Welcome To The New World

Perhaps ironically, it took one of the worst financial and economic crises of the past three decades to bring "the grid" into investor focus. To be sure, certain alt energy aficionados such as Tom have been on this topic for a long time (Tom is actually the one who introduced me to the grid as an investment theme). However, it is fair to say that most investors, including alt energy investors, have not historically paid the grid a huge deal of attention. That is because most people outside of alt energy and VC circles held, until recently, the Old...

2010: The Year of the Strong Grid? Part V: Hubbell Inc.

Tom Konrad, CFA Hubbell Inc. (HUB-B) is a strong grid stock that also has strong financials, signaled by a recent dividend increase. I came across Hubbell Inc. (HUB-B) when researching General Cable (BGC) for my recent article on the company.  Just one more example of when you start researching a sector, (in this case electrical transmission and distribution, or "strong grid") you never know what new companies you may find. Hubbell is a diversified electrical supplier, serving electric utility, residential, commercial, and industrial markets worldwide.  About a quarter (26%) of its revenue comes from the "Power...

If I Could Own Only One Alternative Energy Stock, It Would Be . ....

Bill Paul My friend Consuelo Mack, host of "Consuelo Mack's Wealthtrack" on PBS TV, asks her guests for their "one investment pick." What's my one alternative energy stock pick? A year ago on Consuelo's show, I recommended LED lighting developer Cree Inc. (Symbol CREE), because the LED lighting market (part of the burgeoning energy efficiency sector) is expected to hit upwards of $5 billion by 2013 v. $600 million in 2008, according to investment banking firm Merriman, Curhan, Ford, and because Cree was then an attractive takeover candidate. It still is; however, since the stock has since risen something...

Drawing the Right Lessons from the Texas "Wind" Emergency

On February 26, 2008, a drop in wind generation by about 1400 MW over ten minutes, coupled with an increase in demand of 4412 MW due to colder weather, and lower-than scheduled production from other power suppliers, led ERCOT, the Texas grid operator to cut 1100 MW of power to interruptible customers for about 90 minutes.   Misconceptions All these facts come from a Reuters article misleadingly titled "Loss of wind causes Texas power grid emergency."  I was dismayed a few weeks ago when this misleading reporting led the generally insightful Master Resource Report to conclude "This is a clear...

Our Smart Grid Stock List

Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA I've been writing about the smart grid and its potential since before I joined AltEnergyStocks, in 2007, although at the time, I wasn't using the term: I mostly called it "Smart Metering."  Now, Smart Grid is a central part of federal stimulus plans, and the term is firmly ensconced in the popular lexicon.  GE even created a Super Bowl ad around the Smart Grid (video). It was far past time to create a Smart Grid category in our Alternative Energy Stock List, but now we've done it.  The companies in the Smart Grid Stock List...

Grid-scale Energy Storage: Lux Predicts $113.5 Billion in Global Demand by 2017

John Petersen Last month Lux Research released a bottom-up evaluation of the cost effectiveness of eight energy storage technologies in six grid-scale applications throughout 44 countries, including all 50 U.S. states. Their report titled "Grid Storage under the Microscope: Using Local Knowledge to Forecast Global Demand" predicts that annual global demand for grid-scale energy storage will reach an astounding 185.4 gigawatt-hours (GWh) by 2017 and represent a $113.5 billion incremental revenue opportunity for an industry that currently generates sales of $50 to $60 billion a year. In the grid-scale sector alone, Lux predicts an average...

Keynes Meets Carson, And How You Can Invest It (Part 2)

Two weeks ago, I brought you the first of a series of two articles on how you can play the clean infrastructure build-out that could come as a result of an Obama victory today. In that article, I made the point that the political and economic ideology that had prevailed in America over the past 30 years, economic laisser-faire, had been severely undermined by the recent credit meltdown and what now looks like it will be the worse economic shock in a generation or more. I further argued that the increasing sidelining of the "small government" discourse in...

Solar PV Inverter Market Shakeout Continues With ABB and Power-One Deal

James Montgomery A pair of analyst reports issued last week came to roughly the same conclusion about the market for solar PV inverters: It's getting crowded and complicated, with top incumbents facing challenges in maintaining near-term growth in an increasingly fragmented market. Those PV inverter stalwarts will need to pursue more restructuring and mergers & acquisitions to stay atop the shifting and broadening customer base, addressing everything from tough-to-crack markets (e.g. China, Japan) and embracing newer technologies such as module-level power conversion, i.e. microinverters, say IMS Research and GTM Research. This consolidation has already started to play...

Powering Advanced Energy

by Debra Fiakas CFA Solar power producers have many challenges.  One is the direct current to alternating current dilemma.  Solar panels create power that flows one way in a direct current (DC).  We use electricity in our homes and businesses in alternating current (AC) that flows both directions, forward and backward.  So solar cell producers must use solar inverters that convert the electricity from the direct current in the solar panel into alternating current. This is where Advanced Energy Industries, Inc. (AEIS:  Nasdaq) comes in. AEIS makes power inverters for the solar power industry.  The...
Enphase M-Score

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...

Inexpensive Grid Stability Solutions

Tom Konrad, CFA With all the discussion of grid based energy storage for renewable energy integration, the two cheapest and most mature solutions are overlooked.  They are also the solutions most often overlooked by investors captivated by the story of clean technology. A few years ago, I put together some graphs to show this as dramatically as possible.  I surveyed the available data on energy storage and other grid integration technologies for the costs of existing installations, and calculated average cost per installed kW (power), per installed kWh (energy) and round trip efficiency (the percent of energy...

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...

Geothermal Transmission 101

Paul Schwabe Among renewable resources, one of the most valuable attributes of geothermal electricity is the baseload characteristic of the energy resource. That is, geothermal electricity generators are able to deliver a stable level of power production over time. Yet for better or worse, this baseload characteristicalong with other notable factors such as size constraints and varying market segmentsreveals that interconnecting a geothermal plant to a transmission or distribution system poses unique challenges compared to other renewable energy technologies . A recent report by NREL, "Geothermal Power and Interconnection: The Economics of Getting to the Market," delves...

SMA Solar’s Transformerless Inverter Provides Power During Outages

Ed Gunther From Solar Light Flashes: SPI12 Edition Sunny Boy TL-US Inverter SMA Solar Technology AG (ETR:S92) will begin limited shipments of the transformerless Sunny Boy 3000/4000/5000TL-US-22 inverter series for 3 to 5 kiloWatt rated AC power PV systems in 4Q12. The TL-US series has added a unique Emergency Power Supply feature providing daytime power to a dedicated power socket in the event of a grid power outage. The power socket is isolated from the grid during the outage and supplies up to 12 Amps so long as...

Is the New Smart Grid ETF GRID All That Smart?

Tom Konrad, CFA First Trust Launched a Grid Infrastructure Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) on November 17th.  Although the First Trust Nasdaq Clean Edge Smart Grid Infrastructure Index Fund (Nasdaq: GRID) is labeled a "Smart Grid" ETF to capture popular excitement around smart grid technology, it covers the whole grid infrastructure sector.  This broader focus is good for clean energy investors. I've been an advocate of investing in electric transmission and smart gird stocks since early 2007, and for almost a year now, a regular reader has been telling me to create a transmission ETF so he can buy...

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...