Monthly Archives: April 2012

Report: Electric Cars Cost Less (But watch the assumptions)

Tom Konrad CFA Pike Research just released a report on the Total Cost of Ownership of Alternative  Fuel Vehicles for Fleet Operators.  The report compares the purchase price plus lifetime fuel cost of mid-sized cars available in the US. Although the authors hesitate to declare any alternative fuel the cheapest option, the chart below clearly shows that the “BEV-100″ (Battery-Electric with 100-mile range, a.k.a. the Nissan Leaf) to be the least expensive option even at high electricity prices ($0.14/kwh) and low gas prices ($3/gallon.)  However, the Leaf only has a clear lead when the $7500 tax...

Next Move After the Solar Sell-off

As the solar industry struggles to reduce costs, it stands to reason that the more successful in the group will turn to lower-cost solar concentrating technologies - even as simple as such technology might seem in comparison to solar cells. It makes sense to include solar concentration properties like patent-rich Opel Technologies in a solar portfolio.

Battery-powered Locomotives – Compellingly Green Economics

John Petersen For the last two years I've been paying increasingly close attention to trailblazing work by Norfolk Southern (NSC) in the field of battery-powered locomotives. My interest was piqued in June of 2010 when Norfolk Southern hired Axion Power International (AXPW.OB) to develop a battery management system that would allow rail locomotives to run on battery power and recharge their batteries through regenerative braking. I believed the decision was positive news for Axion because nobody hires a battery manufacturer to design a BMS for somebody else's product. My enthusiasm was tempered, however, by knowing that an earlier...

The Week In Cleantech: Powersecure, Altair Nano, Zipcar, Waste Management, and Maxwell -Apr 27,...

Jeff Siegel and Tom Konrad April 23: Solar Grade Silicon Industry Under Pressure TK: Ed Gunther reports that the RSi (Renewable Silicon International) Easton facility has been shuttered.  Closure is attributed to pricing pressure in the solar silicon industry. April 24: Will PowerSecure (NASDAQ:POWR) Bounce Today? JS: PowerSecure International (NASDAQ:POWR) announced today that it landed $10 million worth of new orders for its smart grid power systems and LED area lights. Some of these deals are actually repeat orders, which certainly offers some confidence for the company's products....

Covanta Tackles the Biofuel Front-End

Jim Lane Making good, affordable syngas from municipal solid waste to unlock 9 billion gallons of low-cost fuel? Covanta’s (CVA) hot new gasification technology makes a big dent in the big challenge. Just after mealtimes, in the hours after mail delivery, and occasionally when the world’s youth resolve certain unhygienic conditions prevalent in the science experiments known as teenage rooms, we as a species make that materials-or-waste decision known as tossing the garbage. The MSW opportunity Here in the US, “Americans generate about 4.3 pounds of municipal solid waste per person per day, or 260 million tons...

Junior Uranium Miner ’In Position’ to Grow

by Debra Fiakas CFA To understand UR Energy, Inc. (URG:  NYSE AMEX, URE:  TSX) investors need to polish up on their Latin phrases.  UR Energy is planning to mine uranium for the nuclear power industry using a mining practice called in situ or literally in position.  In conventional mining operations large amounts of uranium-laced rock are cut out of the earth and sent to a milling center where the rock is crushed as the first step in separating uranium from the other minerals.  In situ miners like UR Energy leave the earth and rock undisturbed, instead injecting oxygenated...

Enbridge, Hydrogenics partner for utility-scale energy storage for renewables

Tyler Hamilton Oil and gas pipeline giant Enbridge Inc.(ENB)  has invested $5 million in Mississauga, Ont.-based Hydrogenics (HYGS), a leading maker of proton-exchange membrane fuel cells and electrolysis systems for producing hydrogen gas from water. Gotta say, I wasn’t expecting this announcement. I know Enbridge has invested in fuel-cell technology before, and I know it has purchased hundreds of megawatts of solar capacity, operates wind farms and is dabbling in geopower. And yes, it has invested some money into Toronto-based Morgan Solar. What surprises me about...

A Portfolio Risk Wall Street Ignores at Its Peril

Garvin Jabusch At Green Alpha, we believe in investing in the scientifically objective world, and not an ideologically skewed version of it, so I’m often amazed at the attitudes and behavior of many of our colleagues in the financial services industry. For a group that’s supposed to be practicing objectively quantified decision making, finance-types can be remarkably motivated by ideology. Especially where a particular ideology is being promoted by the largest and richest industry in the history of civilization, fossil-fuels, whose representatives will stop at nothing to convince us that their product is safe, causes no warming, and will...

Wind: Oversupply Heralds ‘Flight to Quality’

David Appleyard A dramatic turnaround in the wind technology supply chain could bring opportunities for qualified suppliers, finds research by BTM Consultant ApS. Over the past five years the whole of the wind technology supply chain has been in flux. The industry has seen a dramatic turnaround, with a negative supply situation for some key components and materials transformed into the current position, with a significant supply surplus. We present the key findings of the latest BTM Consult Supply Chain Assessment report. Slower than expected economic recovery in the U.S., combined with the eurozone sovereign...

Is Lithium-ion a Borgia Battery?

John Petersen I’ve recently learned that lithium-ion batteries might be a triple threat – Borgia batteries – cherished by eco-royalty, poisonous in the extreme, and explosive enough to wreak havoc in a $25 million laboratory that was built to safely manage battery explosions. Is it a battery or a WMD? On April 11th five employees of the advanced battery laboratory at the General Motors (GM) Technical Center in Warren, Michigan were hurt when extreme testing of a prototype lithium-ion battery pack from A123 Systems (AONE) released chemical gases that exploded inside a testing chamber. Four were...

The Week In Cleantech-4/20/12: Solar Industry Consolidation, Fact and Fiction

Jeff Siegel and Tom Konrad April 16: Canadian Solar (NASDAQ:CSIQ) Soars in Pre-Market JS: Capstone Turbine (NASDAQ:CPST) announced this morning that it landed a deal with a Michigan hospital to supply a dual-mode C1000 Power Package. The unit will provide both prime and backup power to save energy and increase reliability at the facility. Not sure how much this will do for the stock today, but I still maintain that Capstone Turbine below $1.00 is a gift. Particularly for those who can exercise a little patience. Consolidation looks to continue in the...

Report: US Re-takes Lead In Clean Energy Race from China… But Not For Long

Tom Konrad CFA According to the just-released report "Who's Winning the Clean Energy Race?" from the Pew Charitable Trusts, the United States invested the most in Clean Energy of any country in 2011, retaking the lead from China, which had held the top sport for the last two years.  But the US's resurgence is more likely to be a blip than a trend. The United States' investments in Clean Energy were up 42% in 2011 over 2010, reaching $48.1 Billion.  Meanwhile, Chinese investments were basically flat at $45.5 Billion. The US maintains a firm...

Butamax and Gevo: Bio’s Montagues and Capulets get it on, and on, and on

The 2-Minute Guide to Butamax vs Gevo, and vice-versa

Here comes the sun….not

Marc Gunther   Germany, once the world’s leading market for solar power, is pulling back its subsidies. Q Cells (QCLSF.PK), once the world’s largest solar company, just went bankrupt. This isn’t happy news. If the country that birthed the Green Party cannot sustain its support for solar, what does that tell the rest of us? It should tell us that it’s time (actually way past time) to get serious about energy and climate policy. This week, as I followed the news from Germany, I talked with a couple of energy-policy experts who I respect–Jesse Jenkins of the...

Hybrid Locomotives, Vehicle Electrification at Relevant Scale

John Petersen Last month Ricardo PLC (RCDOF.PK) published a report titled "GB Rail Diesel Powertrain Efficiency Improvements" that it prepared for Great Britain's Department for Transport. While most of the fuel efficiency technologies Ricardo evaluated for the report were mechanical systems, its analysis of the fuel efficiency benefits of stop-start and hybrid systems for locomotives offered an intriguing view of a cost-effective vehicle electrification opportunity that can be implemented at relevant scale within a few years. The two types of locomotive systems Ricardo evaluated for the report were simple stop-start idle elimination and full hybridization. The following table...

The Week In Cleantech- 4/14/12

Capstone(CPST), Siemens (SI) and China BAK(CBAK) announce deals; Brightsource withdraws IPO. Jeff Siegel and Tom Konrad April 9: Capstone Turbine (NASDAQ:CPST) Lands Another 10 Megawatts JS: Capstone Turbine (NASDAQ:CPST) announced this morning that it received about 10 megawatts worth of new orders from two oil and gas producers in the Eagle Ford shale play. For the past few years we've seen Capstone become one of the many beneficiaries of the oil & gas boom in the U.S. I expect to see Capstone continue to benefit from this space. That's the good news....