The Best Peak Oil Investments, Part III: Natural Gas Vehicles

Tom Konrad CFA There are many proposed solutions to the liquid fuels scarcity caused be stagnating (and eventually falling) oil supplies combined with growing demand in emerging economies.  Some will be good investments, others won't.  Here is where I'm putting my money, and why.  This third part looks at the possibility of displacing gasoline with natural gas, by converting vehicles to natural gas. In Part II of this series, I listed five potential substitutes that have been proposed to replace oil as limited supply and growth in developing markets draw oil away from traditional users.  These were:...

The Alternative Energy Fallacy

John Petersen In 2009, the world produced some 13.2 billion metric tons of hydrocarbons, or about 4,200 pounds for every man, woman and child on the planet. Burning those hydrocarbons poured roughly 31.3 billion metric tons of CO2 into our atmosphere. The basic premise of alternative energy is that widespread deployments of wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles will slash hydrocarbon consumption, reduce CO2 emissions and give us a cleaner, greener and healthier planet. That premise, however, is fatally flawed because our planet cannot produce enough non-ferrous industrial metals to make a meaningful difference and the prices...

Altair Nanotechnologies Lithium Ion Battery Cells Exceed HEV Power Requirements of U.S. FreedomCAR

Altair Nanomaterials (ALTI) announced that its battery research and development team successfully completed a testing program for lithium ion battery cells containing Altairnano's nano-structured lithium titanate electrode materials. "The test results demonstrated that the performance of these lithium ion battery cells exceed the system-level power requirements set forth by the U.S. Council for Automotive Research FreedomCAR Energy Storage System Performance Goals for hybrid electric vehicle (HEVs), as well as those requirements published by major U.S. automakers," said Evan House, Ph.D., Program Director, Altairnano's Advanced Materials & Power Systems business unit. These batteries demonstrate a useable state-of-charge...

FedEx Expands Low Emission Vehicle Program to New York

The FedEx OptiFleet E700 hybrid electric vehicles began delivering packages on routes in the New York metropolitan area following an agreement with NYSERDA to demonstrate the viability of lower-emission hybrid powertrains in heavy-duty vehicles. The roll out took place today at a FedEx facility on 48th Street and 12th Avenue in Manhattan. "New York City is a dynamic economy with many trucks on its streets essential to keep commerce moving, so it is important that we continue to develop innovative solutions to reduce vehicle emissions," said John Formisano, Vice President of Global Vehicles, FedEx Express. "Today's roll-out not...
car insurers and community solar

Car Insurers Can Help Community Solar Find EV Customers

By Joe McCabe, P.E. The insurance industry has lots of exposure to climate change. But as Warren Buffet has explained, not so much for companies that do annual policy adjustments, like Berkshire Hathaway. Their exposure is limited because the trends are baked into the premiums. But there is an opportunity for reducing insurance risk due to climate change, and it comes from the insurance industry itself. The business model is to have car insurance salespeople provide leads to virtual electric car charging services. This has perfect demographics because electric vehicle owners are very receptive to solar electricity. Who wouldn't want...

Compared to what: the low-down on alt energy subsidies

For now, electrics have won a fan base, but bio seems to be doing a better job of advancing the technology, reducing or eliminating tax credits, and giving customers more power of choice when it comes to selecting a car. The reason – bio-based is more affordable, and generally more infrastructure-compatible.

Lux Boosts Their Micro-Hybrid Vehicle Forecast to 39,000,000 Cars a Year By 2017

John Petersen A couple days ago Lux Research published a new report titled “Every Last Drop: Micro‐ And Mild Hybrids Drive a Huge Market for Fuel‐Efficient Vehicles” that focuses on rapidly growing markets for micro-hybrid vehicles and their battery systems. During 2011, automakers sold an estimated 5,000,000 micro-hybrids worldwide, mainly in Europe. By 2017, Lux forecasts global micro-hybrid sales of 39,000,000 cars a year and a $6.3 billion annual market for their battery systems, which represents an across the board average of $161 per vehicle compared to an auto industry average of less than $60 per...

Shell Deal Great For Westport But Not For Clean Energy Fuels

by Clean Energy Intel Westport Innovations (WPRT), provider of natural gas engine technology, received a major boost following the announcement of a co-marketing program with Royal Dutch Shell (RDS-A). Understandably, Westport itself rose 19.4% on the day. Perhaps less understandable was the 13.2% rise seen by Clean Energy Fuels (CLNE). The agreement between Westport and Shell launches a co-marketing program in North America aimed at providing an integrated commercial solution for customers in the natural gas vehicle field. You can read a full description of the program in the press statement from Westport here. In essence, the agreement aims "at providing...

EPA Approves 60-MPG SMART Car, Clears Way for U.S. Sales by ZAP

ZAP (ZAPZ) annouces that after five years on the market in Europe, the 60-MPG SMART car was granted a certificate of conformity by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, clearing the way for U.S. sales.

More Common Sense in Energy Storage Investing

John Petersen Since last week's article, Common Sense in Energy Storage Investing, was well-received by readers who've recently discovered this blog and want to better understand the energy storage sector, I've decided to continue with the theme and drill down deeper into some broad issues. Most of today's material is pretty basic stuff, but when the hype machine starts spinning a firm grasp on economic reality and investment fundamentals can be important to investors that want to avoid a boom and bust bubble like we had in corn ethanol. In the fall of 2008 I confessed to...

Why You Should Not Join a Portec Rail Products (PRPX) Class Action Lawsuit

Tom Konrad, CFA Portec Rail Products (PRPX) agreed to be acquired by L. B. Foster Company (FSTR) on February 17. At least four law firms have started class action suits against the Portec board.  Here is why not to join any of them. Portec Rail Products has been a longtime favorite of mine.  It's profitable, and delivers valuable services to the rail and rail transit industries.  This article goes into a lot more detail as to why I like Portec.  In large part because of the acquisition, Portec is the best performing of my Ten Clean Energy...

What’s Going On With Beacon Power and RailPower Tech?

Two diametrically-opposed stories for this post: Beacon Power and RailPower Tech . The latter is up 134% on its week-ago closing price, while the former is down nearly 22% over the same period. Beacon Power Corp I wrote about Beacon Power a little while ago. The recent drop in share price is due in large part to the fact that Beacon announced, last Friday (Dec. 29), a glitch at one of its testing facilities in Massachusetts. This was followed by an analyst at Merriman Curhan Ford downgrading the company from Buy to Hold. Almost immediately, the...

Maxwell Technologies in the Balance

Tom Konrad CFA Will Chinese hybrid bus subsidies be renewed?  The answer will be crucial for Maxwell Technologies (NASD:MXWL) in the coming months. I, and most analysts following ultra-capacitor manufacturer Maxwell Technologies, (NASD:MXWL) were considerably surprised at the strength of its third quarter earnings.  China had failed to renew subsidies for hybrid buses in the third quarter, and Chinese hybrid bus manufacturers have long been a significant part of Maxwell’s business. Hybrid bus sales, even without subsidy, ended up better than I expected, accounting for 30% of Maxwell’s ultra-capacitor sales in the quarter.  Also helping results were strong...
efficient vehicles, electric vehicles

List of Efficient Vehicle Stocks

Efficient vehicle stocks are publicly traded companies that produce technologies allow cars, trucks, aircraft and ships to travel the same distance and carry the same loads using less fuel.  Includes electric and hybrid electric vehicles, as well as other improvements that reduce fuel use.  Similar to Alternative Transportation stocks, which reduce overall fuel use by shifting passengers or freight to more efficient types of vehicles. AeroVironment, Inc. (AVAV) BorgWarner (BWA) Blink Charging Co. (BLNK) BYD Company, Ltd. (BYDDY) CDTI Advanced Materials, Inc. (CDTI) CPS Technologies Corp. (CPSH) Enova Systems, Inc. (ENVS) EEStor Corporation (ZNNMF) Elio Motors, Inc. (ELIO) Evolve Funds Automobile Innovation Index ETF (CARS.TO) Envision Solar International (EVSI) Gentherm, Inc....

War With Iran? Buy Alternative Energy Stocks.

September is starting out as the month of speculation about a massive three day air strike on Iran.  Is Bush ready to attack Iran while our troops are still trying to stabilize both Afghanistan and Iraq?  In February, administration officials were denying it.   The preparations now going on could simply be the stick part of a negotiating strategy; the bad cop to Russia's good cop.  But Bush's chances of successful cooperation with Putin could be better. What if? If Bush does launch a massive three day air strike on Iran, what will that mean for alternative energy stocks?  I...

Zoltek: High in Fiber, Low in Valuation

by Debra Fiakas CFA   The Stohr DSR has an all carbon fiber body (Photo credit: Rhots/Wikimedia Commons)   Zoltek Companies (ZOLT:  Nasdaq) is in the business of fibers, mostly carbon fibers.  Plain, simple fibers may not seem very impressive.  However, Zoltek’s carbon fibers are in wide demand for renewable energy applications such as wind turbines blades and deep sea oil and gas wells.  After two years swimming in red ink, Zoltek has managed to bring sales back up to 2008 levels.  The company earned $22.9 million in...