Energy Storage: A Turbulent Second Quarter Foretells Major Changes

John Petersen The second quarter was a turbulent period for investors in the energy storage and vehicle electrification sectors. Johnson Controls (JCI), C&D Technologies (CHHP.PK) and the enchanted, mystical, gravity defying Tesla Motors (TSLA) were up a little. Everybody else was down as fear, loathing and uncertainty ran rampant and the congenital birth defects of EVs and batteries to power them proved to be insurmountable obstacles for all but St. Elon of Palo Alto, the patron saint of expensive toys. While the second quarter wasn't pleasant for most of the companies I track, I draw some comfort...

ePower’s Series Hybrid Electric Drive – Unmatched Fuel Economy for Heavy Trucks

John Petersen Over the last couple weeks there’s been a lot of message board chatter about ePower Engine Systems, a transportation technology company that has selected the PbC® battery from Axion Power International (AXPW) for its series hybrid electric drivetrain for over-the-road freight haulers who drive heavy Class 8 tractors. Since I introduced ePower to Axion and have tracked their progress for a couple years, I called ePower’s CEO Andy Claypole to ask his permission to share what I’ve learned about ePower’s hybrid electric drivetrain. After a series of phone calls and e-mails, Andy graciously...

Current Picks: Busses and Energy Efficiency

Over the weekend, EnergyTechStocks published two articles based on an interview with me. The first was about my conviction that Peak Oil induced rising gas prices is going to lead to a rush into mass transit building by cities, or investing in mode-shifting last September.  I've since written about opportunities in rail transit stocks, (P.TO, TRN, PRPX, and WAB), and more recently Hedging your peak oil risk with your lifestyle.  However, I have been frustrated until now that the only pure play bus stock I've been able to find is Firstgroup PLC (FGP.L, FGROF.PK), the British based owner of...

Hydrogen Fuel Is Not Dead

John Lounsbury With the furor over the potential for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric cars recently, one might think the hydrogen car was dead. Nothing could be further from the truth. Feasibility at an affordable price appears to be established and market availability of hydrogen powered cars may come sooner than you think. Many issues remain to be addressed and this article will try to cover them. The problems to be overcome are not insurmountable, but are also not trivial. These problems include the economics of hydrogen production, transportation, distribution and...

Lux Research Confirms that Cheap Will Beat Cool in Vehicle Electrification

John Petersen On March 30th, Lux Research released an update on the vehicle electrification market titled "Small Batteries, Big Sales: The Unlikely Winners in the Electric Vehicle Market" that predicts: E-bikes and micro-hybrids carry minimal storage, but compensate with high volume. E-bikes show strong unit sales, as they sustain a 157 GWh storage market totaling $24.3 billion in revenues in 2016. Micro-hybrids benefit from increasingly stringent emissions limits, supporting 41 GWh and $3.1 billion in storage sales. Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) like Toyota's Prius grow steadily while PHEVs and EVs are at the mercy of external factors....

The Big Oil-Electric Vehicle Connection

Neal Dikeman For those of you interested in the sector under the sector in electric vehicles, the guts of Li Ion battery technology, the week just got more interesting than an overpriced, over hyped Tesla (TSLA) IPO. Check out a very quiet unnanouncement in A123's SEC filings noting a multi-year supply deal with ConocoPhillips' Cpreme, the emerging leader in anode materials for Li On batteries.  The technology is a processing technology to make high performance graphite based powders out of plain old petroleum coke materials, that has the potential to be very low cost at scale.  A123 has...

Energy Storage: A Bloody Q3 is Creating a Great Buying Opportunity

John Petersen Tom Lehrer is frequently credited with a quip that perfectly summarizes my feeling about the financial markets in the third quarter, "Apart from that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?" During the quarter we were given box seats to classic political opera in two acts. Act One was set in Washington DC while Act Two moved to Europe so we could hear the same tortured songs of woe in a different language. We all know the opera has to end with the immensely popular "Kick the Can Chorus," but we suspended disbelief, bought into...

Altair Nanotechnologies Achieves Milestone in Development of Nano-Powered Batteries for Electric and Hybrid Electric...

Altair Nanomaterials (ALTI) announced it has completed a safety testing cycle for lithium ion battery products that represents a significant step forward in the effort to develop lithium ion batteries that are safe enough to be used in electric-powered automobiles. Although lithium ion batteries are the predominant power source for cell phones, laptop computers and many other small electronic devices, safety concerns related to the potential for explosion, typically caused by charging malfunctions or extremes of temperature, have so far proved to be a vexing obstacle to using lithium ion batteries to power electric and hybrid electric vehicles...

Keynes Meets Carson, And How You Can Invest It (Part 1)

I'm not sure whether John Maynard Keynes, the father of Keynesian economics and an ardent proponent of government interventionism during hard economic times, and Rachel Carson, the mother of modern environmentalism and the author whose work is credited for the eventual creation of the EPA, ever met during their lifetimes. But if current voter sentiment holds until November 4, their ideas could soon converge and form the basis of government policy for at least the next four years. Let me explain. First, John Maynard Keynes. There is no doubt that the deliberate and coordinated nationalization of financial services...

The Best Peak Oil Investments: GPS Navigation Stocks

Tom Konrad, CFA Satellite (GPS) navigation is a Smart Transport strategy that drivers can implement without waiting for governments to act.  This is a look at five GPS Navigation stocks.    I recently wrote how Smart Transport stocks may benefit from declining supply and increasing demand for oil.   I call the application of information technology (IT) to transportation "Smart Transportation."  Smart Transportation improves the function of the market for transportation services, just as the Smart Grid improves the market for electricity: by giving market participants better information and making the price of transportation better reflect...

Why Long Range EVs Can Never Be Cost Effective

by John Petersen America’s love affair with the automobile has always been based on the freedom of the road and the ability to hop in the car and drive wherever we want to go; be it to the corner store to buy a loaf of bread or out to the lake for a long weekend. Even though most of our trips are short, people invariably want the flexibility to go for a long drive when the open road beckons. Unfortunately, that mentality is disastrous when it comes to EV economics. I’ve been writing about energy...

Just One Sector – Fuel Efficiency Pure Plays

John Petersen In 1789 Benjamin Franklin wrote "in this world nothing is certain but death and taxes." Today he probably would have written "in this world nothing is certain but death, taxes and rising oil prices." There's no escaping the misery, but astute investors who take the time to understand the fundamental trends can profit as the misery unfolds. For the short term, I'm convinced the biggest opportunities will be in fuel efficiency technologies for cars and light trucks. After 20 years of complacent stagnation, the US started to get serious about light-duty vehicle fuel efficiency in...

Storm Warnings For Lithium-ion Batteries and Electric Vehicles

John Petersen Before moving to Switzerland in 1998 I lived and worked in Houston, Texas, a place that teaches you the importance of keeping an eye on long-term weather forecasts, particularly during hurricane season. Most of the time it turns out to be wasted effort because Mother Nature is fickle and highly unpredictable, but when it's important it's really important. The same logic holds for investments in energy storage and electric vehicle technologies. You have to keep a close eye on the industrial and regulatory climate and be ready to change your plans when conditions change. For...

My Portfolio’s Latest Casualty And Addition

The Casualty Last Monday, I discussed how I had recently reviewed Railpower Tech with a view to potentially adding to my position on grounds that: (a) the company had a fair amount of cash in the bank, which reduced the need to go to capital markets for financing for a while; and (b) that it was getting badly battered by general market conditions, potentially offering an attractive entry point. Although my portfolio has taken a beating in recent weeks, I remain ready to take small positions in stocks if I feel they are being unfairly bashed, including in...

Gas Price Demand Elasticity

Here is an interesting article on the Carbon Tax Blog about dropping gas usage in the US due to sustained high prices.  As I've said before, now that peaking oil supply has made gasoline supply inelastic, price will have to be set by marginal demand... we're beginning to get a look at what the demand elasticity for gasoline is. But gas prices are not dropping.  US demand may actually be elastic, but world demand is not yet showing elasticity.  In large part, this is because most emerging economies and oil producing company consumers enjoy fixed price oil, courtesy of...

Who Killed the Electric Bus?

In the last Technology Quarterly, The Economist had a story about the electric busses in 1907 London.  As they tell it, the electric bus had a real chance to beat out the internal combustion engine, and the company only failed because of fraud.  The electric technology was in many ways superior to the internal combustion engines which eventually won out. In fact, many people at the time still considered the horse to be the far superior technology.  These days, the battle is still between the same three fuels: Electric, Petroleum, and biomass (grass and oats for the...
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