Hatred of the Solar Industry Still...

Garvin Jabusch Much has been made this week about the nearly contemporaneous bankruptcy filings of two American solar companies, Silicon Valley’s Solyndra and Evergreen Solar (formerly ESLR) out of Massachusetts. These two had something in common: Both made different types of photovoltaic (PV) panels and both were more expensive than average PV. These two firms did not fail because they manufactured in America, or because solar itself is untenable (on the contrary), but primarily because they were deploying advanced technology that ultimately could not find enough of a market to achieve the scale required to become profitable. It's...