Smart DOE Battery Manufacturing Grants and Dilution For Dummies

John Petersen Last month I wrote about a very smart plan the DOE developed for $4.5 billion in smart grid grants authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ("ARRA"). I was particularly impressed that the DOE's plan created a functional public-private partnership where grants would be available to companies that could raise matching funds from private sources, but would be denied to companies that could not attract substantial private sector funding. While I hoped a similar plan would be adopted for $2 billion in ARRA battery manufacturing grants, my research was hindered by a broken link...

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...

Energy Storage: Q3 2012 Winners and Losers

John Petersen I usually write a quarterly recap to summarize what happened in the energy storage and vehicle electrification sectors, but Q2 was a tough enough period that I don't see much sense in dwelling on the bloodletting. So instead of focusing on the past, I'll offer a quick summary table with lots of red ink and turn my attention to Q3, which is shaping up as a time of bright opportunity for some companies and profound risk for others. I expect three companies in my tracking group to perform very well in Q3 –...

Alice in EVLand – Cracks in the Looking Glass

John Petersen In his 2006 State of the Union Address, President George W. Bush said: "Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology." What a crock of balderdash! If you compare US fuel prices with those in other industrialized countries, gasoline is a screaming bargain and the same can be said for electricity. It's not the energy we use that's a problem. The problem is the...

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...

Electro Energy and In-Q-Tel Announce Strategic Relationship and Development Agreement for Bipolar Lithium Battery...

Electro Energy Inc (EEEI) and In-Q-Tel, a private not-for-profit venture group funded by the Central Intelligence Agency, today announced the establishment of a strategic relationship, including a technology development agreement. In-Q-Tel's mission is to identify and invest in companies developing cutting-edge technologies that serve United States national security interests. This means that they like what they see with this next generation battery technology.

Understanding Manufacturing Economics for Grid-Scale Energy Storage

John Petersen I have a new favorite word AGGREGATION! At the risk of sounding like a reporter, I’m going to summarize a pre-holiday news story you might have missed but need to know about. In late November the PJM Interconnect, the largest of nine regional grid system operators in the US, announced that it had begun buying frequency regulation services from small-scale, behind the meter, demand response assets in Pennsylvania. The first resources brought on-line by PJM were variable speed pumps at a water treatment plant and a 500 kW industrial battery array...

Just One Sector – Fuel Efficiency Pure Plays

John Petersen In 1789 Benjamin Franklin wrote "in this world nothing is certain but death and taxes." Today he probably would have written "in this world nothing is certain but death, taxes and rising oil prices." There's no escaping the misery, but astute investors who take the time to understand the fundamental trends can profit as the misery unfolds. For the short term, I'm convinced the biggest opportunities will be in fuel efficiency technologies for cars and light trucks. After 20 years of complacent stagnation, the US started to get serious about light-duty vehicle fuel efficiency in...

LG Chem: Storage Battery Leader

by Debra Fiakas CFA The post “Energy Storage Restart,” which was published last week, discussed the efforts by General Electric (GE:  NYSE) to get back into the market for utility-scale energy storage.  After some difficulties that required the partial closing of its battery manufacturing plant, GE has got back in the game with new contracts wins.  In April 2015, the company won a contract to supply Con Edison Development with an 8-megawatt-hour battery storage system at a solar project in California.  GE will be integrating lithium-ion batteries rather than...

Energy Storage: Q4 2012 Winners and Losers

John Petersen In late June I wrote a forward looking article that identified several companies in my energy storage and vehicle electrification group that I expected to perform well or perform poorly during the third quarter. Since short-term market changes are notoriously hard to predict, it’s worthwhile to look back and see where I got things right and where I got them wrong. So I’ll start today with a quick summary table and assess the relative accuracy of my Q3 calls, and then turn my attention to Q4, which is shaping up as a time of bright opportunity...

Are Energy Storage Investors Chasing Their Tails?

John Petersen I didn't learn about normal bell shaped curves in kindergarten but I developed a pretty solid understanding of the concept by the second or third grade because at report-card time A's were worth a quarter, B's were worth a dime and C's had no value at all. By the time I reached college I was chasing the right hand tail of the bell curve on my own initiative. Law school and the competitive nature of my profession merely pushed my drive for the right hand tail up a notch. Old habits die hard, so I...

Axion Power and BMW Report Impressive Performance Test Results

John Petersen After seven years of cautious disclosures about the development status, performance and market potential of its serially patented PbC® battery technology, Axion Power International (AXPW.OB), in conjunction with BMW (BAMXY.PK), has finally released impressive performance test results that show why the PbC battery is a superior choice for automotive stop-start applications. Concurrently, Axion released a white paper that discusses stop-start battery requirements in detail and offers some hints about the PbC battery's potential for use in other emerging energy storage markets. The presentation and the white paper do not show small, incremental gains like you...

Stop-Start Idle Elimination – Slashing Fuel Consumption By Up To 17%

John Petersen I've written several articles over the last year that explain why idle elimination is a crucial first step in the global effort to increase fuel efficiency and curb CO2 emissions. For readers who are new to my blog, or confused by a torrent of news stories and analysts reports that wax poetic on the expected benefits, costs and challenges of gee-whiz vehicles that are "coming soon to a showroom near you," altenergymag.com describes stop-start systems, or micro-hybrids, as follows: "These are conventional vehicles powered either by gasoline or diesel engines in which the 12-volt starter...

Culling My Energy Storage Tracking Group

John Petersen In my second quarter update I deleted China Ritar Power (CRTP.PK) from my energy storage tracking list because of its decision to terminate its SEC registration during a period when China-based companies with US listings were bogged down in a dense fog of suspicion. Since then the carnage in the energy storage sector has been far worse than I expected and it's time to permanently remove the companies highlighted in pink from my energy storage and vehicle electrification tracking list for the reasons described below. Current Culls In March of this year...

Don’t Bet Against SolarCity

By Jeff Siegel DISCLOSURE: Long SCTY. It wasn't an April Fool's Day gag when I said it was time to buy SolarCity Corp. (NASDAQ: SCTY) at the beginning of the month. After a brief standstill, the company's battery-backed solar projects have begun to move forward again. The State of California Public Utilities Commission has added an important item to its May 15 agenda that will make a huge difference for SolarCity. Utility companies may finally be blocked from imposing big fees on battery-backed solar systems. For more than a year, California's largest utilities companies demanded...

Alternative Energy Technologies and the Origin of Specious

John Petersen Thanks to a recent comment from JLBR, I've found a new hero in Dr. Peter Z. Grossman, an economics professor from Butler University who cogently argues that government attempts to force alternative energy technologies into an R&D model that was created for the Manhattan Project and refined for the Space Program will always result in commercial disaster because "the goal of the Apollo Program was the demonstration of engineering prowess while any alternative energy technology must succeed in the marketplace." In a recent article titled "The Apollo Fallacy and its Effect on U.S. Energy Policy" Dr....