Monthly Archives: July 2012

Senator Inhofe: 9x Cost for Biofuels Is Too Much, but 29x Was OK for...

Jim Lane Arch-critic of the cost of military biofuels Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe comes under scrutiny over earmarks for natural gas-based military fuels that cost 29 times more than conventional fuels. In Washington, the battle over advanced military biofuels took a turn for the bizarre this week, amidst revelations that a leading Senate sponsor of legislation to restrict Navy purchases of advanced biofuels, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, had previously secured earmarks for Syntroleum Corporation (SYNM) to produce natural gas-to-liquid alternative fuels which were priced 29 times higher than conventional fuels. Overall, Syntroleum reported receiving nearly $6...

Greenshift’s New Extraction Technology a 62% Improvement, but Challenges Abound

by Debra Fiakas CFA Source:  Chicago Board of Exchange Two months ago GreenShift Corporation (GERS:  OTC) ambitiously promised to introduce by the end of 2012 an improved corn oil extraction system.   The company has developed technology to extract oil more from corn used as feedstock by ethanol producers.  GreenShift claims its first system is recovering an incremental 0.8 pounds of oil per bushel of corn in current installations.  The new system  -  called COES  II  -  is expected to increase the oil yields to 1.3 pounds  - ...

SolarWorld Among 20-Plus Manufacturers to File EU Complaint

Steve Leone Trade War. photo via Bigstock A SolarWorld coalition of European-based manufacturers officially filed a trade complaint in Brussels late Wednesday, eliciting a strong response from leading Chinese manufacturers and setting the stage for a process that could further shake up the global solar industry. SolarWorld’s (SRWRF) Germany-based operation was certainly emboldened by the thus-far successful initiative launched by its American subsidiary in the United States, where modules with Chinese cells from leading manufacturers are being hit with preliminary tariffs totaling about...

Western Wind Energy: A Matter of Trust, and Value

Tom Konrad CFA The Windstar Wind Farm. Photo credit: Western Wind Energy Yesterday, I wrote about Western Wind Energy’s (TSXV:WND, OTC:WNDEF) plans to increase the 1603 cash grant for their Windstar wind farm.  But that was not the only thing discussed in Monday’s conference call. Investor Frustration During the Q&A, many investors were concerned about Western Wind’s recent deal to acquire a 4 GW wind development pipeline from Champlin/GEI Wind Holdings.   The concern was that the company would be issuing 8 million shares for the assets, but the company...

Western Wind Expects Full Cash Grant for Windstar

Tom Konrad CFA The Windstar Wind Farm. Photo credit: Western Wind Energy On July 10, shares of Western Wind Energy (TSX:WND, OTC:WNDEF)plummeted because of a $12.2 million shortfall in the 1603 cash grant from the US Treasury for the company’s Windstar wind farm compared to the application.  In order to reassure skittish investors, the company held a conference call on Monday, July 16. On the tenth, I thought that investors should write off the 1603 cash grant shortfall, despite the fact that the company intended to send a delegation...

A123 Systems, An Object Lesson In Toxic Financing

John Petersen July has been a ghastly month for stockholders of A123 Systems (AONE) who've watched in horror as the stock price collapsed from $1.30 on July 5th to $0.49 at Friday's close. While there was unfavorable news of a director resignation yesterday, all the other news over the last month has been positive, at least at first blush. In my view the market activity was both predictable and directly attributable to recent toxic financing transactions that will have A123 printing stock faster than Ben Bernanke is printing dollars for the foreseeable future. I'd love to be able...

Lime Energy, or Lemon Energy?

Tom Konrad CFA Last week, when Lime Energy (NASD:LIME) announced that an internal investigation by its audit committee had revealed up to $15 million in misreported revenue, my first instinct was to sell, especially because the misreported revenue included not only revenue assigned to the wrong period, but possibly completely fictitious revenue.  Whenever a company reveals accounting problems, it's bad.  But there are levels of bad. As Garvin Jabusch, Cofounder and CIO of Green Alpha Advisors and manager of the Sierra Club Green Alpha Portfolio put...

The Efficiency Tango: A Deeper Look at Geothermal Heat Pump Efficiency

Tom Konrad CFA Geothermal heat pump diagram via Bigstock A couple weeks ago, I compared the efficiency of the two most advanced geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) recently launched by Waterfurnace Renewable Energy (TSX:WFI, OTC:WFIFF) and Climatemaster, as division of LSB Industries (NYSE:LXU).  Like most things in life, it turns out that heat pump efficiency is a lot more complicated than just comparing a couple numbers. Since I concluded that Waterfurnace’s 7  Series heat pumps were slightly more efficient than Climatemaster’s Trilogy 40 pumps, one of Climatemaster’s district managers pointed me...

Put the LIME in the Coconut

by Debra Fiakas CFA You put the lime in the coconut and call the doctor woke him up, I said Doctor! Is there nothing I can take, I said Doctor! To relieve this bellyache… -Baha Men It is best to avoid corporate drama that involves unexpected resignations and unscheduled week-end board meetings.  At least that is my view.  However, the company soap operas can be entertaining, so I decided to tune into the Lime Energy, Inc. (LIME:  Nasdaq) saga .  Based in North Carolina, Lime provides a menu of energy-saving solutions to utilities and large-facility owners.  Lime's product...

Book Review: Public Meltdown

Ben Plotzker The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. The focus on the public’s view of nuclear plant operator Entergy (NYSE:ETR) sets Public Meltdown: The Story of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant, by Richard Watts apart from other nuclear energy books.  The book avoids pro or anti-nuclear positions, and focus on scientific aspects of the plant, and instead tells the story of one nuclear plant’s journey through history.  That plant is Vermont Yankee, a General Electric (GE) boiling water reactor type, the same...

Shifting the Cost of Pollution

by Debra Fiakas CFA The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to review the recently enacted MATS Rule  -  Mercury & Air Toxics Standards that went into effect at the end of 2011.  At least two dozen states and forty utility companies have filed suit against the EPA over the rule, which is intended to cap mercury and other toxic emissions as well as particulates.  The rules particularly impact power plants that use coal-fired boilers to generate electricity.  The EPA provides an interactive map to see where these plants are located.  They are predominantly in the eastern half...

Kandi Technologies Bags Largest Single Electric Vehicle Order Ever

Tom Konrad CFA The Kandi KD501 Mini-EV to be leased in Hangzhou. Photo by Marc Chang. The city of Hangzhou just signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Kandi Technologies (NASD:KNDI) and nine other companies to supply 20,000 electric vehicles (EVs) for the city’s “pilot” EV leasing program.  Kandi is the only EV supplier to take part; other companies involved will supply the batteries (Air Lithium (Lyoyang) Co. Ltd.) and charging by the local utility.  The utility will fund construction of a charging and battery swap station network as well as paying for...

Next Economy and Faith for Empiricists

Garvin Jabusch Let's be clear: Justice is not an immutable law of nature. Neither math nor physics nor chemistry recognizes justice as one of the universe's governing principles. The strong, rich, and powerful have, since long before humans emerged, by and large taken what they wanted, when they wanted, and never counted the costs to those they took it from. Despite what Socrates may have said, justice has forever occurred, at best, in fleeting, ephemeral flashes. We yearn for a god capable of seeing and ultimately judging all rights and wrongs because we know we can't be counted...

Western Wind Energy Receives $78.3M Cash Grant: Good News, Bad News

Tom Konrad CFA The Windstar Wind Farm. Photo credit: Western Wind Energy Western Wind Energy (TSX-V:WND, OTC:WNDEF)recently announced that it had received the much delayed 1603 cash grant for its 120 MW Windstar wind farm, which was completed last year. Good News, Bad News The good news is that the grant was finally issued after over a month and a half after the Treasury’s normal 60-day cycle of considering the grants.   This will come as a relief to investors who may have been wondering if the grant might be denied, although I concluded...

A New Competitive Landscape for Solar PV Racking

by Joseph McCabe, PE I've been attending the Intersolar conference in San Francisco for ten years since it was just Semicon, and noticed many of the most interesting trends don’t show up in the headlines.   This year, I noticed that the exhibit halls were packed with metal (racking) peddlers, far more than in previous years. Solar headlines concentrate on the modules, even though there seems to be less and less differentiation in the module market, with everyone competing for a lower and lower average selling price (ASP). As a friend and PV industry expert told me,...

Intermolecular’s Solar Strategy Rising During Industry Eclipse

Tom Konrad CFA Solar Eclipse at Sunrise photo via Bigstock Solar module prices have fallen 50% in the last six months.  This is great news for solar consumers, but has meant deep pain for solar manufacturers.  Just last week, GE Energy (NYSE:GE) laid off workers and  put expansion plans at their Colorado factory on hold for at least 18 months while they try to improve the Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) thin film solar technology they plan to produce there.  That move followed the bankruptcy of another thin film producer...