Vehicle Electrification – a Bird in the Hand

John Petersen Since I'm frequently chastised for holding old fashioned views when it comes to vehicle electrification, I'll start this article by quoting one of the oldest known versions of a common English proverb, "A byrd in hand - is worth ten flye at large." While this theme is not always clear in my writing, it's never far from my thoughts. In fact it's the foundation of my conviction that manufacturers of cheap energy storage products are better investments than developers of cool energy storage products and batteries are great at minimizing waste but miserable at replacing fuel...

2005 U.S. Energy Department Budget Provides for $2 Million for Continuation of Development of...

Electro Energy Inc (EEEI) announced that the Fiscal Year 2005 budget for the U.S. Department of Energy, signed earlier this month by President George Bush, provides $2 million for the continued development of bipolar nickel- metal hydride batteries for energy storage applications. "The funding provided by the U.S. Congress in the 2005 DOE budget will allow us to continue the development of batteries for utility energy storage applications, including power regulation, and bulk energy storage..." stated Martin Klein, Electro Energy's CEO. "This source of funds is a significant complement to the funds we have raised in our recent...

The Rocky Road to Lithium Ion Battery Commercialization

by Debra Fiakas CFA A bit of history… Schematic of a Lithium Ion Battery by Materialsgrp, via Wikimedia Commons Lithium ion batteries are a relatively recent innovation.  Scientists and engineers first began working with lithium applications in the 1970s.  A number of companies and laboratories worked through the next decade to perfect lithium ion batteries, using various materials for the business ends of a battery  -  the anode and the cathode.  It was not until the mid 1980s that developers settled on cobalt as...

Congratulating Axion and Exide

Yesterday Axion Power International (AXWP.OB) announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Exide Technologies (XIDE) following fourteen months of negotiation and technical investigation. This alliance could prove to be a sea-change event for the domestic battery industry. Copies of the press release and an archived version of the subsequent investor conference call are available on Axion's website. As a former chairman of Axion's board of directors and a very substantial Axion stockholder, I've been waiting for an agreement like this for a very long time. I'm delighted to see confirmation from Exide that my faith in...

Pure Play Energy Storage Stocks Year-End Review And Outlook

John Petersen With only a couple trading days left in 2009, this is as good a time as any for a performance review. The predictions I made at this time last year were pretty solid with an 80% accuracy rate on price direction. For the year, a $1,000 investment in each of my green star companies would have yielded a portfolio appreciation of 67%, which handily beat the broader market indices. That being said, my star and caution ratings were a good deal less prescient because I seriously underestimated the potential of both Maxwell Technologies (MXWL) and Active...

Ten Alternative Energy Speculations for 2008: Batteries, CHP, and Transmission

This article is a continuation of my Ten Alternative Energy Speculations for 2008, with picks #8, 9, and10 published last Thursday.  If you haven't already, please read the introduction of that article before buying any of the stock picks that follow.  These companies are likely to be highly volatile, and large positions are not appropriate for many investors.   My least risky picks (#8,9, and #10) are part of that same article; my most speculative plays (#1-3) will are here. #7 Electro Energy, Inc. (NasdaqCM:EEEI) $0.68 Electro Energy has risen 36% in the month and a half since I last...

Grid-scale Energy Storage: Lux Predicts $113.5 Billion in Global Demand by 2017

John Petersen Last month Lux Research released a bottom-up evaluation of the cost effectiveness of eight energy storage technologies in six grid-scale applications throughout 44 countries, including all 50 U.S. states. Their report titled "Grid Storage under the Microscope: Using Local Knowledge to Forecast Global Demand" predicts that annual global demand for grid-scale energy storage will reach an astounding 185.4 gigawatt-hours (GWh) by 2017 and represent a $113.5 billion incremental revenue opportunity for an industry that currently generates sales of $50 to $60 billion a year. In the grid-scale sector alone, Lux predicts an average...

Shares in Altair Nanotechnologies Purchased

I purchased shares in Altair Nanomaterials (ALTI) this morning for both my personal portfolio and also the mutual fund. ALTI is a holding company that specializes in nanomaterials and also contains a life sciences division. The materials company has research in high performance batteries, fuel cells, and photovoltaics. Altair announced earnings today and the stock is up on the morning trading. Revenue Increases 68 Percent for Third Quarter and 230 Percent for Nine-Month Period "An increase in revenue of 230 percent for the first three quarters of 2005 is representative of the significant progress Altair has...

OMG! A Cheap Specialty Chemical Company

by Debra Fiakas CFA Most investors probably pass over specialty chemical producer OM Group, Inc. (OMG:  NYSE).  It has a recent history of losses and by the usual multiples of sales and earnings its stock appears pricey.  I have taken a second look.  The modernization of the chemicals industry is a key step in attaining a sustainable and environmentally benign economy. OM Group has undertaken an ambitious reorganization.  Besides specialty chemicals, the company produces advanced materials and technologies for a variety of industries.  OM Group has held leading positions in cobalt-based and nickel-based chemicals.  Its advanced materials...

ELBC 2010 – Automakers Discuss Their Battery Requirements For Stop-Start Systems

John Petersen Last week I spent three days at the 11th European Lead Battery Conference in Istanbul where I learned that I've been far too conservative in earlier articles that discuss the likely impact of stop-start idle elimination systems on the battery sector. To put things in perspective, the 10th ELBC in 2008 had 500 participants and two papers on stop-start systems. The 11th ELBC in Istanbul had 700 participants and 15 papers on stop-start, including three from major automakers. The stop-start papers took a full day of the 2-1/2 day conference program. The high-level overview...

Altair Nanotechnologies Lithium Ion Battery Cells Exceed HEV Power Requirements of U.S. FreedomCAR

Altair Nanomaterials (ALTI) announced that its battery research and development team successfully completed a testing program for lithium ion battery cells containing Altairnano's nano-structured lithium titanate electrode materials. "The test results demonstrated that the performance of these lithium ion battery cells exceed the system-level power requirements set forth by the U.S. Council for Automotive Research FreedomCAR Energy Storage System Performance Goals for hybrid electric vehicle (HEVs), as well as those requirements published by major U.S. automakers," said Evan House, Ph.D., Program Director, Altairnano's Advanced Materials & Power Systems business unit. These batteries demonstrate a useable state-of-charge...

A123 Systems vs. BYD and Other Irrational Battery Investments

John Petersen Mother always taught me that if you can't say something nice, it's usually better to say nothing. While regular readers might question my ability to follow Mom's advice, this is an article I had really hoped somebody else would write. The quick summary is that while the shares of A123 Systems (AONE) may be a reasonable investment at current prices, the shares of BYD Co. Ltd. (BYDDF.PK) are an irrational value proposition, the shares of Ener1 (HEV) are even worse, and the shares of Valence Technologies (VLNC) are beyond understanding. Since many readers find detailed tables...

DOE Reports That Lithium-ion Batteries Are Still Not Ready For Prime Time

John Petersen Last month the DOE released the 2009 Annual Progress Report for its Energy Storage Research and Development Vehicle Technologies Program. Like the 2008 Annual Progress Report I discussed in a February 2009 article titled DOE Reports That Lithium-ion Batteries Are Not Ready For Prime Time, this new report is a relatively upbeat assessment of lithium-ion battery research and development that once again provides a stark reality check for investors in energy storage stocks. In Section III of the Report, which focuses primarily on meat and potatoes issues like R&D objectives, technical barriers, technical targets and recent...

EnerSys Invests in Lithium-Ion Battery Business

EnerSys (ENS) announced today that it has purchased a controlling interest in Modular Energy Devices, Inc. (ModEnergy), a development stage company. ModEnergy produces large format lithium-ion rechargeable batteries utilized in aerospace and defense applications as well as specialized standby power and commercial applications. ModEnergy, based in Westerly, Rhode Island, has developed a proprietary method for assembling lithium-ion cells into battery systems that are designed to be safer and more cost effective than competitive products currently available.

Is Lithium-ion A Dead-End Electric Drive Technology?

John Petersen Last week Energy Secretary Steven Chu addressed the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun. After watching the video presentation several times I can't help but wonder whether the Secretary didn't politely caution his audience that lithium-ion batteries are a dead-end electric drive technology. I could be misinterpreting Secretary Chu's remarks, but if you own stock in a lithium-ion battery developer like A123 Systems (AONE), Ener1 (HEV), Valence Technologies (VLNC) or Altair Nanotechnologies (ALTID), or are considering any of these companies for your portfolio, the discussion that starts 25 minutes into the following video could be...

Why I’m Buying C&D Technologies

John Petersen Baron Rothschild, an 18th century British nobleman, is credited with saying, "Buy when there's blood in the streets, even if the blood is your own." Later this week I expect a blood in the streets buying opportunity in the stock of C&D Technologies (CHP) and intend to take advantage of it. It's unquestionably a contrarian investment, but one that could pay off handsomely. I want to thank Ben S, a regular reader, for bringing this opportunity to my attention in an e-mail last weekend. Most investors know that the addition of a company's stock...