Smart Grid Sector Gaining Traction from Stimulus Funds

Digi International Positioned for Growthby Joyce Pellino CraneCaught between a maturing sector and a nascent one, Digi International, Inc., (Nasdaq:DGII) is stirring opposition among research analysts, who view its recent acquisitions as either a brazen entry into an emerging area, or a compensatory cover for poor performance.Over the past five years, the company has ventured into the smart grid sector through several acquisitions of wireless and cellular technology companies. One industry observer, who did not want to be quoted, said acquisitions artificially increase revenues during a down economy.  Another, who asked not to be identified, said the Digi...

Wind and Heat Pumps: A Winning Combination

This article has been cross-posted on The Oil Drum. Last month, I brought you some nice maps showing when and where good wind resources are found in the US.  Now I've found something better: a visual comparison of electrical load with wind farm production, published by the Western Area Power Administration in 2006.  The study compared electricity production from five wind farms in Northern Colorado, Southwestern Nebraska, and Central Wyoming in 2004, 2005, and the start of 2006, compared with electricity consumption in the same area over the same time period. Comparison of Wind Production to...

Ten Solid, Clean Companies Ready For Stimulus, and Five That Aren’t

by Tom Konrad Last February, I wrote " I expect the Fed-induced reprieve to be fairly short lived, ten solid companies I'd be happy to buy more of if and when the bottom really falls out of the market."  When I wrote those words, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was over 12,700.  Now, it's around 8,500, and I doubt anyone remembers the "Fed-induced reprieve" I was referring to.  The "bottom fell out" in September and October.    On October 12, with the DJIA at 8451, I wrote "I don’t know where the market will go from here, but I...

Grid-based Energy Storage: Widely Misunderstood Challenges and Opportunities

John Petersen The most widely misunderstood subject in the field of energy storage is the potential for grid-based applications. They fire the imagination because the grid is so pervasive and the need is so great. They also present immense challenges to storage technology developers because the fundamental economic value per unit of grid-based energy storage is very low. While the subject of grid-based storage provides rich fodder for media reports and political posturing, the reality bears little relation to the perception. On March 9th, Lux Research published a sorely needed reality check in a new report titled "Grid...

Energy Storage on the Smart Grid Will Be 99.45% Cheap and 0.55% Cool

7.17.09 Storage Week John Petersen Infocast’s Storage Week was all I had hoped it would be, and more. While I thoroughly enjoyed serving on three discussion panels and was warmly received by roughly 250 attendees, including executives of companies that I've occasionally criticized, the most important value for me came from the opportunity to hear four days of high-level presentations by industry executives, national thought leaders and policymakers who repeatedly stressed that: From a utility perspective grid-based energy storage is the functional equivalent of an instantly...
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EV Fast Charging Disincentives

by Daryl Roberts DC Fast Chargers (DCFCs) and Tesla superchargers are a key element in electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure that could facilitate wider adoption of EVs by enabling recharging that comes to resemble the time currently taken for gas station stops, and thereby reducing “range anxiety” for drivers. However, the pricing structure for electrical costs incurred at commercial DC fast chargers is currently prohibitive, because it includes a special fee called a “demand charge”. Rate design in a number of states includes this additional charge, based on the “peak rate” on electric power consumed in kW. In New York,...

How Energy Deregulation Affects States and Stocks

by Elaine Thompson Bloomberg New Energy Finance, in an executive summary of its New Energy Outlook 2017 report, predicts renewable energy sources will represent almost three-quarters of the $10.2 trillion the world will invest in new power-generating technology. Analysts outline several reasons for this increase in spending, such as the decreasing costs of wind and solar and consumers’ increasing interest in solar panels. Competition between power sources also continues to grow, with products like utility-scale batteries upsetting coal and natural gas’s roles in the marketplace. But more importantly, state-driven renewable portfolio standards pave the way for additional ventures in renewable energy technologies, particularly...
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Hopping Off The Short Enphase Bandwagon

by Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA Last week, I wrote that I'd taken a short position in Enphase Energy Inc. (ENPH). I have now closed out that position and don't intend to go short again. My decision to go short was based on four factors: I'm worried about risk in the overall market, and so am considering opportunistic short positions as a hedge. Prescience Point Capital Management released a report accusing Enphase of earnings manipulation. The report seemed well-researched from a purely accounting point of view. My favored indicator for avoiding companies which might be engaging in earnings manipulation, Beneish M-Score was...

Axion Power – A Battery Manufacturer Charging Forward

John Petersen Last week Debra Fiakas of Crystal Equity Research published an article titled "No Battery Producer Left Behind" that was based on old information about the relationship between Exide Technologies (XIDE) and Axion Power International (AXPW) and reached several erroneous conclusions. Since I'm a former Axion director, the stock is my biggest holding and I follow the company like a hawk, Tom Konrad asked me to clarify the record and present a high level overview of Axion's business history, stock market dynamics and technical accomplishments over the last four years. Since Tom's request is a...

How to Invest in the Pickens Plan

A friend recently asked me how to invest in the Pickens Plan.  I named a stock (see below). He then surprised me by saying "You are the fifth person I've asked, and no one else knew how.  Several said it could not be done." You can invest in T. Boone Pickens's plan.  Here's how: The Plan T. Boone's plan is both simple and audacious.   We will build wind farms all over the Great Plains. Build the necessary transmission to get that electricity to cities, displacing natural gas used in electricity generation for the use in automobiles.   This will...

Climate Change & Corporate Disclosure: Should Investors Care?

Charles Morand On Monday morning, I received an e-copy of a new research note by BofA Merrill Lynch arguing that disclosure by publicly-listed companies on the issue of climate change was becoming increasingly "important". The note claimed: "e believe smart investors and companies will recognize the edge they can gain by understanding low carbon trends." I couldn't agree more with that statement. It was no coincidence that on that same day the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a non-profit UK-based organization that surveys public companies each year on the state of their climate change awareness, was...

Tres Amigas Proposes Three-way Transmission Link

by Michael Giberson If completed, the Tres Amigas project will encourage renewable power development and efficient power flows.  Publicly traded wind power and superconducting cable company American Superconductor Corp. (Nasdaq: AMSC) is a large minority shareholder and the planned supplier. Tres Amigas LLC has proposed building a three-way superconducting HVDC link between the three separate power systems that span the United States and much of Canada: the Eastern Interconnection, the Western Interconnection, and the Texas (ERCOT) Interconnection.  The three systems currently are linked by a small number of separate and relatively unimportant DC interties.  The proposed three-way...

The Case For Transmission, and Transmission Stock List

by Tom Konrad CFA We cannot choose between transmission and renewable distributed electricity.  Local renewable generation requires long distance transmission to even out variations of supply.  Hence, both advocates of distributed renewables and large wind and solar farms should support transmission improvements.  Here are a few stocks which should benefit from such investments. Shortly after I launched Clean Energy Wonk, Blogger took the site down because I made the mistake of including both the words "Cheap" and "Free" in the title of an article about Energy Efficiency.  Since it can apparently take up to 2 months for a human...

Is AMSC Ready to Get Back to the Future?

Last week a jury found in favor of the United States government in a suit brought in 2013 by the Obama Administration against the Chinese wind turbine producer, Sinovel Wind Group (601558:  Shanghai).  Sinovel was found guilty of stealing technology from American Superconductor (AMSC:  Nasdaq) that had supplied Sinovel with converter hardware and software solutions.  Sinovel may have to pay hefty fines when the final sentencing step is completed in June 2018. American Superconductor (now called AMSC) had already brought a private suit against Sinovel in China two years before the Justice Department filed its case.  The China court dismissed the case for lack of...
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Bargain Priced Alternative Energy Stocks

A review of Crystal Equity Research’s novel alternative energy indices found a number of companies that have delivered exceptional price appreciation over the last year.  Several were reviewed in the recent post “Alternative Returns” on May 8th.  Expectations for growth appeared to be driving the price movement, so the last post “Quest for Growth” featured four companies from the indices for which analysts have posted high growth predictions.  Not unexpectedly some investors have already bid higher the stocks of those promising companies. In this post we go back to the lists to find the companies with both high growth predictions and low price-earnings...

Investment Ideas From the One-House Grid

In June, I wrote how intermittent power sources such as photovoltaics and wind would have to compete with baseload technologies such as IGCC "Clean Coal" and nuclear for capacity on the grid.  The key problem is that neither baseload technologies nor intermittent technologies are able to match themselves to the fluctuations of demand.  This creates a need for technologies which can fill the varying gaps between supply from these sources, and normal energy use.  From the comments, it seems like I was not completely clear how intermittent and baseload power cause problems for each other, so I will start...