Mirai

Beyond ZEVs: The Negative Emission Vehicle

by Jim Lane Wandering the halls at the BIO World Congress and later to be seen again at ABLC NEXT this November, we ran across one of the most interesting technologies relating to ethanol production and markets we have seen in a month of Sundays, perhaps two months’ worth. The problem First, let’s revisit the problem. There’s simply too much ethanol being produced for the markets to absorb, given the Trump Administration’s massive cutbacks in US ethanol targets —In the resulting massively oversupplied market, the inevitable has happened, ethanol producers, growers and the Midwestern economies are being crushed. And they thought they...

Hydrogen in Oil’s Back Yard

by Debra Fiakas, CFA As well derricks cast oily shadows across the landscape, Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. (APD:   NYSE) has installed Saudi Arabia’s first hydrogen fueling station.The set up is tucked safely into APD’s new technology center in a science park, but the significance of this incursion into oil and gas country can be felt across the region.The fueling station, which incorporates APD’s SmartFuelhydrogen fueling technology, will service six Toyota Mirai fuel cell electric vehicles. Undertaken in cooperation with Saudi Aramco, the project is intended to demonstrate the potential for hydrogen as transportation fuel. Hydrogen has potential advantages over conventional fuels, including Saudi Arabia’s oil and...
SS Battery Diagram

In Search Of Solid State Battery Stocks

by Debra Fiakas, CFA Greater energy density or the amount of energy stored is the mission of every battery developer.  The higher the energy density, the longer a battery can serve its owner.  Scientists have been adjusting circulating chemistry, cloaking electrodes in exotic metals, and otherwise tinkering with conventional battery designs.  Debate even spills over into the raw material supply chain as it has recently over the use of expensive and sometimes difficult to source cobalt as an additive to lithium ion battery designs.   Others are trying to tame silicon for use in battery anodes. Perhaps the most daring developers have abandoned conventional battery design...
NaS Catalina

Lesser Known Battery Chemistries

by Debra Fiakas, CFA The last post Vanadium Flow Battery Companies, featured several companies bringing vanadium redox flow batteries to the market for large-scale energy storage projects.  These highly efficient and long-lived batteries take advantage of the unique properties of vanadium.  There are other interesting chemical mixes on the battery market that could yield returns for investors. Sodium-sulfur There are at least eight different installations of sodium-sulfur or NaS batteries around the world.  One of the largest is the Yerba Buena Energy Storage System owned by Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PCG:  NYSE) in California.  Rated at 4 megawatts or 24 megawatt hours, the system can provide backup electricity...
redox flow

Vanadium Flow Battery Companies

The recent post “Lithium Technology Dominates Large Energy Storage Projects” featured companies offering utility-scale lithium battery systems. Industry research firm Navigant estimates that lithium-ion technology accounts for almost 30% of non-pumped storage capacity developed since 2011.  This might be due in part to the dramatic decreases in cost for lithium ion batteries.  A study completed by Bloomberg New Energy Finance found that the ‘levelized’ cost of energy for lithium ion batteries has fallen by 76% to $187 per megawatt hour in the first quarter 2019 from $800/MWh in 2012. Is the story over for utility-scale storage?  Should investors look for lithium ion battery manufacturers and forget...
Hornsdale tesla powerpack

Lithium Technology Dominates Large Energy Storage Projects

by Debra Fiakas, CFA Market share for lithium technology has been extended by another 22 megawatts with the selection of lithium-based batteries by Duke Energy (DUK:  NYSE) for three separate of power facilities operated by Duke Energy Florida.  Duke did not specify the source of the lithium-based batteries, but the company seems to have an affinity for Tesla’s (TSLA:  Nasdaq) battery products.  Last year Duke Energy with its partner University of South Florida chose Tesla’s lithium-based batteries for a 100-kilowatt solar project in St. Petersburg, Florida. Application of lithium-based technology in a relatively small, microgrid application like that in St. Petersburg is no surprise.  Lithium-based batteries offer high energy...
Epanko

Canadian and Tanzanian Graphite Connections

A list of graphite companies covered in this series can be found here. Like performance test results, customer relationships are critical stepping stones for graphite developers.  In June 2018, Northern Graphite (NGC: TSX-V) announced a memorandum of understanding with a European trading company to sell 100% of the output from Northern’s Bisset Creek resources in Ontario, Canada.  China-based manufacturers are the intended end-users.  Northern management is using the arrangement as leverage with prospective investors to finance mine infrastructure and processing equipment.  Capital costs are expected to exceed CA$145 million. Northern claims a proprietary purification technology the company intends to use to upgrade its graphite output.    Its Bissett Creek deposit...

Yankee Graphite

Several graphite developers have made plans to integrate forward into the hottest segment of the market  -  battery-grade graphite.  According to Industrial Minerals, spherical graphite suitable for lithium ion battery anodes is priced in a range of $2,700 to $2,800 per metric ton in China where many battery manufacturers are located.  This compares quite well to the range of about $655 to $790 per metric ton for flake graphite concentrate. The integration strategy has sent the sector into a frenzy of activity to prove their graphite meets expectations of battery manufacturers.  The only graphite deposit in the U.S. mainland is under development by Westwater Resources...
Lithium Ion Battery Diagram

Graphite Developers Eye Large Growing Market

The post “Integrated Graphene Producers” featured several graphene producers with novel business models that marry captive graphite sources to the technology and knowhow to produce graphene.  These are not the only graphite producers.  Although not as elegant as graphene with its svelte single-atom profile, the market for graphite has its appeal as well. Graphite has been a staple in steel industry crucibles, foundry molds and automobile brake linings.  These days graphite has moved into another even more important place in cars  -  lithium ion batteries that make electric vehicles viable as replacements for gas guzzling cars and trucks. Spherical graphite is especially desirable because the graphite anodes hold...
UQM Fuel Cell comperssor

Shareholders Cry Foul as UQM Agrees to Buyout

UQM Technologies (UQM:  NYSE) has agreed to be acquired by Danfoss Power Solutions for $1.71 per share in cash, providing a deal value near $100 million.  UQM leadership expects timely review by government authorities and has recommended approval of the deal by shareholders.  A date has not been set for the required shareholder vote.  Assuming all goes according to schedule, a deal closing is possible sometime in the second quarter 2019. Electric propulsion and generation technologies are at the core of UQM’s solutions for manufacturing, transportation and power industries.  The substitution of electric motors for combustion engines has been driving demand for the UQM’s products.  Market opportunities have abounded...
solar storage and finance

Conference Brief – Solar & Storage Finance

Renewable energy finance has many different kinds of participants, as revealed recently at the Solar & Storage Finance conference hosted in NYC.  .   Listening to the live actors from the financial side of the renewable power industry moved the issues off the page, to a more concrete experience of their specific concerns, including the extent to which their distinct missions were siloed, how they are competitive, and how they synergize. The presentations were organized to highlight these differences.  Several panel discussions were set back-to-back the contrast between lenders vs tax equity investors, both in terms of their goals, but also...

Solar & Storage Finance Conference Notes

I attended the Solar & Storage Finance conference hosted in NYC in late October 2018.  Presenters included a mix of capital providers & asset managers, private non-profit entities & public agencies, legal, accounting & consulting firms, intermediaries, firms providing risk analysis, ratings & mitigation, & various vendors of energy storage and IT-related services.  The tone of the discussions was noteworthy for its near total absence of ideological comments about environmental urgency.   Rather, it was a meeting of finance technicians and technocrats focused on the nuts & bolts of accomplishing those ends, with the merits and relevance of mission assumed. The...
Nemaska's Whabouchi site

Nemaska: A Lithium Bargain

Nemaska Lithium (NMKEF:  OTC/PK, NMX:  TO) is a newcomer to the lithium industry.  The company recently came to the market with battery-grade lithium from spodumene rock carved out of its Whabouchi mine in northern Quebec, Canada and converted in a proprietary electrochemical process to battery-grade lithium material at an in-house facility in Shawinigan to the south.  The company filled its first orders in Summer 2018. The company expected to produce over 200,000 metric tons of lithium-bearing spodumene concentrate from its Whabouchi mine with an average 6.25% lithium oxide content.  The mine is expected to remain productive for over three decades at that extraction rate.  The processing plant in...
Plan for Nemaska's electrochemical lithium mining project

Nemaska Sprints to Early Lead In Lithium Mining Race

Thank Elon Musk with his Tesla (TSLA) gigafactory for sparking a global obsession with lithium-ion batteries and the materials need to turn them out.  Claimed by Musk to be the largest building in the world, the factory was planned to reach capacity in stages.  By the time the factory is fully completed in 2020, production capacity is expected to be 150 gigawatt hours of battery packs. Ever since construction of Musk’s gigafactory began in 2014, investors around the world have been fretting over the adequacy of lithium supplies in particular.  The gigafactory concept appeared to trigger a whole slew of ‘me too’ factories...
Hydrogen

Hydrogenics: Will Hydrogen Skeptics Be Blown Away?

The hydrogen technology developer Hydrogenics Corporation (HYGS: Nasdaq) is taking on wind energy.  The company’s fuel cell power systems for stand-by and site power sources, hydrogen generators for industrial situations, and energy storage and fuel solutions for fleet owners. Hydrogen has gained in popularity because it is a zero-emission fuel source when burned with oxygen.  The energy efficiency of hydrogen as a transportation fuel is also enticing.  An electric motor powered by hydrogen fuel cell is two to three times more efficient than an internal combustion engine running on gasoline. Hydrogen is not without its critics.  One of the criticisms is that hydrogen is not entirely a carbon-neutral...
BMW i3 uses batteries with silicon in the anode

The Race For Silicon Anodes

Graphite is the most widely used material for battery anodes.  The anode is the positively charged electron collector in a battery.  It collects and accelerates the electronics emitted by the battery’s cathode.  Graphite gets the anode job because it is has excellent electric conductivity and resists heat and corrosion.  Plus it is light weight, soft and malleable. As satisfied as manufacturers might be with graphite anodes, none would balk at an alternative material that boosts battery performance or reduces cost.  Scientists believe battery capacity can be increased as much as ten times by using silicon for anodes.  It requires six atoms of carbon to bind one...