Batteries for HEVs, Batteries for EVs

I'm a longtime fan of electric vehicles (EVs) as well as Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs), in all their variations.  When it comes to investing, I think the best way to invest  in on the growth of electric transportation is batteries, partly because pure play battery companies exist (although my top battery pick, Electro Energy (EEEID) , has been one of my poorest performers, in a classic case of a cheaply priced company getting even cheaper. Given these interests, I was speaking to the President of Porous Power Technologies, a private battery components firm a couple weeks ago...

Dilution for Dummies – Why A123 Systems is Undervalued

John Petersen Bartenders are smarter than most investors because they know what dilution is and they never get it wrong. Unfortunately, the markets have made such a bogeyman out of the word 'dilution' that public companies often suffer extreme backlash from financing transactions that should have existing stockholders on their feet and dancing in the aisles. Today I'll try to clear up some of the profound confusion that runs rampant in the minds of retail investors. Every bartender knows you can't dilute a beer by adding a shot of whiskey. The boilermaker is always stronger....
BioSolar battery

What Do Investors Get With BioSolar?

by Debra Fiakas, CFA Last week management of energy storage developer BioSolar, Inc. (BSRC:  OTC/PK) provided an update on the company lithium-ion battery design.  The company’s engineers along with a manufacturing partner are still making changes to the design called the 21700 cell.  Additionally, the company recently decided to take greater control over raw materials supply, potentially sourcing and processing materials in the U.S.   Engineers at BioSolar have been trying to increase the storage capacity of lithium-ion batteries by improving the anode component.  The plan is to sell 'super anodes' to battery manufacturers to make existing lithium-ion batteries work like super batteries.  Prototypes were tested in July...

Plug-in and Hybrid Locomotives; Another Sweet Spot for Axion Power

John Petersen I'm a cynic and a heretic when it comes to plug-in vehicle schemes because most defy the laws of economic gravity and violate a cardinal rule that Ford engineers developed for the EcoStar light delivery vehicle program in the early '90s: – The unloaded weight of a plug-in vehicle should never exceed 70% of its loaded weight. Investors who pay attention to this simple rule can easily distinguish between pipe-dream vehicle electrification schemes that are nothing more than feel-good eco-bling and realistic vehicle electrification projects that make economic sense. For the last...

Storm Warnings For Lithium-ion Batteries and Electric Vehicles

John Petersen Before moving to Switzerland in 1998 I lived and worked in Houston, Texas, a place that teaches you the importance of keeping an eye on long-term weather forecasts, particularly during hurricane season. Most of the time it turns out to be wasted effort because Mother Nature is fickle and highly unpredictable, but when it's important it's really important. The same logic holds for investments in energy storage and electric vehicle technologies. You have to keep a close eye on the industrial and regulatory climate and be ready to change your plans when conditions change. For...

An Elephant Hunter’s Theory About Axion Power’s Price Surge

An Elephant Hunter's Theory About Axion Power's Price Surge John Petersen Over the last few days I've been inundated with questions from readers who want to know why Axion Power International (AXPW.OB) has smoothly surged from a low of $0.25 on December 30th to a closing price of $0.58 yesterday. The short answer is the stock is finally emerging from the mother of all supply and demand imbalances and the persistent sellers that punished the price over the last 20 months are almost out of the picture. Since I believe we're witnessing the beginning of an entirely...

Nick Hodge’s Night Time Solar Energy Tease

Tom Konrad, CFA NiMH battery company that's going to "make coal and oil obsolete" sleuthed out. I can't help but chuckle at the hyperbole of some promoters of alternative energy stocks.  We can wish that coal and oil will be obsolete tomorrow all we want, but it ain't gonna happen.  That's just what Nick Hodge was claiming in a recent teaser for Highpower Technology (HPJ).  How do I know it's Highpower that Hodge is hailing as the answer to all our hopes?  Because Travis Johnson, the Stock Gumshoe told me so.  Travis is the same...

Lead-Carbon Batteries: A Game Changer for Alternative Energy Storage – Part II

I woke up this morning with a dreadful case of writer’s block and feared that I might have to take a week or two off while awaiting the end of the current SEC reporting cycle. Mercifully, one of my readers sent an e-mail message that asked some pointed questions about lead-carbon battery technologies and the relative strengths and weaknesses of the principal lead-carbon battery developers. So instead of dashing off a quick reply, I thought it might be interesting to share both the message and a detailed response. Besides, it seems like a great way to kill two...

SatCon to Provide Grid-Tied Inverters for Energy Storage System

SatCon Technology Corporation (SATC) announced that it was chosen to supply its grid-tied Starsine inverter for a ZBB Energy Corporation installation demonstrating the benefits of applying energy storage to existing transmission and distribution congestion problems. The project is one of only three selected by the California Energy Commission (CEC) and U.S. Department of Energy to showcase market-ready energy storage technologies as solutions to the growing problem of congestion on the state's power grid. The installation will be located at a PG&E substation. When completed, the system will improve transmission and distribution reliability and allow for the continued use of...

Why Baby Steps For Fuel Efficiency Mean Major Revenue Gains For Lead-acid Battery Manufacturers

John Petersen If EV evangelists have everything their way and lithium-ion battery developers can achieve their lofty cost and performance goals, your long-term future may include a car with a plug. While we wait for that glorious day to arrive your short-term future will almost certainly include a car with stop-start engine technology. The issue is simple – sitting at a stop light with the engine running wastes fuel and fouls the air. Depending on traffic, weather and driving habits, the waste can range from 5% to 15%. On a personal level the waste may seem modest,...

Energy Storage: Q-2 2012 Review and Analysis

John Petersen While I jumped the gun last week and published my third quarter outlook for the energy storage and vehicle electrification sectors early, it's worthwhile to take a look back and see how my tracking list of companies performed over the last quarter and examine the past to see what the tea leaves in the bottom of the cup portend for the coming quarter. So without further delay I'll present my price performance table for the second quarter that ended on Friday. Q-2 was a dreadful quarter for Maxwell Technologies (MXWL) and ZBB Energy...

Johnson Controls Forecasts Enormous Stop-Start Growth

John Petersen On June 27th Johnson Controls (JCI) hosted their 2011 Power Solutions Analyst Day and unveiled their expectations for the future of stop-start idle elimination systems. After noting that all automakers are developing a range of powertrains, JCI used this graph to emphasize their view that the overwhelming bulk of alternative powertrain vehicles over the next five years will have simple, cost effective and fuel efficient stop-start systems. You don't see much about stop-start systems in the mainstream media because politicians and reporters are too enchanted with plug-in vehicles and other exotica...

ETS Interview: The Will the Real Transportation Fuel of the Future Step Forward

For macro reasons, I think that the next generation liquid fuels may be cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel or renewable diesel from algae.  But those fuels will increasingly be sharing the roads with the long term transportation fuel of the future: electricity from renewable sources, especially wind.  Wind will be important for electric transportation and electric transportation will be important for wind because, when you're already going to be charging batteries, you may as well do it when the electricity is cheap, which will be when the wind is blowing..   Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) neatly solve the main barrier...

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.

War With Iran? Buy Alternative Energy Stocks.

September is starting out as the month of speculation about a massive three day air strike on Iran.  Is Bush ready to attack Iran while our troops are still trying to stabilize both Afghanistan and Iraq?  In February, administration officials were denying it.   The preparations now going on could simply be the stick part of a negotiating strategy; the bad cop to Russia's good cop.  But Bush's chances of successful cooperation with Putin could be better. What if? If Bush does launch a massive three day air strike on Iran, what will that mean for alternative energy stocks?  I...

Lead-acid Batteries and How Cheap Beat Cool at Google

On April 1st CNET News published a story about a previously secret technology that Google (GOOG) has patented and implemented system-wide. The technology, which Ben Jai of Google reportedly described as their "Manhattan Project," builds a 12-volt battery into each server to provide backup power. The point that fascinates me is Google's choice of small format valve regulated lead-acid batteries to keep its servers running. When an ultra-sophisticated company like Google picks cheap over cool for a mission critical function, I think it speaks volumes about the future direction of the energy storage industry. Stephen Shankland of...