A Better Battery Or Bust

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last month BioSolar (BSRC:  OTC/PK) reported positive test results for its proprietary energy storage technology.  The company is developing an alternative anode material for lithium ion batteries using silicon-carbon materials.  BioSolar’s engineers are targeting dramatic improvement in anode performance and equally impressive reductions in cost.  If they are successful, it could mean longer lithium ion battery life, greater capacity and shorter charging time  -  the dreams of every manufacturer with an electronic product. Most lithium ion batteries rely on graphite for the battery anode.  However, silicon anodes could offer as much as ten...

Understanding the Development Path for Li-ion Battery Technologies

Last Tuesday a reader who works as a consultant in the energy storage and hybrid electric vehicles industries and sent me an unpublished "pre-decisional draft" of a DOE report titled National Battery Collaborative (NBC) Roadmap, December 9, 2009, a high-level policy analysis that discusses the merits, risks and expected costs of an aggressive eight-year initiative to foster the development and facilitate the commercialization of Li-ion batteries. The draft roadmap was written during the last days of the Bush administration, has since been partially implemented in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 and has never been officially released...

The Coming Bull Market In Lead-Acid Batteries, Part II

John Petersen On June 8th Switzerland's ABB Group Ltd. (ABB) announced an agreement to buy UK-based Chloride Group PLC (CHLD.L) for £860 million in cash, or approximately $1.26 billion. This stunning purchase provides the best evidence yet that lead-acid battery manufacturers including Enersys (ENS), Exide Technologies (XIDE) and C&D Technologies (CHP) are woefully undervalued and offer outstanding opportunity for patient and risk tolerant investors. ABB is the gold standard in the secure and efficient generation, transmission, distribution and use of electricity in utility, industrial and commercial applications. Its portfolio ranges from light switches to robots, and from...

Active Power Receives Order from Leading Solar Energy Company

Active Power Inc (ACPW) announced that it has received an order for its new CoolAir DC product from one of the leading producers of photovoltaic modules in Europe. CoolAir DC uses thermal energy and compressed air to provide power, can be cycled regularly without a loss in performance and is environmentally friendly. By using solar energy to heat the thermal storage unit (TSU) and compress air in the storage tanks, energy can be captured and used at a later time. The share price of ACPW has recently retested the trendline and I will be adding to...

Why Petersen is Such a Buzzkill

John Petersen In one of my first articles, "Battery Technology: A Different Set of Rules," a commenter suggested that I was a bit of a Captain Buzzkill. Eighteen months later it's clear that a lot of readers share that uncharitable view. This morning I had an e-mail exchange with a reader that raised the same basic issues and reminded me that it's been a while since I've discussed the fundamental differences between energy storage and other technology related sectors. Since the subject matter can be very important to investors who want to make sound decisions, I've decided to...

No Battery Producer Left Behind

by Debra Fiakas CFA In late 2009, nine companies in the battery sector were recipients of American Reconstruction and Recovery Act (ARRA) funds awarded by the Department of Energy to jump start manufacturing capacity.  By the end of December 2011, six of them had made enough progress to begin production.  Three were lagging behind, including Exide Technologies (XIDE:  Nasdaq) and its partner Axion Power International (AXPW:  OTC/BB).   Exide's Sundancer Electric Car, October 1973. Exide and Axion are not looking so quick today.  Photo by Frank Lodge, EPA. Public Domain ...

Arotech’s Battery and Power Systems Division Receives Follow-on Micro Air Vehicle – MAV –...

Arotech Corporation (ARTX) announced that its Electric Fuel subsidiary has received a follow-on contract from an Israeli security agency for its new generation zinc-air batteries. Under the terms of the contract, Arotech's Electric Fuel subsidiary will continue to develop prototype zinc-air cells to achieve extended flight times for Micro Aerial Vehicles (MAVs). Electric Fuel's cutting-edge zinc-air cells for MAVs are high-power, lightweight versions of its most advanced zinc-air cells. The Company has already demonstrated that its zinc air batteries extend the mission duration of these reconnaissance aircraft.

Altair Nano: Advanced Battery Sellout

by Debra Fiakas CFA Advanced battery developers have not had an easy time of it in recent years, or at any time for that matter.  There have been three bankruptcy declarations this year alone.  Ener1 and A123 Systems (AONE:  OTC/PK) were rescued by deep-pocketed buyers, who scooped up technology, contracts and relationships.  In this second post in the series we look at another advanced battery sellout. Altair Nanotechnologies (ALTI:  Nasdaq) has managed to avoid court rooms.  However, it did have to put itself up on the block, selling a majority of its...

Battery Investing for Beginners, Part II

John PetersenLast Friday I published "Battery Investing for Beginners" as an introductory piece for investors who don't know much about the energy storage sector but are interested in learning more because of the hugely successful initial public offering by A123 Systems (AONE). Since the article was well received and there seems to be a good deal of reader interest, I've decided to continue the theme with a series of articles where I'll try to build a contextual framework for the industry and show where various types of energy storage devices and their manufacturers fit into that framework. Since I...

Money Is Flowing Into Alt Energy Again, But We Are Not Out Of The...

Charles MorandIt seems as though the darkest clouds are finally dissipating over alt energy's financing horizon. Over the past few weeks, money has started flowing into the sector again, as evidenced by a number of recent deal announcements: On June 9, I reported on the upcoming IPO for Magma Energy Corp., a geothermal exploration company. The IPO's size will be upped from an initial C$50 MM to C$100 MM, a sign of increased market appetite  SunPower Corp. raised $418 MM in early May through a share and debt offering, and recently announced it had reached a $100...

It’s Time to Kill the Electric Car, Drive a Stake Through its Heart and...

John Petersen I was recently invited to prepare a memorandum on the battery industry for the electric mobility working group of the World Energy Council, a global thought leadership forum established in 1923 that includes 93 national committees representing over 3,000 member organizations including governments, businesses and research institutions. Since my memorandum integrated several themes from this blog and tied them all together, I've decided to publish a lightly edited version for readers. To set the stage for the substantive discussion that follows, I’ll start with an 1883 quote from Thomas Edison: “The storage battery is one...

Millennium Cell Awarded U.S. Army Hydrogen Battery Contract

Millennium Cell Inc (MCEL) announced that it has been awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research Program contract by the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command. The Company will assess the feasibility of operating its hydrogen battery technology in conjunction with a 5kW PEM-based fuel cell using water containing a variety of impurities. Preliminary tests conducted by Millennium Cell suggest salt water and other non-potable water may be adequate for use with the Company's Hydrogen on Demand® technology.

Cleantech, Optimism Squared and the Family Reunion Investment Test

Last November, Merrill Lynch released "The Sixth Revolution: The Coming of Cleantech," a thematic report from strategist Steven Milunovich that heralded cleantech as a new investment theme and forecast a coming age of plenty. A few days later venture capital icon Vinod Khosla warned a Palo Alto audience “500 million people on earth enjoy a lifestyle that 9 billion people will want in 2050.” The differences between these two informed viewpoints are more than a little stark, but they highlight a frightening truth about cleantech: for the first time in human history the fundamental drivers of a technological revolution...

Valuation Primer For Energy Storage Companies – Lesson #1

John Petersen I frequently observe that market valuations in the energy storage sector have been wildly distorted by electric vehicle hype that has nothing to do with business fundamentals. Last February I wrote an article that compared Exide Technologies with Ener1, but obviously didn't quite get to the meat of the matter. Since both companies reported earnings on November 4th, this seems like an opportune time to be more direct in the comparison and present a brief primer on valuations in the energy storage sector. Since a lot of investors never get beyond stock price movements, the...

The EIA Offers Another Reality Check For Energy Storage Investors

John Petersen On December 14th the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a policy-neutral statistics and analysis agency within the Department of Energy, announced the release of reference case statistics for its Annual Energy Outlook 2010, an exhaustive compendium of current data and expected trends that covers the entire spectrum of energy production, consumption and pricing at the regional and national level. For numbers freaks like me, the EIA worksheets are a bottomless well of fascinating minutiae. Since most investors would find the raw data mind numbing, I spent some time pouring through the EIA's data in an effort to wrap...

Exide: Bargain Basement Battery Stock Ready to Start

Tom Konrad CFA Exide's Sundancer Electric Car.  Photo by Frank Lodge, EPA.  Public Domain NOTE: Since this article was first published, Exide Technologies (NASD:XIDE) stock has risen 22% from $2.31 to $2.82, but much of that rise was due to media confusion about a positive Credit Suisse research report on the unrelated Indian company Exide Industries, Ltd.  Details here. Exide Technologies (NASD:XIDE) is shutting down its battery recycling plant in Frisco, Texas, and selling the surrounding 180...