Monthly Archives: January 2013

The API Bushwhacks Ethanol

Jim Lane Who’s right, in the fight of their lives over E15 ethanol blending? Whose data’s a Looney Tune, whose is from the real-world? Yesterday the American Petroleum Institute, in an apparent impression of Yosemite Sam, held a press conference in DC to highlight a new report from the Coordinating Research Council on E15 ethanol blends. The report is here. The API: Blast your scuppers, now I gotcha, ya’ flea-ridden riff-raff! Use of the ethanol gasoline blend E15 may endanger fuel systems in millions of 2001 and newer vehicles,...

A123’s Sale Moves Ahead

Doug Young A123 Systems battery cell products (Source: A123) After a stormy 2012 that saw growing trade friction between China and the US, I'm happy to see that 2013 is getting off to a better start with Washington's approval of a potentially sensitive sale of a bankruptcy US technology firm to a Chinese buyer. Many readers will know that I'm talking about the case of A123 Systems (AONEQ), a former high-flying US battery maker that fell on hard times as new energy industries worldwide experienced a broader...

Trading Strategy Around Lime Energy’s Possible Feb 2 Delisting

Tom Konrad Several readers have asked me if I still recommend buying Lime Energy (NASD:LIME) now that it looks like the company could be delisted from NASDAQ on February 2nd.  I won’t go into the details of why, when, or how, since John Downey has done an excellent job of covering that in the Charlotte Business Journal. Instead, I’ll look at the various possible scenarios, and how it will likely be best to trade the stock.  To understand what will happen, we first have to decide A) will Lime’s appeal against delisting be granted? and B) Will Lime be able to...

The CapEx-OpEx Fallacy, Electric Cars, and Biofuels

Jim Lane “Electric power is cheap”, and “cellulosic biofuel costs less than $1.00 per gallon”. The Tesla Model S, from the unveiling on 26-Mar-2009. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons) So why isn’t everyone buying a Chevy Volt? And why can you get lower interest rates on your Visa Card than next-gen biofuel developers face? It’s the old capex-opex (Capital Expense vs. Operating Expense) fallacy. Earlier this week, a new study from researchers at UC Santa Barbara determined photovoltaics to be much more efficient than biomass at turning sunlight into energy to...

Alternative Energy Investing for 2013

By Harris Roen 2013 is poised to be an exciting year for alternative energy investors. Despite the conflagration solar had in 2012 we see opportunities there, as well as in wind and energy efficiency. This article also reveals why 2013 is shaping up to be a good year for the stock market in general, and alternative energy in particular. ________________________ Solar If 2011 was a bad year for solar, with the bankruptcy of Solyndra, tariff wars with China, and other damaging events, then 2012 was a disaster. The Ardour Solar Energy Index (SOLRX) lost 35% in...

Inevitable Shifts and Indispensable Technologies

Next Economy Inflection, Pt. III Garvin Jabusch Back at the New Year, I thought it’d be fun to write up a short recap of some of the evidence that, finally, the world is waking up to the real need to get our economies on a footing that can allow it to persist indefinitely. In that post I wrote of those observations that “these are just the first few recent ‘tipping point’-like stories to come to mind. I've read dozens more examples recently, and I feel the fact that I can no longer be aware of all the evidence...

The Kandi Story

Denny Schlesinger The policy is hot, but the market is cold "The policy is hot, but the market is cold" is how a Chinese industry spokesman described the problem facing electric vehicles, the public is not buying. The core problem is the battery. A battery is no match for a tankful of gasoline in energy density meaning reduced driving range. Recharging the battery is time consuming, no match for a quick fill-up. If you use fast charge, you diminish the battery's life expectancy. To add to these worries, the battery typically costs as much as the...

Solazyme’s Oilcane Boom

Jim Lane Though building capacity globally, Solazyme’s operations in Brazil are getting traction fast – and raised $235M last week. How much oil could be produced in Brazil via sugar-munching microalgae? Today, the Digest looks at Solazyme’s (SZYM) progress and the bigger picture. In California, two monster announcements came out of Solazyme headquarters last week. One related to project finance and one related to raising cash. In midweek, Solazyme Bunge (BG) Renewable Oils received approval for project financing in the form of a $120M (R$245.6M) loan from the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES). ...

The Next Economy in 2012: Progress Towards Inflection

Green Alpha Advisors' Annual Client Letter and Portfolio Commentary Garvin Jabusch and Jeremy Deems 2012 saw a return to positive performance for the next economy and for markets overall. Generally, global economic conditions, as indicated by some jobs growth, slowly improving industrial output and a housing rebound, improved marginally, but debt crises in Europe and America, exacerbated by eternal dithering, gamesmanship and posturing by politicians and other policy makers on both continents, kept optimism in check and moderated expectations for growth. With respect to the next economy, though, growth and expectations for growth began showing real signs of building...

Chinese Solar Stock Rally Looks Unsustainable

Doug Young Clouds linger despite solar rally After more than a year of coming under constant assault, shares of solar panel makers have suddenly received an unexpected boost from investors who are suddenly showing renewed interest in the battered sector. Many are attributing the sudden surge in solar stocks to growing signs that China will soon embark on a massive building spree of new solar power plants, which should theoretically provide a major new business opportunity for solar panel makers who have been posting massive losses for more than a...

New Ways to Invest in Solar Like Buffett

Tom Konrad Over the last couple of years, investors who were hoping to do well by doing good have gotten bad sunburns.  Since the start of 2011, the two ETFs which track the solar sector, Guggenheim Solar (NYSE:TAN) and Market Vectors Solar Energy (KWT) are down 74% and 75%, respectively, even after the large jumps up in the first week of the year. That jump was in large part caused by the January 2nd purchase of two large solar projects by Warren Buffett controlled MidAmerican Solar from Sunpower Corporation (NASD:SPWR.) You might wonder, Why would...

Power REIT’s First Solar Deal

Tom Konrad The 5.7 MW Solar Farm in Salisbury, MA is the largest solar farm in New England. The land under if was purchased by Power REIT (NYSE:PW) in December. Photo source: Power REIT I first wrote about Power REIT’s (NYSE:PW) plans to invest in renewable energy real estate in May 2012.  The intent was to buy the real estate underlying a solar, wind, or other renewable energy project, charging the project owners rent.  This can be done profitably because REITs often have a lower cost of capital...

Eight Upsides of the New Ethanol

Jim Lane Eight technologies, seven public stocks – who’s adopting what, who’s in the lead? Perhaps you have written off ethanol as a bum investment. That’s understandable. Though, as a general rule, all acts of mind-closing should be made while chanting Michael Dell’s mantra from 1997, writing off Apple as a bum investment. It’s a good chant, you could try it. Here’s how it goes. “What would I do?” Hari Rama. “I’d shut it down.” Rama Krishna. “And give the money back”. Krishna Rama. “To the shareholders.” Rama Rama. Missing the biggest gold rush. Krishna Hari....

Earnings Are Mixed for the New Year

By Harris Roen There have been six earnings reports released so far in 2013 for alternative energy stocks, all small or microcap companies. There were no blowouts, but also no superstars – most were within analyst expectation or somewhat below.  Date DayStar Technologies Inc. (DSTI) More Info 1/7/2013 Revenues remain elusive for this thin cell PV producer. EPS dropped about 10%, and gross losses doubled. The stock is down 35% for the year, but has bounced up 20% for the quarter. SEC...

7 Bleeding-Edge Technologies Reinventing First-gen Ethanol Plants

Jim Lane The US Ethanol Fleet reinvents as super-advanced technologies target the old fleet for new purposes. Ethanol Plant Photo via BigStock For some time, perhaps one of the toughest assets to manage in the Western World possibly the Milky Way Galaxy or even the local galaxy group has been a starch ethanol plant. They’ve been through it all, just about. Food vs fuel, indirect land-use change, the ethanol blend wall, attacks on the RFS from cattle and dairy interests, attacked on ethanol tax credits,...

Methes: The McDonald’s of Biofuel

by Debra Fiakas CFA   Few would make the connection, so Methes Energies International (MEIL: Nasdaq) chief executive office explains his company’s unusual business model in McDonald’s terms.  Methes, which is a contraction of ‘methyl ester,’ has developed a biodiesel system that accommodates various feedstocks that yield methyl esters.  The system is a handsome, compact configuration of stainless steel tanks and piping that are all capable of automated operation. The company operates its own commercial-scale facilities in Ontario, Canada.  Sales of biodiesel represent the majority of Methes revenue, which totaled $10.3 million in the twelve months ending...