Monthly Archives: September 2013

China’s Electric Vehicle Subsidies: Winners And Losers

Tom Konrad CFA On September 17th, the Chinese Ministry of Finance announced the long anticipated renewal of China’s New Energy Vehicle (i.e. electric vehicle or EV) subsidies.  The new subsidies for cars were in-line with market expectations, but will be reduced to 10% below the current levels next year, and 20% below the current levels in 2015.  Subsidies for buses fell short of expectations. Conventional gasoline-electric hybrid models were not included in the subsidies, but some plug-in hybrid (PHEV) were.  The subsidies amount to 60,000 ($9,802) yuan for pure electric autos with a range over 250 km (155 miles),...

Clarifying the Confusion – Storage and Cost Effectiveness

by Chris Edgette, Senior Director, California Energy Storage Alliance and Charlie Barnhart, Postdoctoral Scholar, Global Climate and Energy Project, Stanford University Is storage cost effective?  Misinterpretations of a Stanford study on the energetic performance of energy storage recently published in Energy and Environmental Science appear to have added to the confusion surrounding this topic.  To clarify a few misconceptions, we (California Energy Storage Alliance, or ‘CESA’) teamed with the Charles Barnhart, the lead-author of the Stanford study, to set the record straight. The Stanford Study compared the energetic costs of energy storage resources to the energetic...

Graphene Stock Investing: What The Pros Think

Tom Konrad CFA Flexible Graphene Sheet image via BigStock  Graphene is a crystalline form of carbon in which carbon atoms are arranged in a regular hexagonal pattern. It is very strong, light, and an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. It is also nearly transparent. New laboratory  techniques for creating large sheets of graphene, including a roll-to-roll production process, have triggered an explosion of research into new practical applications taking advantage of graphene’s unique properties. Some potential cleantech applications are solar cells, ultracapacitors, water filtration and...

Finavera Wind Energy: Slow Progress

Tom Konrad CFA Without a press release since June, and the stock price in the doldrums, investors have been looking for updates on Finavera Wind Energy (TSXV:FVR, OTC:FNVRF.  Disclosure: I own this stock.)  In fact, there has been an update: Finavera’s second quarter interim report, filed on August 28th on SEDAR, but without a press release or news articles, many investors seem to have missed it. Despite the lack of updates, progress continues behind the scenes, although Jason Bak, Finavera’s CEO is yet not able to say much about the ongoing initiatives.  On Friday, he told...

KiOR’s Hard Yards of Commercialization

Jim Lane Businessman leaping photo via BigStock “The first cut is the deepest” goes the old saw no more so than in first commercial, first-of-kind advanced biofuels projects – especially when they are undertaken by newly-public companies under extraordinary scrutiny. In short, the KiOR (KIOR) story. And, as allegations fly, we look at the data on the ground and find that things are not always as they seem. Earlier this year, Phil New, the always interesting CEO of BP Biofuels, gave a rather extraordinary address in which...

KiOR Shows Its Gallons

KiOR Shows Its Gallons Jim Lane Landmark cellulosic drop-in biofuels producer releases update on early-stage production: is the increasing gallonage enough to silence the critics? Today, we head to the Chapel of Hard Data, and get closer to the music. Nobody walks slower, in public, than at a wedding or a funeral. In the case of KiOR (KIOR), the critics and supporters have been shouting loud as the company makes its slow, public march up the aisle towards steady-state operations. Most observers, sitting in the pews, have been unsure as to whether to be...

China Boosts Solar With Construction Ban

Doug Young China halts construction of new solar manufacturing plants Beijing took an important step towards rejuvenating the global solar panel sector last week when it announced new steps that will strictly limit new plant construction. This kind of government-led approach is a good short-term solution, as it will halt the introduction of new supply, which in turn will allow prices to stabilize after more than 2 years of steep declines caused by massive overcapacity. But over the longer term, China needs to address the...

Capstone Infrastructure: Green Income At A Cardinal Discount

Tom Konrad CFA Capstone Infrastructure Corp.'s Gas Cogeneration facility in Cardinal, Ontario. Capstone Infrastructure Corporation (TSX:CSE, OTC:MCQPF. Disclosure: I own this stock) is an international operator and developer of green infrastructure assets and utilities which is currently selling at a significant discount to most comparable firms.  I recently ran a comparison of six similar Canada-listed firms, and Capstone seemed much cheaper on several measures. The Discount The following chart compares five renewable energy and green infrastructure firms with most of their operations in Canada: Capstone, Algonquin Power and Utilities (TSX:AQN, OTC:AQUNF), Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners (NYSE:BEP),...

How to Read a Sustainability Report: Five Tips

Five tips to help you make sense of the next sustainability report you read Reading Sustainability Reports photo via BigStock   By Marc Gunther. This article was first published on Ensia.com. Corporate sustainability reports have been around since … well, it’s hard to say.  The first report may have been published by “companies in the chemical industry with serious image problems” in the 1980s, or by Ben & Jerry’s in 1989 or Shell in 1997. No matter since then, more...

Solar Stocks Will Continue to Outperform But Remain Volatile

By Harris Roen The market is starting to notice that solar investing has been extremely profitable in 2013. As of the middle of September, the average solar stock is up over 50% in the past year, and over 15% in three months (that’s over 60% annualized!). These returns are taken from a broad list of about 60 publically traded companies in the solar industry (see chart above). Though all are involved in solar, solar may not be the primary business of many of these companies. For example, Panasonic (PCRFY) produces photovoltaics, but it is only a small...

Five Pioneers Mining the Sun for Income

by Jared Wiedmeyer For the past few years, solar industry stakeholders have imagined a future where the general public has the ability to invest in pure-play renewable energy real estate investment trusts (REITs) that finance and construct both utility-scale and distributed photovoltaic (PV) projects in the United States. While these stakeholders wait for this reality to come to fruition, existing REITs already have several options to own or develop solar projects that still allow them to comply with the IRS's asset and income tests.  This past May, Chadbourne & Park's Kelly Kogan and Scott Bank moderated a roundtable with...

Coupled Solar and Energy Storage Market to Grow

David Appleyard LONDON The symbiotic match between the solar and energy storage sectors shows significant market promise and could see the sector yielding a US $2.8 billion market over the next five years, Assessing the emerging market for combined solar and energy storage, Lux Research analysts found that residential applications dominate through 2018. As lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries and overall storage arrays fall in price, residential systems will gain the most, growing to 382 MW in 2018, the report suggests. Meanwhile, the light commercial segment will increase to 220 MW although heavy commercial/industrial systems will...

Residential Solar in the Ontario microFIT Project: Three Families’ Experiences

Michael Smele Solar Home with sunflower photo via Bigstock The Ontario microFIT program was launched in 2009 as part of Ontario’s provincial government’s efforts to increase the production of renewable energy. The program provides participants with the opportunity to develop a “micro” renewable electricity generation project on their privately owned property that uses solar photovoltaic (PV), wind, waterpower, or bioenergy (biogas, biomass, landfill gas). I have asked three families who navigated the process of microFIT solar installations to share their experience by answering some questions. ...

Which Chinese Solar Companies Will Survive The Coming Shakeout?

Tildy Bayar Lux Research’s report, The Great Shakeout: China’s Path to a Rational Solar Industry, outlines the challenges Chinese solar companies will face during the anticipated consolidation, and suggests likely strategies for survival and success in a post-shakeout solar market. While many smaller companies will go under, the nation’s top-tier companies will survive and thrive in an eventual balanced global solar landscape, the report predicts. Policy Measures China’s government will continue to support its solar sector, upping its domestic capacity target in order to boost local demand and reduce its dependence on foreign markets. But Zhun Ma, Lux...

NextEra Energy: the Real Attraction

by Debra Fiakas CFA One member of the NuStart Energy consortium of nuclear power developers is Florida Power & Light or FPL Group, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy (NEE: NYSE).  The group had its sights on getting a nuclear power plant construction and operating license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).  The company operates the third largest nuclear power generation fleet in the U.S. composed of eight nuclear reactors at five plant sites.  The fleet is far flung, ranging from Florida to New Hampshire and Wisconsin and West to Iowa. FPL is working on an expansion of...

Insiders Are Buying These Five Canadian Cleantech Stocks

Tom Konrad CFA In the US insider trades are easily found on the SEC website, stock exchange websites, and financial aggregation sites.  No so in Canada.  A search for insider trades for a Toronto-listed stock on Google will turn up all the financial aggregation websites, but they don’t have any data. The TSX has more clean technology listings than any other exchange worldwide, many of which are truly international.  I follow several, so I was thrilled when I came across CanadianInsider, where anyone can peruse recent insider trades for Canadian listed companies. Of the 14...