Monthly Archives: May 2012

DOC Imposes Tariffs on Chinese Wind Towers

Steve Leone   Wind Tower photo: Samdogs via PhotoRee The United States Department of Commerce has once again ruled in favor of American companies who say Chinese manufacturers are receiving unfair government subsidies. American wind tower manufacturers filed a trade complaint in December against Chinese companies, and on Wednesday the DOC made its preliminary determination on countervailing duties. According to Wiley Rein, the lead counsel for the group that filed the petition, commerce found that mandatory respondents, Titan Wind Energy and CS Wind China, received countervailing subsidies...

A Gust of Wind Industry Mergers

Tom Konrad CFA Wind Turbines photo via Bigstock A rising tide may float all boats, but a stiff wind separates the wheat from the chaff. Over the last week, it’s become clearer which wind developers are the wheat, and which are the chaff.  Stronger developers with deeper experience are buying projects from their weaker kin.  At least two such deals were announced last week. On May 15th, Western Wind Energy  (TSXV:WND, OTC:WNDEF) signed a deal to acquire the entire 4,000 MW wind energy development pipeline of private Champlin/GEI Wind Holdings, with near...

Bankruptcy Fears for China’s LDK Solar

Marc Kenneth Howe Chinese photovoltaics leader LDK Solar (LDK) is headed for bankruptcy according to industry observers within China, due to its immense debt burden and a global downturn in the solar energy market. China’s Nanfang Zhoumo reported on May 26 that bankruptcy rumors have plagued LDK in recent months, causing investors to seek to divest themselves of shares in the company and regional clients to suspend orders for the company’s products. One of LDK’s leading investors, Guokai Jinrong, is believed to have sought buyers for its stake in the company since the start of 2012, with...

A Green Peak Oil Company Expanding in North America: Stagecoach Group

Tom Konrad CFA What’s the budget-conscious way to travel in the US? If you buy in advance, flying is still reasonably priced, but increased security and wait times mean that it’s quicker to drive for shorter trips. With current high gas prices, driving is increasingly expensive. Except on a few routes, Amtrak is slow, has very limited service, and costs a bundle. In our new peak oil world of $4 gas and, more and more people are opting for bus travel.  The young like it: My girlfriend’s daughter travels by bus almost exclusively, even though she owns a car....

Advanced Biofuels, Ahead of Schedule for Gevo

Jim Lane Next-gen, commercial scale biofuels debut in Minnesota – is the deck cleared for the isobutanol pioneer to soar? Not quite yet, with litigation and production ramp-up pending, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. In Colorado, Gevo (GEVO) announced it has begun startup of the world’s first commercial biobased isobutanol production plant located in Luverne, Minn. “At 1 p.m. MDT yesterday we made history by initiating production of biobased isobutanol at commercial scale,” said Dr. Patrick Gruber, CEO of Gevo. “One year ago, we broke ground with a startup goal of less than 12...

Geothermal Heat Pump Stock a Deep Bargain

Tom Konrad CFA Uncertainty surrounding the damage caused by a sulfur fire at LSB Industries‘ (NYSE:LXU) chemical facility Tuesday has brought the stock down $5 from Monday’s close, although the company was already well-valued and had just beaten analyst’s expectations for its first quarter results. This is extremely short-sighted of investors, who are no doubt spooked by the lack of information about the extent of the damage.  However, we have enough information to make a reasonable estimate as to the damage to LSB’s profits.  As I outlined Tuesday night, we know: The facility is insured for both damages and work stoppage....

Anti-Hype in Lithium-ion Batteries Foretells Doom for Electric Cars

John Petersen Despite billions of dollars in private investments and public subsidies, lithium-ion battery technology has progressed at a snail's pace for years and battery developers have recently started to emphasize the importance of baby steps. For the first time in memory, anti-hype is becoming a dominant theme in stories about lithium-ion batteries. Examples from this month include: An interview with Wards Auto where the business manager of the DOE's Kentucky-Argonne Battery Manufacturing Research and Development Center explained that it takes about ten years to put a battery innovation into production and all of today's...

Report: Two Solar Technologies That Will Thrive; Two On the Demise

Steve Leone Solar technology photo via BigStock For every revolutionary advance in solar, there are countless evolutionary dead-ends technologies that were well worth exploring, but ones that ultimately failed to live up to the mantra of "cut costs or die." These are the Solyndras of the world. Their science may have raised the bar, but ultimately they were judged by the market, which measures the bar on cost alone. From that perspective, it’s more like a limbo line “How low can you...

Ormat Technologies: Shame About the Price

Tom Konrad CFA Ormat Heat exchanger at GKW Landau. Geothermal water evaporates the carrier medium. Preheater and the evaporator. The steam line above connects to the turbine. Photo by Claus Ableiter via Wikimedia Commons Last Wednesday, Ormat Technologies (NYSE:ORA) reported a great quarter, beating analyst expectations for both earnings and revenues. Investors loved it: ORA was up 8% on the day to $20.69, and are up 14% at $21.85 as I write. I’m a big fan of geothermal power, and would love to own Ormat at the right...

Wind and Geothermal Deals; More Efficient Heat Pumps- The Week In Cleantech: 5/25/2012

Jeff Siegel and Tom Konrad May 21: Are more wind deals a sign that the bottom is in sight? TK: Western Wind Energy (WNDEF.PK) and Alterra Power (MGMXF.PK) both announced deals to acquire wind development pipelines last week.  Is the recent flurry of deals a sign that the worst may be over for wind developers?  More here. New tests conducted at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base have revealed that US warplanes are capable of flying faster and carry more payload on missions, when flying with synthetic fuels, including biofuels, compared to conventional military jet fuels made...

A Solar Light at the End of the Tunnel…

...but it may take another year to get there by Clean Energy Intel Light at the End of the Tunnel photo via BigStock Suntech Power’s (STP) first quarter earnings report provided some supportive insight into the process of consolidation currently underway in the solar industry. The financial numbers were of course less than constructive, though much as expected as pricing pressures continue to make life difficult for the sector. Perhaps of more interest were the company’s insights into the inroads...

Who’s a Fat Cat?

Tom Konrad CFA A Fat Cat. Photo of "Cauchy" by author. Friday, in a generally positive article about Lime Energy (NASD:LIME), I noted that the top five executives at the company seemed overpaid in comparison to one of their nearest rivals, Orion Energy Systems (NYSE:OESX).  Since this was not based on in-depth research, and is a pretty serious allegation about a company I’m otherwise enthusiastic about, I decided to do some more digging. Who is a Fat Cat? Using data on executive pay from Morningstar, I compared executive pay at...

120,000 Chinese Electric Vehicles

Tom Konrad I asked Art Porcari for a paragraph about what Kandi Technologies' (KNDI) recent press release meant for the company to be included in this article. He managed to keep it to a page, but it was too much for an article about ten stocks.  I thought I'd share his thoughts here.   In its Q3, 2011 10Q filing Kandi (KNDI) stated: “On August 14, 2011, a team is formally formed in Hangzhou by Development Research Center of the State Council, Society of Automotive Engineers of China (SAEC), and Zhejiang University to...

The 10-minute guide to Dupont and advanced biofuels

Jim Lane The Wilmington Express Dupont (DD) is accelerating, after acquiring Danisco in a $6B 2011 takeover. Next stop – expansion in cellulosic biofuels and biobutanol. They’re bullish on biofuels and getting more so as their technology and vertically integrated strategy comes together. More than a year ago now, Dupont took a giant additional leap into industrial biotechnology with the acquisition of Danisco and its star subsidiary, Genencor. Immediately on the bioenergy front, the Dupont Danisco joint venture in cellulosic ethanol, memorably named Dupont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol, dropped the “Danisco” in its moniker. ...

Tariffs on Chinese Solar Are Bad for Us All

Garvin Jabusch Trade War photo via Bigstock The United States Department of Commerce Thursday, and of all things at the behest of a German-owned company, SolarWorld AG (SRWRF.PK), imposed extreme tariffs on China-made solar panels and modules of between 31% and 250%, making them much less affordable for U.S. consumers. Commerce took the additional extraordinary step of making the tariffs retroactive for 90 days to prevent U.S businesses and homeowners from getting a decent price on the basis that their local...

Stop-Start Realities and EV Fantasies

John Petersen Last week Johnson Controls (JCI) released the results of a nationwide survey that found that 97 percent of Americans are ready for micro-hybrids with stop-start idle elimination, the most sensible automotive innovation in years. A micro-hybrid turns the engine off to save fuel and eliminate exhaust emissions when it's stopped in traffic and automatically restarts the engine when necessary. While the overwhelmingly positive consumer response didn't surprise me, JCI's short-term growth forecast for micro-hybrids did. I've been writing about the rapidly evolving micro-hybrid space since 2008 and during that time the market penetration forecasts have...