Monthly Archives: April 2013

First Solar Optimistic About Future

Liz Nelson The largest thin-film panel manufacturer in the world has an optimistic view of the immediate future for renewable energy demands. First Solar (FSLR) had an impressive charge for several years until the final quarter of 2008 when the stock value of the photovoltaic manufacturer began to plummet. Over the course of four years, the stock had dropped from approximately $311 per share to a dismal $11.43 nearing the end of the second quarter in 2012. At the beginning of April of 2013, the stock had nearly tripled in value and continues to gain momentum. The beginning of...

Energy Efficiency Stocks Rally on Shaheen-Portman Bill

Tom Konrad CFA Senator Jeanne Shaheen (Photo credit: sskennel) and Sentaor Rob Portman (official photo) While the chance for broad energy reform to come out of our dysfunctional and divided Congress are slim,  there is one area of broad agreement across the aisle: Energy Efficiency is good for jobs, and the environment.  Much can also be done at modest or no cost to the taxpayer. Today, Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) are reintroducing their Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, supported by a broad range of industry leaders, energy efficiency advocates, and...

Biodiesel’s Big Comeback

Jim Lane Filling up with Biodiesel in 2007.  Photo source: Tom Konrad Darling of the mid-2000s, still beloved by its many fans biodiesel is increasingly a key to delivering advanced biofuels volumes now and even more so between now and 2022. Presentations by NBB CEO Joe Jobe and REG CEO Daniel Oh at ABLC 2013 explained the how and why. In the excitement over cellulosic biofuels and drop-ins, it is easy to forget that the backbone of advanced biofuels in the US and around he...

The LED Gold Rush

Tom Konrad CFA Last week, a prominent display of $10 LED light bulbs from Cree, Inc. (NASD:CREE) arrested my attention as I entered a home improvement store. These were officially launched in March, and are similar to a 40 watt-equivalent bulb I bought in 2009.  I still have that bulb, which I use for outdoor lighting, because Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) take too long to warm up in the winter.  It’s still going strong.  The only problem: it cost $50, and used as much energy as a CFL for the same amount of light. Four years later, we have...

Solar PV Inverter Market Shakeout Continues With ABB and Power-One Deal

James Montgomery A pair of analyst reports issued last week came to roughly the same conclusion about the market for solar PV inverters: It's getting crowded and complicated, with top incumbents facing challenges in maintaining near-term growth in an increasingly fragmented market. Those PV inverter stalwarts will need to pursue more restructuring and mergers & acquisitions to stay atop the shifting and broadening customer base, addressing everything from tough-to-crack markets (e.g. China, Japan) and embracing newer technologies such as module-level power conversion, i.e. microinverters, say IMS Research and GTM Research. This consolidation has already started to play...

Yingli Queues Up For Next Chinese Solar Bailout

Doug Young Yingli (NYSE: YGE) has become the latest player in China’s struggling solar sector to get a lifeline from Beijing, as an interesting picture starts to emerge of the relative health of the sector’s major players and who is likely to lead a coming consolidation. The list of who gets these lifelines could also reflect the relative importance Beijing places on China’s wide and varied field of solar panel and panel component makers, meaning some of these lifeline recipients could emerge as potential leaders to help consolidate the sector in the months ahead.I should make a big...

Tesla, Graphene, and the 1,000 Mile EV

By Jeff Siegel A good friend of mine recently took delivery of a brand-new Tesla (NASD:TSLA) Model S. This is the electric car you've read about in these pages before: a sleek, all-electric vehicle boasting high-end luxury, state-of-the-art design, and an all-electric driving range of 300 miles... Take a look: Not only is the Model S a top-notch vehicle that crushes every other electric car available in the marketplace today, but its ability to travel 300 miles on a single charge has proven to be a serious game-changer in the world of electric cars. In fact,...

BYD Junks Traditional Cars, Issues Shares

Doug Young Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has remained faithful to Chinese car maker BYD (HKEx: 1211; Shenzhen: 002594; OTC:BYDDF), refusing to change his 10 percent holdings in the company despite a rapid tumble as its bet on electric vehicles (EVs) fails to take off. But soon the man known as the Oracle of Omaha may have no choice but to reduce his stake, since BYD has just announced a plan to issue more shares to raise desperately needed cash. Of course Buffett may choose to buy some of those new shares to maintain his stake at 10...

Three New Green Bonds

by Sean Kidney The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is planning to issue $1bn Green Bonds per annum. Hawaii is setting up a bond-funded green bank Germany’s PNE Wind is planning a €100m corporate bond Trade Finance magazine reports that the IFC is planning to issue $1bn a year of Green Bonds. After talking with IFC folk in Washington DC last week I think I can say that the resounding success of last month’s first $1bn IFC Green Bond is making them think much more ambitiously than before. We think they should also...

Suntech May Sell Italian Assets, LDK Defaults

Doug Young A restructuring storm continues to blow through China’s battered solar sector, with word of a potential major asset sale by Suntech (NYSE: STP) and a debt default by LDK Solar (NYSE: LDK). Of these 2 news bits, the Suntech one is easily the most interesting as it finally helps to make sense of reports last week that billionaire investor Warren Buffett might want to buy the former solar superstar that last month declared bankruptcy. But Suntech investors will be disappointed to learn the latest reports don’t seem to include a major cash infusion from Buffett, who...

Are Investors Right To Panic About Exide Technologies?

Tom Konrad CFA Thursday Afternoon Panic On Thursday, April 4th, battery manufacturer and recycler Exide Technologies’ (NASD:XIDE) stock plunged, starting around 2pm.  There was no press release or SEC filing from the company, or stories on the public newswires.  Likely short sellers were stoking rumors on the chat boards that the company had filed for bankruptcy, and that the story was on Reuters. Electric Storage Battery Company advertisement for Exide batteries in the journal Horseless Age, January 15, 1918 Intraday, panicked shareholders dumped their shares for as little as $1.16,...

Ormat’s Enhanced Geothermal Project Now On Line

Meg Cichon   Ormat's 21.8 megawatt Desert Peak 2 plant in Nevada. Photo Source: Ormat A major challenge for the geothermal industry is reducing the risk of its exploration and drilling phase – there is a 40-60 percent chance that each $5-7 million well is ultimately deemed unproductive. But that statistic may soon change. In what many in the industry are calling a game-changer, the nation's first enhanced geothermal system (EGS) to supply electricity to the grid came online last week. ORMAT's Desert Peak 2 project is producing an...

Casella Waste Systems: Cheap Enough to Recycle?

by Debra Fiakas CFA Solid waste has been one of the business types that has a natural hedge against macroeconomic distress.  No matter how bad things get, as long as our neighbors draw breath there will be trash to handle.  Casella Waste Systems, Inc. (CWST:  Nasdaq) sits in the shadow of larger waste handlers such as Waste Management (WM:  NYSE) and Republic Services (RSG:  NYSE).  Consequently, it is often passed over by investors despite a significantly better profit margin. One of the reasons investors might not take Casella seriously is its history of net losses.  However, the...

BioAmber Sets Price Range for IPO

Jim Lane  8 million share offering at $15-$17 aims to raise $128 million. “We are selling 8,000,000 shares of common stock,” begins BioAmber’s latest SEC update, written in IPO-legalese. “The initial public offering price of our common stock is expected to be between $15.00 and $17.00 per share, which is the equivalent of €11.48 and €13.01 per share, based on an assumed Bloomberg BFIX Rate for USDEUR at the pricing of this offering. If completed, it would be the first successful IPO in the sector since Ceres (CERE) and Renewable Energy Group (REGI)...

Key Players in New Wind Turbine Technology

David Appleyard   Vestas Wind turbines in Sloterdijk. Photo by Aloxe. With annual market growth of almost 10 percent, and cumulative capacity growth of about 19 percent according to the latest figures from the Global Wind Energy Council, the wind sector continued to make robust progress in 2012. But while these figures suggest a relatively buoyant market for installations, perhaps a more accurate way to judge the health of the wind sector is to consider investment in R&D, and more specifically the products of that research, development and testing....

Gevo wins a judgment in latest Butamax vs Gevo dust-up

Jim Lane Gevo a winner? Not the issue, says Butamax, as the Capulets and Montagues get it on again. It’s a tennis match in which the score is never love. Scene: Verona. A public place. The Prince: Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word, 
By thee, old Butamax, and Gevo, Have thrice disturb’d the quiet of our streets, 
And made the Digest’s ancient citizens
 setteth aside required reading of matters thermochem and RFS, to hear again, and again, and thence again your claims and counterclaims and all the pleadings that issueth, containing more commas than...