Monthly Archives: September 2015

Regular, Premium, Super, and Renewable SuperDuper

Jim Lane Move over Super, here comes SuperDuper. All the high octane and performance, and the renewability too, at a price you can afford. Biofuels are adding options for drop-in, low-carbon, super-perfornance gasoline via isooctane and isooctene, as Gevo (GEVO) announces sales of isooctene to BCD Chemie, a subsidiary of Brenntag. In Colorado, Gevo said that it has begun selling renewable isooctene to BCD Chemie, a subsidiary of Brenntag. Initial orders in 2015 are expected to result in revenues to Gevo of over $1 million. And you might wonder why that matters. The performance appeal? One,...

BioNitrogen: Valuable Technology, Management Questions

by Debra Fiakas CFA My last post outlined how  Bion Environmental Technologies, Inc. (BNET: OTC/QB) is transforming livestock waste into organic fertilizer.  Bion is not the only aspiring fertilizer producer.  BioNitrogen Holdings Corp. (BION:  OTC/PK) was recently patent protection for a process to produce urea from stranded natural gas.  Instead of burning off the unwanted gases, oil and gas operators can turn it into an economically viable by-product. There is more than just cash flow at stake for oil and gas producers.  Burning off stranded gas increases harmful emission that can lead to penalties in the...

Sharp Drops for Alternative Energy Mutual Funds and ETFs

By Harris Roen Alternative Energy Mutual Funds Down for the Quarter, Mixed for the Year Alternative energy mutual funds have turned sharply lower over the past three months. Of the 14 MFs that the Roen Financial Report tracks, all but one are down for the quarter. Five are posting double-digit declines. On average, the drop in MFs are similar to that of the S&P 500 and Down Jones Industrial Average, which fell 7.44% and 9.6% respectively. The only MF showing a gain… ETFs are Widely Lower Green ETFs are showing poor returns on both a...

The Economics of Biofuels: Crack, Crush and Fuse

Jim Lane In oil & gas and biofuels, we hear about crack spread and crush spread. But fuse spread is a critical factor in advanced, low-carbon fuels. Here’s the what and why and who. The most fundamental economic in the oil & gas business has historically been the crack spread, which is the price difference between the value of crude oil and the underlying products after refined, or “cracked”. For example, Brent crude oil costs $49 a barrel right now, or $1.17 per gallon, while front month RBOB gasoline prices at $1.42 per gallon, and...

King of the Cow Pats

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last week Bion Environmental Technologies, Inc. (BNET: OTC/QB) announced that the company has applied for patent protection of a process to recover nitrogen from livestock waste.  The process yields a crystalline, water-soluble fertilizer product that is about 12% to 15% nitrogen.  Since the nitrogen is extracted from the livestock waste without the use of chemicals and leaves behind potentially toxic salts, metals and minerals, the company is also applying for certification as an organic material. The company believes there will be a strong demand in the agriculture sector for its products. ...

Solar Weaklings Shudder on Tianwei Collapse

Doug Young  Bottom line: The bankruptcy of Tianwei signals Beijing will allow a new round of failures for weaker solar panel makers, with Yingli and ReneSola the most likely to come under pressure. News that solar panel material maker Baoding Tianwei is on the brink of collapse has sent shudders through the entire sector, as everyone guesses who might be next to fall in a looming new clean-up of China’s bloated industry. Tianwei has been in trouble for a while now, after the company became the first state-run firm to ever default on a domestic bond interest payment back...

EPA Says VW Running Massive Clean Air Scam

Jim Lane  VW is facing up to $18.07 billion in fines; recalls, mandatory vehicle emission fixes on the horizon; investigations underway at EPA and in California as “defeat devices” uncovered that evade clean air regulations. In Washington, EPA issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. alleging that four-cylinder Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars from model years 2009-2015 carry a “defeat device” which circumvents EPA emissions standards for certain air pollutants. Specifically, the EPA alleges that a sophisticated software algorithm on certain Volkswagen vehicles detects...

Tetra Tech: Energy Engineer

by Debra Fiakas CFA In the coming years power generators will be under pressure to meet new standards for lower carbon emissions embedded in the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.  Each state has to meet a set of standards set by the EPA based that state’s particular circumstances in electrical generation.  The carbon pollution limits begin in 2022 and ramp to full effect by 2030. Power generators could meet standards by reducing harmful emissions from existing fossil fuel-fire plants.  Unfortunately, that may prove too costly at some of the older plants.  It is logical that power generators...

Demand Picture Cloudy For Trina’s Solar Farm Spin-Off

Doug Young Bottom line: Trina’s plan to separately list its solar plant-building assets is likely to meet with lukewarm to frosty demand. A new plan by Trina (NYSE: TSL) to separately list some capital-intensive assets has overtones of desperation. The intense pressure solar panel makers continue to feel as their sector still struggles to recover from a downturn that dates back 4 years due to massive oversupply. Panel prices have rebounded somewhat over the last 2 years and many of the best-run companies have returned to profitability during that time. Even better performers like Trina are feeling pressure...

Yingli’s Downward Spiral

Doug Young Bottom line: Yingli’s downward spiral will continue as customers abandon the company due to its financial weakness. Shares of the stumbling Yingli (NYSE: YGE) are coming under pressure after its latest earnings report. The intense pressure solar panel makers continue to feel as their sector still struggles to recover from a downturn that dates back 4 years due to massive oversupply.  Panel prices have rebounded somewhat over the last 2 years and many of the best-run companies have returned to profitability during that time. But intense pressure still remains for less well-run companies like Yingli. ...

Light at the End of the Tunnel for Lightbridge

by Debra Fiakas CFA The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to execute on the Clean Power Plan aimed at reducing carbon emissions from U.S. power generation facilities.  Each state has to meet a set of standards set by the EPA based that state’s particular circumstances in electrical generation.  The carbon pollution limits begin in 2022 and ramp to full effect by 2030. In the meantime, the power generation industry must begin preparation in order to be ready for the initial standards.  The lower-carbon emitting power sources will clearly be in favor as a consequence of the...

Ethanol Missed The Boat; Isobutanol May Not

Jim Lane  E-Zero – ethanol-free gas, has been popular with boaters, but here comes isobutanol, with Gevo leading the pack. Are the economics a slam-dunk? Here’s the hard data. One of the more interesting trends in recent years has been the rise of ethanol-free gasoline. Overall, Pure-gas.com reports 9915 stations offering ethanol-free gas in the US and Canada although it is a crowd-sourced site and may have missed stations adding or dropping E0 fuels. The site does not include stations in Alaska because “all gasoline is ethanol-free.” 314 of those are in Canada. That’s around three...

The Biogas Rush

Jim Lane  51 percent? Could renewable natural gas get that big? The rationale behind the Eureka!, and some Caveats for all you Emptors. A few years back we lived in the era of the National Energy Solution Summed Up in One Word: it was gasoline, then diesel, then ethanol, or biodiesel. Then there was the Two-Word Era: in p[art because of an Inconvenient Truth, the craze was on for cellulosic ethanol, algae biofuels, aviation biofuels, and there was the Hydrogen Economy or the Glucose Economy, depending on who you were talking to. We seem...

Ten Clean Energy Stocks For 2015: Buying Opportunities

Tom Konrad Ph.D., CFA In the two months since my last "monthly" update, the stock market has been in turmoil.  At the end of June, I was pleased report that my Ten Clean Energy Stocks for 2015 model portfolio was not only up for the year, it was comfortably ahead of its benchmarks.  At the end of August, the report is of a more win-the-battle-lose-the-war variety. The portfolio is still ahead of its benchmarks, but it's now down 1% for the year to date. The portfolio lost 4.8% in July and 5.7% in August, to end...

Blue Sphere’s Eyes On The Horizon

by Debra Fiakas CFA Renewable energy companies have to worry about flagging commodity prices that make it even more difficult to prove the competitive potential of alternative fuels, as well as possible disruption in the capital markets and valuation multiples which are concerns of all public companies. Shlomi Palas, the CEO of  Blue Sphere, Inc. (BLSP:  OTC/QB), a microcap in the Crystal Equity Research coverage group, is not dissuaded.  He continues to push forward with the company’s strategy to own and operate biofuel-powered, grid-connected generation facilities.  Blue Sphere has two food-waste-to-energy plants under construction...