BCON up over 147% today

Beacon Power Corp (BCON) was up over 147% at the close today. This move was primarily based on two project wins. One with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the other with the California Energy Commission. The projects would have Beacon Power provide grid frequency regulation and reactive power by utilizing its flywheel energy storage system. The final terms and conditions of the projects have not been disclosed.

Metal-Air Battery Stocks

by Debra Fiakas CFA Earlier this year, we added metal air batteries and the companies who are working to commercialize the technology on our list of promising acts to follow.  The Israeli battery developer, Phinergy, was added to our Mothers of Invention Index.  Back when I wrote the post “More in the Air than Spring” back in April 2013, Phinergy had attracted a bit of attention for a road test of Citroen C1 car outfitted with a technology far different than conventional lithium ion.  No one knows Phinergy.  It is too small and too foreign to impress...

A Tale of Two Battery Companies

John Petersen The last few weeks have offered a fascinating object lesson for believers in Benjamin Graham's theory that "In the short run the market acts like a voting machine, but in the long run it acts like a weighing machine." Since January 4th I've watched in awe as Exide Technologies (XIDE) lost roughly 30% of its market value and Ener1 (HEV) lost closer to 40%. The difference is that Exide took a voting machine beat down because it lost a well-known but financially immaterial customer while Ener1 seems to be caught in the early stages of a...

Fool.com comments on ENER

The Motley Fool finally had something good to say about an alternative energy stock. It just so happens to be for one I purchased earlier this morning. Don't look now, but Energy Conversion Devices might just prove to be that rare bird an alternative energy play with actual products and a reasonable chance of living up to lofty investor expectations. ... It would appear to me that hybrid vehicle batteries are the biggest near-term opportunity. Although the company didn't specify the customers, it has acknowledged receiving production orders for battery packs. They say that...

Why Advanced Lithium Ion Batteries Won’t Be Recycled

John Petersen One of the most pervasive and enduring myths in the energy storage sector is that a robust recycling infrastructure for used lithium-ion batteries will be built before the wonder-batteries that are being manufactured today for the first generation of plug-in vehicles reach the end of their useful lives. In the worst case scenario, advocates suggest used lithium-ion batteries will be stockpiled until there are enough used batteries to justify the build-out of recycling infrastructure. The numbers tell a very different story. For several years the single minded obsession of all lithium-ion battery developers...

Why I Don’t Expect A Lithium-Ion Battery Glut

John Petersen It's no secret that I think plug-in electric vehicles are unconscionable waste and pollution masquerading as conservation. To support my opinions, I've published an easy to follow Excel spreadsheet that shows why plug-ins are 5x to 6x less effective than HEVs when it comes to reducing national gasoline consumption and 9x to 12x less effective than HEVs when it comes to reducing national CO2 emissions. To date, the only challenges to my analysis have come from die-hard EV fanatics who seem to believe battery factories grow on trees and raw material supply chains sprout like flowers...

The Cruel Realities of EV Range

John Petersen An English proverb teaches us to hope for the best but plan for the worst. With the imminent introduction of a variety of plug-in vehicles that will begin hitting showroom floors in the next few months, the phobia du jour is range anxiety, an entirely rational terror that an EV will get you to your destination in eco-chic style but only get you home with the help of a tow-truck. Sadly, most people who extol the virtues of electric drive are incurable optimists that have little or no regard for the risks inherent in complex systems...

How Aggregation Will Destroy Niche Markets for Smart Grid Energy Storage

John Petersen Last week I introduced a new study titled "Energy Storage for the Electricity Grid: Benefits and Potential Market Assessment" that was commissioned by the DOE's Energy Storage Systems Program, identified seventeen discrete storage applications for the electricity grid, discussed the technical requirements of each application and summarized the potential economic benefits. If the Yahoo! message boards are any indication, investors are already jumping to inaccurate and wildly optimistic conclusions because they don't understand that many storage applications are synergistic and every storage system purchaser will try to maximize the value of its investment by capturing...

ChangeWave Research Fuel Cells, Hydrogen, and Battery Technology Trends

The ChangeWave Alliance has produced a detailed look at the key trends for fuel cells and future battery technology. I have been given permission to post the abstract of this 13 page report. Overview: This report focuses on key trends in fuel cells and hydrogen, along with battery technologies. The findings are from the Alliance's most recent alternative energy survey, completed February 10, 2006. A total of 121 members working in the alternative energy industry participated, including 25 working in companies involved with Fuel Cells. Bottom Line: Respondents working in alternative energy believe that over the next...

California Legislature to Consider Storage Portfolio Standards

John Petersen The California Energy Storage Alliance just issued a press release that describes new legislation to require utilities to incorporate energy storage in their distribution networks. The rules will mandate storage equal to 2.25% of daytime peak power by 2014 and 5% of daytime peak power by 2020. The press release is available here. A quick check of the California ISO website forecasts a peak load of approximately 29,000 MW for tomorrow. If one assumes an average peak demand of 30,000 MW, a 2.25% storage penetration would require an annual storage build of 135 MW per...

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...

Will Surging Smart Grid Investments Result in Surging Electric Prices?

John Petersen The electric power system in the U.S. is dirty, antiquated, stupid, unstable, and a security nightmare. After years of discussion and debate, consensus now holds that the generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure will need hundreds of billions in new investment to reduce emissions, improve reliability, minimize waste and inefficiency, improve security, and facilitate the integration of wind, solar and other emerging alternative energy technologies. Commonly cited capital spending estimates range from $200 billion globally by 2015 to $2 trillion overall. In his November 2008 report, "The Sixth Industrial Revolution: The Coming of Cleantech," Merrill Lynch strategist...

Electric Vehicle and Lithium-ion Battery Investing For Imbeciles

John Petersen In their 1969 bestseller "The Peter Principle" Laurence Peter and Raymond Hull quoted a Latin-American student named Caesare Innocente who lamented, "Professor Peter, I'm afraid that what I want to know is not answered by all my studying. I don't know whether the world is run by smart men who are, how you Americans say, putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." After watching the events of the last few weeks, I think most of my regular readers would agree that the imbeciles are clearly steering the ship. Last March I went...

Plug-in Vehicle Subsidies; Taxing Peter To Buy Paul’s New Car

John Petersen Industrial subsidies have been an important feature of the American economic landscape since the late 19th century for one simple reason – they work. After the steam locomotive proved its ability to quickly and cheaply move people and cargo long distances, the government launched a massive effort to span the country with steel rails and bring the benefits of a rapid, safe and reliable national transportation system to all its citizens. After electric lighting proved its merit, the rush was on to build a national infrastructure and bring the benefits to all. After the internal combustion...

Grid-Based Energy Storage; A $200 Billion Opportunity

John Petersen Yesterday a reader sent me a copy of an exhaustive new study titled "Energy Storage for the Electricity Grid: Benefits and Market Potential Assessment Guide" that was commissioned by the DOE's Energy Storage Systems Program and prepared by Jim Eyer and Garth Corey. I've been following the work in progress on this report since last summer and have eagerly awaited an opportunity to shift away from the overhyped electric vehicle market and focus instead on a far larger market where cost, performance and substantive business merit will be the only drivers. It looks like my time...

Plug-in Vehicle Hucksters are Doing P.T. Barnum Proud

David Hannum was right! There's a sucker born every minute and they're all waiting with bated breath for the low-cost plug-in electric vehicles that are coming soon to a dealership near you; if they're not quietly cancelled first. It's the most insidiously appealing idea of our age: replace those nasty gasoline burning engines with cheap batteries that recharge in minutes and save a fortune on fuel while you "See the USA in Your Chevrolet." It's so appealing in fact that it ranks right up there with free lunch. P.T. Barnum would have been proud. ...