Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Sun Breaks Through Stormy Skies of China/EU Trade

Sun breaks through trade war clouds China and the West broke a decades-old pattern of troubled trade relations over the weekend with a landmark deal to settle a trade dispute between China and the EU involving Chinese manufactured solar panels. Leaders in China and the West should use this breakthrough agreement as a template for resolving future trade disputes, turning to compromise rather than destructive accusations and punitive tariffs to end their disagreements. Trade between China and the West has grown rapidly over the last two...

The Making of a Solar REIT: By the Numbers

Tom Konrad, CFA A solar project at Fort Hunter Liggett in California. Photo: US Army Corps of Engineers Power REIT (NYSE:PW) announced yesterday that it had closed on a deal to buy approximately 100 acres of land leased to the owners of over 20 MW of solar projects near Fresno, CA.  This will be the company’s second solar transaction and increases the share of its revenue from solar to 21%.  These two solar transactions put PW well on its way to becoming the nation’s first REIT...

Did You Just Buy a Sustainable Mutual Fund? No.

Garvin Jabusch Did you just buy a sustainable mutual fund? No. The answer is no because human economies are still so far from real sustainability that even a highly idealized portfolio of our most sustainable enterprises necessarily still falls short. Ultimately, the best any portfolio can do is mirror the reality of the world, and today, still, even the best representatives of sustainability can be found wanting compared to what will be required if we would like to keep society thriving indefinitely. At best, whatever fund you just bought can only be described as, to a greater or lesser...

What I Learned During Last Week’s Visit With ePower

John Petersen Last week I spent a couple days with ePower Engine Systems working my way through a variety of business and technical due diligence issues. As always happens with new clients, it was a full immersion course in how ePower’s technology works, what the documented performance of the current tractor is, and how that performance is expected to change as ePower: transitions from a four cylinder engine designed for stationary use to an EPA compliant six cylinder engine designed for the trucking industry; automates a new charge control system that will opportunistically charge the batteries in...

China Levies Tariffs on US and South Korean Polysilicon

James Montgomery The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has formally decided to levy antidumping duties on imported solar-grade polysilicon from U.S. and Korean suppliers, turning up the heat yet again in the broader trade disputes simmering between several key markets for solar energy. The antidumping tariffs, which are said to be effective starting July 24, range from 54-57 percent targeting nine U.S. suppliers and from 2-49 percent for 11 South Korean suppliers. (Here's a roughly Googlized translation of the China MOC announcement.) Here's how the antidumping tariffs lay out: Not included in these polysilicon tariffs is any mention of European...

Bright Forecasts from Renesola

Doug Young ReneSola (NYSE:SOL) boosts revenue and margin forecasts More good news is coming from the battered solar panel sector, with mid-sized player ReneSola (NYSE: SOL) sharply boosting its revenue and margin forecasts for the current quarter in the latest sign of a sector rebound. ReneSola isn’t forecasting a return to profitability just yet, but the latest signs do seem to indicate the sector’s strongest players could return to the black by the end of this year if current trends continue. Some could also interpret this upbeat news...

The Economics of Biofuels: Three Drivers

Jim Lane They’re known as the three E’s: emissions, energy security and economic development. But how do they contribute to the economics of biofuels? And how do those economics compare to the economics of crude? The financing of biofuels is founded, to put it as simply as possible, upon the economics of substitution. On the one hand, there’s the price of energy currently locked inside biomass; on the other hand, the price of energy currently locked inside crude oil. The monetary rationale for biofuels is a version of vive la difference. To give a simple example, if renewable...

Energy Efficiency and Solar Lead Alternative Energy Stocks Skyward

By Harris Roen Industry Day Week Qtr Year Energy Efficiency -0.3% 2.3% 18.7% 49.9% Environmental -0.2% 1.1% 9.8% 11.8% Fuel Alternatives -0.3% 1.3% 19.6% 29.2% Smart Grid -0.1% 2.4% 9.5% 31.9% Solar 0.5% 6.8% 40.3% 52.8% Wind 0.0% 2.1% 9.7% 21.6% Average -0.1% 2.7% 17.9% 32.9% Data as of: 7/17/2013 Alternative energy stocks are up over 30% on average for the year, reflecting impressive gains off of widely oversold lows in 2012. Almost three-quarters of...

Is Fracking for Enhanced Geothermal Systems the Same as Fracking for Natural Gas?

Meg Cichon Advocates for both natural gas and geothermal are up in arms over whether fracking for enhanced geothermal systems should be scrutinized with the same parameters as natural gas. Ormat sucessfully used EGS technology to increase the capacity of its Desert Peak 2 plant in Nevada by 1.2MW. Photo Source: Ormat The U.S. geothermal industry recently scored a big win when its first enhanced geothermal system (EGS) project went online in April. ORMAT (NYSE:ORA) was able to stimulate a previously unproductive well at its Desert Peak project with EGS...

Two Weeks In Cleantech, July 2nd to July 16, 2013

Jeff Siegel 7/2/13: LDK Sells Shares LDK Solar (NYSE:LDK) is down in pre-market this morning after announcing the sale of 25 million newly issued shares to Fulai Investments Limited for $1.03 per share with an aggregate purchase price of $25.75 million. LDK closed at $1.40 yesterday afternoon. 7/9/13: How High Can Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY) Go? First Energy Corp (NYSE:FE) has announced that it plans to deactivate two coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania by the end of the year. The reason? FE claims its weak power prices and the high cost of complying with stricter environmental rules....

Three Keys to Advanced Biofuels at Commercial Scale

Jim Lane Is your team ready for the summit run? Take our 3-question, 6 point quiz, and compare your route to the established routes that others have pioneered. It’s become an cliché of late that “financing is tough” and that “the US is slowing” while “China is speeding up” on advanced biofuels. It’s also become a cliché that “cellulosic biofuels are slow, the economics are unworkable” and that “the next wav of investment will wait until 2015 or 2016, especially for commercial-scale.” Like all clichés, they have their origin in real experience, but are generally over-broadened to...

China Won’t Impose Tariffs on EU Polysilicon: Solar Trade Tensions Cool

Doug Young After months of heated rhetoric, the voice of reason is growing between Europe and China as they seek to end their dispute over Beijing’s state support for its solar panel sector. In the latest sign that a potential agreement to resolve the dispute could be near, Beijing has decided not to levy punitive tariffs against European polysilicon, the main ingredient used in making solar panels. (English article) Many had seen China’s launch of an anti-dumping investigation into European and US polycilicon imports last year as a retaliatory move for similar US and European investigations into Chinese...

The Sustainable Infrastructure Income Trust

Tom Konrad CFA Jeffrey Eckel Jeffrey Eckel has an investor relations problem. No, there has not been any scandal involving fudging the books or sweatshop labor.  Rather, most investors simply don’t seem to “get” his company. His company recently went public as a REIT, or Real Estate Investment Trust, and the traditional REIT investor likes the familiar.  They invest for income, and for many, a track record of past income and dividends is a must.  While Eckel’s company manages $1.8 billion of securitized energy efficient and sustainable infrastructure...

The Next Tesla Or SolarCity

Tom Konrad CFA Andrew Shapiro Speaking at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum – Wall Street this morning, Andrew Shapiro, the Founder of Broadscale Group, presented his ideas on how small clean energy companies can succeed: Collaborate with big corporations.  That does not mean going cap in hand looking for the cash those companies can bring, but forging collaborative partnerships where interests are aligned with a corporate investment, and leveraging the reach and scale of those companies to rapidly achieve scale that entrepreneurs have trouble finding on their own....

China Solar Companies: “We Can Survive”

Doug Young A mini flurry of news from embattled solar panel makers seems to have the same singular message, designed to tell investors that they can survive an industry crisis now entering its third year. Of course the companies that emerge when the crisis finally subsidies could be far different from the ones that went into the crisis, which seems to be the message from LDK (NYSE: LDK) in its latest announcement involving its slow takeover by a Chinese investor. At the other end of the spectrum, the message from Canadian Solar (Nasdaq: CSIQ) is a more upbeat,...

New Flyer Consolidates Leading Position in Transit Bus and Parts Markets

Tom Konrad CFA On June 21st, leading North American heavy-duty transit bus manufacturer New Flyer Industries (TSX:NFI, OTC:NFYEF) announced the acquisition of its third largest competitor, North American Bus Industries from private equity firm Cerberus Capital. The following Monday, New Flyer management held a call to discuss the acquisition with analysts.   Here are the highlights. Cost and Financing: The C$84 million cost to New Flyer consists almost entirely of the assumption and discharge of NABI’s existing debt.  This will be funded with C$64 million by issuing to the world’s second largest bus maker Marcopolo S.A. for C$10.50 a...