Monthly Archives: February 2014

Why SunPower (SPWR) is a Solid Bet on Solar

By Jeff Siegel I've been singing the praises of SolarCity (NASDAQ: SCTY) since the company first went public. Even as renewable energy bears attacked anything with the word "solar" in the name, I stuck to my guns. And I'm glad I did. Here's a quick look at how SCTY has performed since its debut: Of course, at this point, SCTY is an easy ride. Even if the company's next earnings disappoint, the long view remains solid. So when the company delayed earnings this week, I didn't lose any sleep. The fact is, those who took...

The 10 Hottest Trends in Algae

Jim Lane  Algae has been touted as the ultimate platform for fuels, chemicals, nutraceuticals, proteins even cancer therapies. There’s been a rate of progress that would impress any devotee of Moore’s Law and a series of wacky claims that would impress any devotee of P.T. Barnun. So, what are the real trends? We’ve traveled several years now since the “Summer of Algae” when it seemed like half the venture capitalists in life sciences were forming algae ventures, or thinking about them. Since then a cluster of research projects and proto-companies have been...

Solar Conquistador

by Debra Fiakas CFA In the last post on Brightsource Energy and its Ivanpah solar thermal power plant in California, I offered no investment opportunity.  Brightsource’s colossal configuration of mirrors and boilers in the Mojave desert is not the first solar thermal power plant using the tower configuration.  The solar subsidiary of Spain’s power generator and transmission leader Abengoa S.A.(ABGB:  Nasdaq) was first to market with a commercial solar thermal tower power plant near Seville. Since construction first started in 2004, Abengoa Solar has brought a series of solar thermal...

SunEdison Launches Yieldco; Trend Will Be Transformative For Solar

James Montgomery SunEdison proposes Yieldco IPO The proposed initial public offering (IPO) of common stock for a new yieldco vehicle, with terms yet to be determined, was announced hours before the company's quarterly and year-ending financials. Reports over the past couple of months have suggested a SunEdison (SUNE) yieldco could generate a $300 million payday. Later this month (Feb. 24) the company will hold its Capital Markets Day with a more extensive analysis of its business strategies, and surely this will be a big topic of conversation. Here's why SunEdison...

Power REIT’s Preferred Stock Offering: A Hedge That Pays 7.75%

Power REIT's preferred stock offerning (NYSE:PW-PRA) is an excellent hedge for the legal risks borne by the holders of its common stock (NYSE:PW.)

Mirrors in the Mojave

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last week the Ivanpah solar thermal power plant in California went operational last week.  Ivanpah is a marvel.  Located in the Mojave Desert, the power plant generators are driven by steam like any other.  However, at Ivanpah the steam is created by acres of large mirrors that reflect and concentrate the desert sunlight onto water-filled boilers.  The boilers tower 150 feet above the mirrors that are spread across 3,500 acres.  Ivanpah scale has required the cooperation of a number of players.  Brightsource Energy is running the show with the...

Trina Drives Consolidation As Solar Trade War Flares Up

Doug Young  As if the solar trade war between the US and China wasn’t bad enough, tensions just got worse with a preliminary ruling in Washington aimed at closing a loophole to a previous ruling imposing anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese solar panels. I’ll admit I was a bit surprised by the preliminary ruling just announced by the US International Trade Commission (ITC), as I’d previously predicted this latest action in the Sino-US solar trade dispute would quickly fizzle. Meantime, industry consolidation is continuing in China, where more than half the world’s solar panels are currently made, with word that...

Lessons From Tesla: Building An Ethanol Market

Jim Lane  E85 ethanol? Been stuck with low sales for years – with producers pointing to “no market access”.  Yet, Tesla was faced with “no market access” and built its own market. What lessons can be learned? Last week, Tesla Motors (NASD:TSLA) announced the completion of its transcontinental US Supercharger Corridor, a network of stations that enable Model S owners to (somewhat) rapidly recharge their Teslas on a cross-country drove. And intrepid Tesla blgger Hamish McKenzie relayed the news last week that two Tesla Model S sedans completed a 76-hour coast-to-coast all-electric crossing. The news follows...

Rentech: Pulp, Pellets and Fertilizer

by Debra Fiakas CFA A shareholder group has taken aim at alternative energy and fertilizer producer Rentech, Inc. (RTK:  Nasdaq), offering a slate of nominees for the next election of directors.  They claim Rentech management is overpaid and doing a very poor job of executing on the company’s strategic plans.  The nominees were a focus of discussion in the last post.  Now we will take a closer look at Rentech’s operations. The majority of Rentech’s revenue is generated from the sale of fertilizer products from the Company’s plants in Dubuque, Iowa and Pasadena, California.  Rentech earns...

End Draws Near for Suntech

Doug Young  Sunset looms for Suntech. Photo by Tom Konrad The month of February could mark the final sunset for solar panel maker Suntech (OTC: STPFQ), with 2 major events on the calendar that look like the swansong for this former solar energy pioneer. If the ending does indeed come, it would be almost a year after Suntech first was forced into bankruptcy in a Chinese court in its home city of Wuxi, kicking off a contentious process that saw many of its top executives and board members...

Solar Micro FiT 3.0 as an Investment

Brian Kennelly I am asked this question over and over again and I can answer quite emphatically, YES! Most think I answer that way because I’m a nut about renewable energy and sustainability and my business also sells solar arrays. These are valid points but I still maintain that the OPA FiT program is one of the best, secure and environmentally friendly investments you will ever make! Most people that know me probably are not aware that I was educated and began my career in finance and accounting. A very satisfying time, but alas my entrepreneurial urges got the...

Biofuels Companies Rev Up While Oilcos Sputter

Jim Lane  What’s going on – aren’t biofuels supposed to be dead, and fracking changing everything forever in oil & gas? Yet, tough times for growth at the public oil companies, while bellwether renewable fuel equities are on the rise. Why aren’t results tracking the hype? It’s earnings season time to look away from the pundits, the fans, and the Las Vegas oddsmakers and look squarely at who made how much, where, when and why. And time to draw some conclusions and look ahead towards the 2014 calendar year. Neste Oil (NEF.F) Renewable diesel owner/operator...

As Goes January? What the Pullback in Green Mutual Funds Means

By Harris Roen Alternative energy mutual funds and ETFs have pulled back from some of the fantastic gains seen in 2013. There is a saying in the investment world that “as goes January, so goes the year.” Is it time to bail on this sector, or on stocks in general? Perhaps, but wise long-term alternative energy investors should avoid rash steps at this juncture. Alternative Energy Fund Returns Mutual Funds are down about 4% on average year-to-date, and are basically flat for the past three months. Despite this, alternative energy mutual funds are up 22.7%...

Rentech: Do We Want The Sharpest Pencil?

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last month a shareholder group led by two of Rentech’s largest shareholders sent a letter to the biofuel developer’s board of directors.   Rentech, Inc. (RTK:  Nasdaq)) is adrift, the group claims.  The alternative energy business has failed.  The fertilizer plant is a bust and the wood pellet project is never going to deliver adequate return on invested capital.  What is more management is paid too much for the size of Rentech’s operations.  The group wants its own slate of nominees in the proxy for director positions. Rentech leadership responded to the letter with...

Renewable Energy Finance Outlook for 2014: Where Will the Cash Flow?

By all accounts, more money will be invested into renewables in 2014 than was invested in 2013. Our experts lay out where, why, when and how. Jennifer Runyon The world of renewable energy finance is vast: encompassing everything from venture capital funding for innovative start-ups, to research and development (R&D) and manufacturing expansion spending, to project finance and all the way through to investing in clean energy companies on the stock market. Because of that, for the general public, predicting where money will flow over the course of the next year is a shot in the...

Ten Clean Energy Stocks For 2014: February Update

Monthly update on NYSE:HASI, TSX:PFB,TSX:CSE,TSX:PRI,Amsterdam:ACCEL,TSX:NFI,NASD:AMRC,NYSE:PW,TSX:AXY,TSX:RPG,TSX:FVR