An Overlooked Christmas Gift For Energy Storage Investors

John Petersen Monday morning a reader sent me a link to a December 23rd press release announcing that the OM Group, Inc. (OMG) had agreed to buy EaglePicher Technologies LLC, a well regarded name in the battery industry, for $171.9 million, or roughly 1.4x sales. While I overlooked the release during the build-up to Christmas, the transaction is important because it provides a current bright-line reference point for energy storage investors on the difficult question, "what is a battery company worth?" EaglePicher was previously a unit of Eagle Picher Holdings, a public company that filed a...

Saviors and Saboteurs in Alternative Energy

John Petersen Last week Societe Generale published a thematic research report titled "A new world order, when demand overtakes supply" which examines the macro-economic and demographic trends that will transform the global economy over the next 20 years. It mirrored the theme of Jeremy Grantham's April 2011 quarterly letter titled "Time to Wake Up: Days of Abundant Resources and Falling Prices Are Over Forever" and did a great job of summarizing an issue I touched on in "How PHEVs and EVs Will Sabotage America's Drive For Energy Independence." In the words of Societe Generale: "So, while...

New Arotech Technology Allows Electric Bus to Run on Commercially Available Zinc

Arotech Corporation (ARTX) announced today that its Electric Vehicle unit has developed technology that will allow its zinc-air batteries to use commercially available zinc, eliminating the need for the special dendritic zinc used to date. Arotech's technological breakthrough for utilizing readily available zinc will boost commercialization plans for the zinc-air hybrid bus, which until now required heavy investments in zinc producing infrastructure.

Is Lithium-ion a Borgia Battery?

John Petersen I’ve recently learned that lithium-ion batteries might be a triple threat – Borgia batteries – cherished by eco-royalty, poisonous in the extreme, and explosive enough to wreak havoc in a $25 million laboratory that was built to safely manage battery explosions. Is it a battery or a WMD? On April 11th five employees of the advanced battery laboratory at the General Motors (GM) Technical Center in Warren, Michigan were hurt when extreme testing of a prototype lithium-ion battery pack from A123 Systems (AONE) released chemical gases that exploded inside a testing chamber. Four were...

When Will Polypore Payoff?

by Debra Fiakas CFA   Diagram of a battery with a polymer separator. Lithium ion batteries make it possible to recharge your smart phone, camera and a multitude of other have-to-have-with-us-every­-moment devices.  Yet the average person knows very little of the inner workings of something so important to our daily lives.  One little item in a battery is a highly specialized membrane that fits neatly between opposing electrodes  -  the positive and negative poles that make an electrical charge.  This membrane manages the charge and discharge process. ...

Ener1 And Delphi Sign LOI To Form Lithium Battery Joint Venture

ENER1 INC (ENEI) and Delphi Corp. (DPH), today entered into a non-binding letter of intent to create a joint venture to leverage their combined expertise in lithium batteries. Delphi and Ener1 will be negotiating definitive agreements and conducting due diligence in the coming weeks. "The combination of Ener1's vapor deposition process and its nanotechnology for production of high-rate, low-cost lithium batteries with Delphi-developed high energy capacity technology would allow the venture to have a key advantage in penetrating its target lithium battery markets," — Kevin Fitzgerald, Ener1's CEO. ENEI is up over 14% on this news...

What I Learned During Last Week’s Visit With ePower

John Petersen Last week I spent a couple days with ePower Engine Systems working my way through a variety of business and technical due diligence issues. As always happens with new clients, it was a full immersion course in how ePower’s technology works, what the documented performance of the current tractor is, and how that performance is expected to change as ePower: transitions from a four cylinder engine designed for stationary use to an EPA compliant six cylinder engine designed for the trucking industry; automates a new charge control system that will opportunistically charge the batteries in...

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...

Tesla Just Killed Your Power Company

By Jeff Siegel Last Thursday at around 11:00 p.m., the world changed. I don't mean to sound so dramatic, but there's no other way to put it. You see, that night, Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA)) CEO and super-genius Elon Musk unveiled something so monumentally game-changing, it's almost hard to put into words without sounding like a lunatic. But I'm going to try anyway... Out of the Starting Gate When I first started covering the renewable energy space in 2005, it was like pulling teeth to get investors to pay attention. After all, the renewable energy industry had a...

Axion Power: Is There Light At The End Of The PIPE?

Tom Konrad, CFA A light at the end of the PIPE? Photo by Tom Check In my last article, Axion Power’s Potential For Explosive Growth, I outlined a number of near-term business opportunities for Axion Power International, (OTC:AXPW) any one of which could catapult the company into profitability in 2014, and more than one of which could produce significant revenue growth this year.  While I’m quite bullish about Axion’s prospects, I concluded with a skeptical comment about Axion’s stock:  f I owned the stock today, I would be a seller at the current...

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...

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.

Why I’m Thrilled By Axion’s Financing Transaction

John Petersen This morning Axion Power International (AXPW.OB) announced the closing of a $26 million private placement of straight common stock that was sold to institutional and individual investors lead by Special Situation Funds, Manatuck Hill Partners and Narragansett Strategic Master Fund. While some current shareholders will no doubt complain that the private placement price of $0.57 per share represents a $1.01 discount from yesterday's close and seems pretty dilutive, I'm thrilled that my fondest wish has come true a couple days before Christmas. After several months of nagging doubt over whether Axion would be able to...

Electro Energy, Inc. Successfully Integrates Patented Bipolar Battery Technology and Lithium Ion Technology

Electro Energy Inc (EEEI) announced it has successfully integrated its patented bipolar battery design with lithium ion technology to achieve a multi-cell prototype battery with increased discharge efficiency, reduced weight and volume, more flexible design, and lower manufacturing costs. This achievement combines, for the first time, proven bipolar wafer cell design with gel polymer electrolyte-based lithium ion (Li-ion) technology. The bipolar Li-ion (BP Li-ion) cells have the same positive attributes as Electro Energy's bipolar nickel-metal hydride (BP Ni-MH) design, which typically provides up to 50% more power, 30% lower volume and 25% lower manufacturing costs than competing technologies....

Exide: Many Alliances, Fewer Results

Debra Fiakas Alliance photo via BigStock  Exide Technologies (XIDE:  Nasdaq) is one of the largest transportation and industrial battery suppliers in the U.S., vying for market share with Johnson Controls (JCI:  NYSE) and EnerSys (ENS:  NYSE) among others.  Batteries are a competitive business, even as the automotive sector has attempted a recovery from the 2008 free fall in new car sales.  Electric vehicle and renewable energy storage applications have helped expand addressable market.  However, for a conventional battery producer capturing a share of these...

Vanadium Flow Battery Stocks: Barely A Dribble

by Debra Fiakas CFA   The previous post “Investing With The Flow Battery” introduced a series of articles on flow batteries for grid-scale energy storage.  Investors focused on renewable investments should at least consider the implications of storage requirements in evaluating renewable energy technologies even if storage developers are not considered portfolio-worthy.  Owners of grid-connected solar and wind power systems must design a network that can meet the highest peak load of the year even if a large part of the generating capacity sits idle for extended periods.  Storage technologies convert electrical power into chemical or mechanical energy...