The Efficiency Tango: A Deeper Look at Geothermal Heat Pump Efficiency

Tom Konrad CFA Geothermal heat pump diagram via Bigstock A couple weeks ago, I compared the efficiency of the two most advanced geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) recently launched by Waterfurnace Renewable Energy (TSX:WFI, OTC:WFIFF) and Climatemaster, as division of LSB Industries (NYSE:LXU).  Like most things in life, it turns out that heat pump efficiency is a lot more complicated than just comparing a couple numbers. Since I concluded that Waterfurnace’s 7  Series heat pumps were slightly more efficient than Climatemaster’s Trilogy 40 pumps, one of Climatemaster’s district managers pointed me...

Put the LIME in the Coconut

by Debra Fiakas CFA You put the lime in the coconut and call the doctor woke him up, I said Doctor! Is there nothing I can take, I said Doctor! To relieve this bellyache… -Baha Men It is best to avoid corporate drama that involves unexpected resignations and unscheduled week-end board meetings.  At least that is my view.  However, the company soap operas can be entertaining, so I decided to tune into the Lime Energy, Inc. (LIME:  Nasdaq) saga .  Based in North Carolina, Lime provides a menu of energy-saving solutions to utilities and large-facility owners.  Lime's product...

Waterfurnace 7 Series vs. Climatemaster Trilogy Geothermal Heat Pumps: The Best of the Best

UPDATE: I just looked into the 7 Series vs the Trilogy 40 in more detail here and came to a slightly different conclusion. Tom Konrad CFA Geothermal heat pump diagram via Bigstock Waterfurnace Renewable Energy (TSX:WFI, OTC:WFIFF) launched its new highly efficient 7 Series geothermal heat pumps (GHP) today.  The 7 Series commercial release beats Climatemaster’s (a division of LSB Industries (NYSE:LXU)) Trilogy 40 as the first commercially available GHP with a variable speed compressor.  The Trilogy 40 is currently available as part of a pilot program, and is expected to be commercially available...

Green Shoots for Green Building: Seven Stocks to Play the Trend

Tom Konrad CFA Rockwool insulation (Photo: Achim Hering) Signs of Green Building Growth Rockwool International (COP:ROCK-B,OTC:RKWBF) recently announced the establishment of the insulation manufacturer’s first US factory, in Mississippi, about 30 miles outside Memphis, Tennessee.  The firm has been seeing double-digit annual sales growth in North America, driven by interest from do-it-yourself chains and insulating commercial buildings, and expects this growth to continue. The company’s rock wool insulation, sustainably made from stone and recycled materials, can provide improved fire protection when compared to traditional insulation products. Rockwool is far...

Geothermal Heat Pumps: The Next Generation

Tom Konrad CFA The most efficient way to heat and cool a building just got more efficient. Geothermal heat pump diagram via Bigstock Climatemaster, a division of LSB Industries (NYSE:LXU), recently announced that their new Trilogy 40 geothermal heat pump (GHP) had been certified by the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) to exceed 40 Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) under ground loop conditions. EER is the ratio of effective cooling (heat removed) to the energy used, at maximal load, and is the standard...

Lime Energy Gets $2.5M to Fund Growth of Utility Business

Tom Konrad CFA I was surprised when Lime Energy (NASD:LIME) announced that it was selling a million shares to Richard Kiphart, one of its own directors and its largest shareholder.  Last year, CEO John O’Rourke had told me that Lime  expected to reach profitability without having to raise additional capital. What happened in the meantime? It was the best of Limes, It was the worst of Limes Two things had happened, one bad, one good. The bad was that Lime’s C&I business turned in a particularly weak first quarter, cutting expected profits by a little over $1...

Who’s a Fat Cat?

Tom Konrad CFA A Fat Cat. Photo of "Cauchy" by author. Friday, in a generally positive article about Lime Energy (NASD:LIME), I noted that the top five executives at the company seemed overpaid in comparison to one of their nearest rivals, Orion Energy Systems (NYSE:OESX).  Since this was not based on in-depth research, and is a pretty serious allegation about a company I’m otherwise enthusiastic about, I decided to do some more digging. Who is a Fat Cat? Using data on executive pay from Morningstar, I compared executive pay at...

PFB Corp Integrates Upstream, Just in Time for Green Housing Market Upturn

Tom Konrad CFA On May 9, green building firm PFB Corporation (TSX:PFB, OTC:PFBOF) announced that it had signed a letter of intent with NOVA Chemicals for PFB to acquire NOVA’s Performance Styrenics business.  The all share deal will give NOVA an equity stake in PFB as well as two seats on PFB’s board. PFB’s Plasti-Fab subsidiary currently sells Expanded Polystyrene products (EPS) such as Insulated Concrete Forms and Structural Insulated Panels into the North American green building market, and as a result is a customer for the Performance Styrenics division’s EPS resins.  Over the last few years,...

Ameresco (AMRC) Misses by 7 cents: Look to Buy on Any Sell-off

Tom Konrad CFA Ameresco, Inc. (NYSE:AMRC) reported first quarter (Q1) earnings this morning, missing analysts’ earnings expectations by two-thirds.  While Q1 earnings were only 3 cents compared to the 10 cents expected by analysts, the company slightly beat revenue expectations by $600,000 for overall Q1 revenues of $146.6 million. While the headline was disappointing, President and CEO George Sakellaris confidently reaffirmed revenue guidence for the rest of the year, saying that he expected 2012 revenues to be heavily back loaded.  Sakellaris predicts the second half to account for 60-62% of 2012 revenues, compared to 38%- 40% for...

Lime Energy Strategy Validated by Award from Central Hudson

Tom Konrad CFA Lime Energy (NASD:LIME) has been a star in the very competitive energy services space recently because of its ability to maintain margins in what has been a very competitive environment.  While competing small efficiency companies have been closing up shop in the Northeast, Lime has been growing revenues at 30% a year, while maintaining a gross margin of around 20%. Recently, Lime sold off due to an earnings miss arising from a big write-off and less than expected revenues in the company’s Commercial and Industrial (C&I) division.  This was the buying opportunity I was waiting for...

The Spray Foam Industry: Moving to Soy?

by Scott Schnelle As an energy consultant for home retrofits, I often have customers and acquaintances ask my opinion regarding green technologies and energy efficient products. Undoubtedly, with the recent surge of the green movement and a shift toward becoming more environmentally sustainable, now is a great time to invest in these types of products. One product that has been getting more and more attention lately is spray foam. The product itself has been around for many years, but it has recently risen in popularity for a couple of reasons. Here, I’ll discuss spray foam briefly...

Dark Clouds Threaten German Clean Energy Ambitions

John Petersen During the fourteen years that I've lived in Switzerland, the Germans have been the world's staunchest supporters of green power and alternative energy. Their aggressive development of wind power was breathtaking, as was their warm embrace of photovoltaic power. Over the last few weeks, however, there has been an ominous change in the mainstream German media's tone as the political class finally comes to grips with the unpleasant reality that rooftop solar panels are worthless on short, grey winter days and "For weeks now, the 1.1 million solar power systems in Germany have generated almost no...

Will LED Stocks Follow Solar Stocks Over the Commoditization Cliff?

Tom Konrad CFA One irony of green investing is that doing good (for the planet) does not always do well for investors.  Recently the rewards for do-gooders have been abysmal.  For years, I've been warning that the rapid price reductions we need to make solar mainstream are unlikely to be good for the profits of solar companies.  This year a combination of subsidy cuts in Europe and photovoltaic (PV) module oversupply brought those price reductions home to roost.  Recently, PV ...

Stock Picks with a Whole Systems Approach

Tom Konrad CFA Picking the best energy services stocks. Fossil fuels are getting more expensive, but so are the industrial metals and other commodities used in the wind and solar farms with which we hope to replace them.   Meanwhile, government and personal budgets everywhere are under strain.  These economic imperatives make energy efficiency the one clean energy sector that may benefit despite rising denial about the existence of climate change among the US political elite and continued economic weakness. Energy efficiency represents the sort of true win-win-win in that it saves money, reduces the use...

Lime Energy: Delivering Energy Efficiency

Tom Konrad CFA The high upfront cost of efficient buildings (and efficiency in general) is more than offset by the significant long term rewards, as you can see from the McKinsey chart below. Despite the long term benefits, the upfront cost is often a barrier, especially to government entities in today's tight budgetary environment. Performance contracting offers them a way to square the circle between the long term budget benefits of efficient buildings and the often significant capital cost. This works by funding the capital improvement with debt secured by future energy savings. An...

Two High Yield Energy Efficiency Stocks with a Free Call Option on Housing

Tom Konrad CFA It's no secret that the housing market is in the doldrums.  New housing starts in August fell to an annual rate of 571,000, and fewer homes were under construction since record keeping began in 1970.  This has taken a toll on energy efficiency stocks in the housing sector, leading to some very attractive pricing in two of my favorites. Waterfurnace Renewable Energy (WFI.TO / WFIFF.PK) I've long been fan of Waterfurnace, an Indiana-based manufacturer of ground source and water-source heat pumps.  A note from a reader Wednesday prompted me to poll...