Monthly Archives: September 2012

Geothermal Transmission 101

Paul Schwabe Among renewable resources, one of the most valuable attributes of geothermal electricity is the baseload characteristic of the energy resource. That is, geothermal electricity generators are able to deliver a stable level of power production over time. Yet for better or worse, this baseload characteristicalong with other notable factors such as size constraints and varying market segmentsreveals that interconnecting a geothermal plant to a transmission or distribution system poses unique challenges compared to other renewable energy technologies . A recent report by NREL, "Geothermal Power and Interconnection: The Economics of Getting to the Market," delves...

Will Higher Heat Content in Trash Help Waste-to-Energy Stocks?

Tom Konrad CFA The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently published an article describing an increase in the energy content of municipal solid waste (MSW).  The reason for this increase is an increase in the percentage of waste from “non-biogenic” sources (i.e. plastics) as compared to biogenic sources (paper, cardboard, wood, food and yard waste, etc.)  Biogenic waste has an average heat content of 11 MMBtu/ton, as compared to 23 MMBtu/ton for non-biogenic waste. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, derived from U.S. Enivoronmental Protection Agency, Municipal Solid Waste data. ...

EV Woes at Tesla and Toyota: The Week In Cleantech, 9-28-2012

Jeff Siegel September 25: Toyota (NYSE:TM) Scraps Electric Car 2012 Toyota Prius photographed in Washington, D.C., USA.. (Photo credit: IFCAR via Wikimedia Commons) Claiming the company misread the market, Toyota (NYSE:TM) is scrapping its plans for a global roll-out of an electric mini-car called the eQ. To be honest, I'm not particularly surprised. Toyota has not been very aggressive, or interested really, in pursuing the electric vehicle (EV) market. And I get it. When it comes to delivering a superior conventional hybrid vehicle, Toyota still runs...

Gevo Switches Refinery Back to Ethanol: Amyris Redux?

Jim Lane Amyris redux, or fiscal caution in the ramp-up process? We look at the data, as the advanced isobutanol pioneer switches Luverne from isobutanol to ethanol amidst production shortfalls. In Colorado, Gevo (GEVO) announced that, while making significant progress towards economic production levels, the company does not now expect to achieve its desired year-end run rate – instead it has delayed hitting that target into 2013. “While we have made significant progress towards economic production levels,” said Gevo CEO Pat Gruber, “we have decided to optimize certain specific parts of our technology to further enhance bio-isobutanol...

Selling Pressure Comes Off Lime Energy

Tom Konrad CFA When Lime Energy (NASD:LIME) reported accounting problems, including the possibility of fictitious revenue on July 17th, investors abandoned the stock, unwilling to own a company in which they knew the financial statements to be misstated.   Over the next two weeks, Lime found a floor around $0.90 (down from over $2 on July 16th), as those investors who would sell at any price were replaced by those who, like me, feel that $0.90 is less than any reasonable estimate of LIME’s true value even in liquidation. Volume then dried...

Powering Advanced Energy

by Debra Fiakas CFA Solar power producers have many challenges.  One is the direct current to alternating current dilemma.  Solar panels create power that flows one way in a direct current (DC).  We use electricity in our homes and businesses in alternating current (AC) that flows both directions, forward and backward.  So solar cell producers must use solar inverters that convert the electricity from the direct current in the solar panel into alternating current. This is where Advanced Energy Industries, Inc. (AEIS:  Nasdaq) comes in. AEIS makes power inverters for the solar power industry.  The...

Melting LDK Solar Looks for a Buyer

Doug Young There are quite a few developments on the solar energy front today, led by the release of new financial results from LDK Solar (NYSE: LDK), the weakest of China's major solar panel makers, that show a company in the midst of a meltdown. Meantime, Beijing has officially protested a US law that allows Washington to levy punitive tariffs against overseas industries that receive unfair state support, such as China's solar sector. Both the US and Europe believe China supports its solar sector with unfair subsidies and have taken various punitive actions; and now India is also...

Solar & Battery Orders; Solar Stock and EV Woes: Two Weeks In Cleantech, 9-22-2012

Jeff Siegel September 17: Will LDK Solar (NYSE:LDK) Become a Penny Stock? LDK Solar (NYSE:LDK) has sent a revenue warning and cut its full-year revenue forecast for the second time this year. The company is now expecting Q3 revenue to come in at between $220 million and $260 million. Analysts were expecting more than twice that on the low-end of LDK's estimates with $453.6 million. And to add insult to injury, I overhead an analyst last week saying China solar companies, like LDK, are on a one-way track to penny stock status. Ouch! I was actually at...

Exide Technologies: Anatomy of a Mistake

Tom Konrad CFA On June 1st, in the lead up to Exide Technologies’ (NASD:XIDE) first quarter earnings announcement, I made one of my better calls so far this year.  I wrote that the Exide stock was in the “bargain basement” and “ready to pop.” That day, XIDE traded in a range of $2.25 to $2.36, within spitting distance of its 52 week low of $2.22.  Four months later, the stock is up 45% at $3.25, despite two earnings misses in the meantime. My Mistake Unfortunately, I missed out on a good chunk of that gain.   A week...

SMA Solar Delays Microinverter Launch

Ed Gunther SMA Sunny Boy 240 microinverter delayed again until 1Q13. From Solar Light Flashes: SPI12 Edition As I tweeted at the start of the Solar Power International 2012 (SPI12) exhibition, SMA America, LLC, a unit of SMA Solar Technology AG (ETR:S92), delayed the introduction of the Sunny Boy 240-US microinverter system until the first quarter of 2013 (1Q13) despite the webpage continuing to claim “Coming 2012!” The Sunny Boy 240 is in the midst of US field trials that SMA said are going well. While SMA said...

SMA Solar’s Transformerless Inverter Provides Power During Outages

Ed Gunther From Solar Light Flashes: SPI12 Edition Sunny Boy TL-US Inverter SMA Solar Technology AG (ETR:S92) will begin limited shipments of the transformerless Sunny Boy 3000/4000/5000TL-US-22 inverter series for 3 to 5 kiloWatt rated AC power PV systems in 4Q12. The TL-US series has added a unique Emergency Power Supply feature providing daytime power to a dedicated power socket in the event of a grid power outage. The power socket is isolated from the grid during the outage and supplies up to 12 Amps so long as...

EPA Ups Renewable Diesel Mandate By 30%

Jim Lane Biodiesel pump photo via Bigstock What will bigger targets mean for producers, livestock, obligated refiners, and the diesel-using public? In Washington, the EPA issued its final rule for 2013 establishing 1.28 billion gallons as next year’s biomass-based diesel volume requirement under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), up from 1.0 billion gallons in 2012. “This 1.28 billion gallon level is in-line with what the EPA had originally proposed for 2013 dating back to last year,” commented Raymond James energy analyst Pavel Molchanov. “However, the...

Incremental Advances in Wave Power Technology Not Enough to Temper OPT Q1 Losses

Marsha Johnston “We’re still at the point where the car industry was of not knowing whether the engine should be at the front or the back,” quips Christopher Barry, chair of the Ocean Energy Technical and Research panel at the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers. “At least a dozen companies are looking into …with at least half a dozen main ideas for getting the energy out that are distinctly different and many variants on those themes.  There are lots of opportunities and we don’t know which will be the winner.”  In contrast, he notes, turbine...

Maxwell Technologies: The Bottom is In

Tom Konrad CFA In the month since Maxwell Technologies (NASD:MXWL) surprised analysts with strong second quarter (Q2 2012) earnings, the stock has maintained a trading range between $7.50 and $8, comfortably above the $6-$7 range in which it had been trading for most of the summer.  Despite the roughly 20% gain, I believe the stock has plenty of upside left as it recovers from its previous depressed levels. Why the Low Price? A year ago, Maxwell was a cleantech darling, with analysts predicting rapid growth as the company’s ultracapacitors were used as key components in rapidly growing markets such...

Brookfield Renewable Energy Likely To Vote Against Western Wind Management in Proxy Battle

Tom Konrad CFA When it emerged that Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners (“Brookfield”, TSX:BRP.UN, OTC: BRPFF) had acquired approximately one sixth of Western Wind Energy’s (TSXV:WND, OTC:WNDEF) stock last Thursday from Western Wind’s largest institutional shareholder, Goodman & Company, investors cheered. The transaction was seen as a signal that Brookfield intends to bid at least C$2.25 for Western Wind in its upcoming sale, and so the company’s stock has been trading for slightly more than C$2.25 since the announcement. Despite this, the Brookfield/Goodman transaction may not prove to be a good deal for Western Wind’s other shareholders.  Goodman had not...

PV Still Facing a Bumpy Ride: Working in a Low-incentive World

Paula Mints Bumpy Road photo via BigStock To encourage the continuation of necessary incentives as well as utility participation, the PV industry has promised a consistent (and significant) reduction in module prices along with "grid" parity with conventional energy sources. The PV industry has also promised to do this without subsidies and it may have to keep its promises. Conventional energy producers have not promised low energy prices without subsidies and are expected to continue to enjoy  without much negative press  indirect and direct subsidies for...