Two Perspectives on A123, Solar’s Strong Showing in Q1: The Week In Cleantech: 6-15-2012

Spread the love

Jeff Siegel and Tom Konrad

June 11: A trade complaint may filed against Chinese solar manufacturers in the EU

TK: The EU is still a much larger market than the US, which already has countervailing duties.  China’s largest panel makers, will likely shift their focus to China’s domestic market while boosting production.  More here.

June 12: A123 (AONE) announces battery new technology

TK: A123 (NASD:AONE) says their new Nanophosphate EXT technology will allows lithium ion batteries to operate at extreme temperatures, eliminating the need for liquid cooling systems in EVs, and reducing the cost of an EV by $600.  The greater temperature range would allow the new batteries to operate inside the engine compartment, as a drop-in replacement for conventional lead-acid starter batteries.  Perhaps the most promising application for these batteries would be in backup power systems in places with an unreliable grid.  Lead acid batteries charge too slowly to be recharged from the grid in such places, and so must be supplemented with diesel generators.   Lithium-ion’s faster charging rate might allow some installations to dispense with a generator entirely, and would save others considerably in fuel costs.  More here.

June 13: A123 Systems (AONE) Soars For No Rational Reason

JS: A123 Systems (NASD:AONE) shot up more than 50 percent after announcing it  had developed an improved lithium-ion cell that can cut costs of electric cars.

While I’ve always been a big supporter of this company (wishing them the best), as an investor, I can’t help but to wonder what happened yesterday.
Just a couple of months ago, the company began replacing defective battery packs at a cost of $51.6 million. This helped the company report a record loss of $125 million for Q1, 2012. The company even had to issue a “going concern” statement.

Last month, when shares closed below $0.90 the company had long-term debt of $161 million compared to a market valuation of $129.3 million. To put that in perspective, when the company went public, it debuted at $13.50.

Now don’t get me wrong. The company’s announcement of its technological breakthrough should not go unnoticed. But neither should the fact that this company is still dealing with $51 million in battery replacements, foreign competitors that continue to maintain a significant manufacturing cost advantage, and of course, bankruptcy concerns. I’m not certain the latter will happen, but I’m definitely not willing to roll the dice on that either.
Sure, technological breakthroughs are great. They’re important, and they’ve been produced by plenty of other companies that no longer exist today. That’s the reality. Personally, I do hope A123 comes out on top when all is said and done. But it’s going to be a long, tough ride. And I just don’t see any rational justification for a 50% pop on an announcement of a technological breakthrough from a company that’s barely treading water right now.

TK: Rockwool International (COP:ROCK-B, OTC:RKWBF) announced plans for its first US manufacturing facility.  The Danish insulation company previously served the whole North American market from two facilities in Canada.  The new US facility will be built in Marshall County, Mississippi, and was prompted by continued double-digit growth in North America and demand for Rockwool’s products and interest from “leading do-it-yourself chains.”   North America accounted for 8% of Rockwool’s sales in 2011, and the share is expected to increase in coming years.

June 14: U.S. Solar Industry Posts Solid Q1 With 506 MW Installed

TK: At this pace, installations in 2012 should easily surpass last year’s installations, despite the expiry of the 1603 tax grants and tariffs on low-cost Chinese panels.  More here.

June 15: Global Wind Day

TK: Today more than 200 events in 40 countries will be held to build pressure on world leaders to commit to double the share of renewable energy by 2030 at next week’s Rio+20 Summit.

Next Week: REFF-Wall St and Peak Oil Symposium

TK: I’ll be in NYC early next week to attend the Renewable Energy Finance Forum – Wall Street and Oil Supply & Demand: Studying the Wildcards.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend all of both, since they overlap. 

JS: No positions.

Jeff Siegel is Editor of Energy and Capital.
Tom Konrad Ph.D. CFA is Editor of, and a blogger on


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.