Monthly Archives: November 2011

Bagasse – the Big Prize

Jim Lane Like MSW? You’ll love bagasse. Lot of the advantages of waste, and there’s a lot more available.  Heaps of bagasse, covered with blue plastic, outside of a sugar mill in Proserpine, Queensland.  Image via Wikipedia. Sugar’s the new oil, DOE Secretary Steven Chu is fond of saying. Codexis agrees, but argues that sugarcane residue (instead of competing for cane syrup) is the path to the real riches. Petroleum – we all know what it is, but what does...

Time to Buy One of the Best Peak Oil Investments

Tom Konrad CFA The Euro crisis rolls out a bargain in the stock of a leading e-bike manufacturer. A little over a year ago, I concluded a 27 part series looking into non-oil stocks that might benefit from rising oil prices by picking what I thought were the four best stocks I had found in the process.  I had not yet bought any of the stocks picked because, as I said at the time, I personally do not...

Stop-start Idle Elimination Crossed The Chasm While Everyone Was Distracted

John Petersen John Lennon once quipped, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." A classic example of the phenomenon is the quiet emergence of stop-start idle elimination as standard equipment on new vehicles while politicians, pundits, the media and mechanical monkeys beat the drum and played the kazoo for the amazing EV sideshow. Stop-start is more than a vague promise of hope and change. It's a reality that's sweeping through the auto industry today and will conserve more gasoline in 2013 than all of the worlds HEVs and plug-in vehicles combined....

Bernstein and Ricardo Report: Cheap Will Beat Cool in Vehicle Electrification

John Petersen On September 26, 2011, Bernstein Research and Ricardo plc published a 450 page analytical report titled, "Global Autos: Don't Believe the Hype – Analyzing the Costs & Potential of Fuel-Efficient Technology," which combines best in class securities research from Bernstein with the deep automotive expertise of Ricardo, a global leader in engineering, product innovation and strategic consulting. The result is the most comprehensive, detailed and eminently reasonable forecast of short-, medium- and long-term trends in advanced automotive powertrain technology that I've had the pleasure to read. It's devoid of axe grinding or cheer-leading and...

Will LED Stocks Follow Solar Stocks Over the Commoditization Cliff?

Tom Konrad CFA One irony of green investing is that doing good (for the planet) does not always do well for investors.  Recently the rewards for do-gooders have been abysmal.  For years, I've been warning that the rapid price reductions we need to make solar mainstream are unlikely to be good for the profits of solar companies.  This year a combination of subsidy cuts in Europe and photovoltaic (PV) module oversupply brought those price reductions home to roost.  Recently, PV ...

Overcoming Hurdles to Clean Energy Commercialization

by David L. Levy In the absence of a global framework for regulating emissions, the future of the planet largely rests on choices by private firms and investors regarding which technologies to pursue and commercialize. Despite the mounting evidence of severe climate change, there is a funding crisis for potential solutions. The Department of Energy released data at the beginning of November showing that global emissions of CO2 rose 6% in 2010, despite the ongoing economic recession. This trajectory is higher than the worst case projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in it’s 2007 Fourth...

Stock Picks with a Whole Systems Approach

Tom Konrad CFA Picking the best energy services stocks. Fossil fuels are getting more expensive, but so are the industrial metals and other commodities used in the wind and solar farms with which we hope to replace them.   Meanwhile, government and personal budgets everywhere are under strain.  These economic imperatives make energy efficiency the one clean energy sector that may benefit despite rising denial about the existence of climate change among the US political elite and continued economic weakness. Energy efficiency represents the sort of true win-win-win in that it saves money, reduces the use...

BYD Testing The EV Market In China

Clean Energy Intel BYD at the Central China High-Tech Fair, Shenzhen, November 2009.  Source: Wikipedia / Brucke-Osteuropa. Over the course of the past few weeks we have seen a couple of noteworthy developments at Chinese auto maker BYD (BYDDF.PK). I have previously discussed the troubles at BYD, which by mid-September had taken the stock down 72% year to date. However, a couple of developments suggest that the Warren Buffet-backed automaker is at least worth keeping an eye on in the period ahead. In late October, the company opened its US ...

Electric Vehicles; Ineptitude, apathy … and piles of taxpayer money

John Petersen The last few weeks have been a media and political circus in the US as a pair of high-profile Department of Energy loan guarantees wound up in bankruptcy court. In the first case, solar power innovator Solyndra filed two years after closing a $535 million loan for a factory that never quite made it into production. In the second case, flywheel storage innovator Beacon Power (BCONQ.PK) filed about a year after scoring a $43 million loan for a 20 MW frequency regulation plant that was commissioned in June. Both are black eyes for the Obama administration’s...

BioAmber’s $150 Million IPO: The 10-Minute Version

Jim Lane A first-to-market leader in bio-succinic acid comes to the public markets with its IPO. Can BioAmber translate a lead in succinic acid’s smallish market into leadership in a vast array of high-priced renewable chemicals? Here’s our 10-minute version of the BioAmber IPO, with a translation of the risks into English. In Minnesota, BioAmber has filed an S-1 registration statement for a proposed $150 million initial public offering. The number of shares to be offered in the proposed offering and the price range for the offering have not yet been determined. The lead book-running managers for...

High Conviction Paired Trade – Short Tesla Motors And Buy Exide Technologies, The Sequel

John Petersen Last November I broke with tradition for the first time in over 30 years and suggested a paired trade that bought Exide Technologies (XIDE) and shorted Tesla Motors (TSLA). Over the following three months, investors who made the trade and bought four Exide shares while shorting one Tesla share pocketed the following gains. 16-Nov-2010 16-Feb 2011 Net Entry Exit Gain Buy Four Exide -$29.76 $49.68 $19.92 Short One Tesla $30.80 ...

Feeling Feeling Blue About Green? Reasons for Cleantech Optimism…

David Gold There are so many easy reasons to be a pessimist today:  the world financial crisis, the discord and dysfunction in Washington, and the almost certain doom that many scientists claim we are facing from global warming. With the first high profile cleantech company failures, the euphoria of the cleantech bubble has burst creating pessimism about the future of cleantech as a whole.  I say, hogwash!  History says we have many reasons to be optimistic.  Just because things look bad today doesn’t mean the world is coming to an end!  We humans have a hard...

Exide’s Recent Price Collapse Was Unjustified

John Petersen After the market closed on Monday, Exide Technologies (XIDE) released surprisingly poor second quarter results, a $3.6 million loss that included a $5.7 million charge for several years of reporting irregularities at a small Portuguese recycling subsidiary. The market's reaction was absolutely savage as the stock collapsed from Monday's close of $4.48 to Friday's close of $3.01. In my view, the reaction was unjustified and has set up a tremendous buying opportunity for investors who are willing to look beyond the headlines and focus on core business fundamentals. To put things in perspective, Exide's...

Solar’s Good News: Cut-Backs

by Clean Energy Intel This year’s period of intense over-supply in the solar sector has continued to pressure solar players, leading to a recent batch of announcements of cut-backs and cost reductions. All of this may simply seem to be a continuation of the recent slew of bad news that has plagued the industry in the past few months. However, in the end, it is likely to be seen as at least one of the antidotes to the sector's troubles. Source: SolarBuzz, by permission.   The chart above from ...

Lime Energy: Delivering Energy Efficiency

Tom Konrad CFA The high upfront cost of efficient buildings (and efficiency in general) is more than offset by the significant long term rewards, as you can see from the McKinsey chart below. Despite the long term benefits, the upfront cost is often a barrier, especially to government entities in today's tight budgetary environment. Performance contracting offers them a way to square the circle between the long term budget benefits of efficient buildings and the often significant capital cost. This works by funding the capital improvement with debt secured by future energy savings. An...

Tesla Finds Strength In Another Deal With Mercedes

by Clean Energy Intel Tesla Model S.  Image used with permission from Tesla   Last week was a very good week for Tesla (TSLA) stock - up 13% on the day on Thursday and ending the week at $32.31, up a solid 8.2% from the previous Friday's close. This was partly because the company's earnings statement provided a loss that was below expectations - but probably largely a result of the announcement that the company has secured another deal with Mercedes. Tesla's third-quarter net loss widened to $65.1...