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...

Graphite Producers In Production

by Debra Fiakas CFA The series on graphite resource development is completed with a discussion of the companies that are currently in production.  The U.S. Geological Survey estimates 1.2 million metric tons of flake graphite are produced annually.  The vast majority  -  780,000 metric tons  -  are produced in China.  India and Brazil follow with 170,000 metric tons and 80,000 metric tons, respectively.  North America, which seems to show so much promise to the graphite resource developers that have been featured over the past few articles, is currently only contributing 30,000 metric tons per year to the graphite...

The Graphite Hustle

by Debra Fiakas CFA The Klondike Gold Rush of the 1800s has given way to the Canada Graphite Hustle of the 21st Century.  In what may seem to many an interminable series on graphite resources developers we have made note of over a half dozen companies in Canada attempting to bring new supplies of graphite ore out of the earth.  The action is not limited to Canada.  There are at least a dozen other aspirants with plots in Canada and the rest of North America as well as in Australia and Africa. Piecing together disclosures by the...

There’s Graphite In Them Electric Vehicles

by Debra Fiakas CFA The market for lithium ion batteries is expected to reach $46 billion by 2022.  That represents 11% compound annual growth over the next six years.  Few other markets if any are growing at such a feverish pace.  The adoption of electric cars is the center of the excitement, but the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices also plays a part.  Suppliers of critical battery materials such as lithium, cobalt and graphite are salivating over potential sales to battery manufacturers. Graphite with its strong conductivity and heat-resistant qualities is a perfect material...

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...

Bosch: a Strange Bedfellow for GE

by Debra Fiakas CFA The post “Energy Storage Restart” highlighted General Electric (GE:  NYSE) efforts to get back into the market for renewable energy storage.  Two of the company’s most recent contract wins requires GE to install lithium-ion batteries rather than its own battery technology.  This serves up an entertaining game of ‘who’s the supplier.’  Indeed, GE has partnered with a variety of companies for battery development and any of those could be candidates.  One of the reasons GE might have won two utility-scale contracts is its ability to manage large, complex...

GE and EnerDel: Obvious Bedfellows

by Debra Fiakas CFA In April 2015, General Electric (GE:  NYSE) won a contract to supply Con Edison Development with an 8-megawatt-hour battery storage system at a solar project in California.  The system will incorporate GE’s Mark IVe control system and Brilliance MW inverters.  However, instead of GE’s Durathon sodium-ion batteries, GE will be outsourcing or acquiring lithium-ion batteries for the project. Where will GE source the lithium-ion batteries for the Con Edison Development project?  So far, spokespersons have been non-committal on the name.  GE has had a number of...

Bob Lutz Is Wrong About Tesla

By Jeff Siegel Does Bob Lutz like Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) or not? The bigwig car exec who probably knows more about the car industry than practically anyone else, has certainly tipped his hat to the electric car-maker and to Elon Musk, but when it comes to the stock, he's perpetually bearish. Of course, I've yet to find anyone who can really make sense of the stock. On a technical basis, it's pretty much always been valued at levels that never really coincided with the reality. But the Tesla story has never been about just the technicals. Tesla's valuation...

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...

Solar Storage Dream Becomes Reality

By Jeff Siegel While the solar industry continues to heat up, I maintain that one of the best plays in the space is SunEdison (NYSE: SUNE). This is an aggressive operation, run by incredibly smart people. The company is well-capitalized, fairly liquid, and well-diversified in the energy space, boasting both a top-notch, vertically-integrated solar operation, and a basket of healthy wind assets, too. The company is also now advancing on energy storage – the final obstacle to the creative destruction necessary to alleviate the world's reliance on fossil fuels. In a press release this morning, SunEdison made the following...

SunEdison Adds Batteries to Its Arsenal with Acquisition of Solar Grid Storage

Meg Cichon The renewable energy market has been slowly strengthening ties with energy storage, and it now seems to be tying a secure knot. Wind and solar developer SunEdison (SUNE) announced today that it bought the energy storage team, projects and 100-MW pipeline of Pennsylvania-based Solar Grid Storage (SGS). SunEdison is now able to offer integrated battery storage solutions for its renewable energy project portfolio, and delve into an energy storage market that is set to grow 250 percent in 2015, according to a new report from the Energy Storage Association and GTM Research. The solar plus battery...

Charging Your Portfolio With Tesla’s Gigafactory

By Jeff Siegel Last week, Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) announced that its next electric offering a competitively priced electric vehicle will hit the market in 2017. Dubbed the Model III, the 200-mile-range electric vehicle will go for $35,000. Certainly this was big news for electric car enthusiasts particularly those who can't afford an $85,000 Model S but yearn to drive one. But if you regularly follow trends in the electric vehicle space, at least the way I do, you know Tesla's announcement was just one of many big moves in the space over the...

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...

Turning Conventional Battery Tech into Unconventional Profits

by Debra Fiakas CFA Near the end of February 2014, Highpower International (HPJ:  Nasdaq) announced its first order for large-format lithium ion batteries to use in electric vehicles. Its customer, Huizhou Yipeng Energy Technology will be integrating the batteries into buses destined for the sales outlets of China-based manufacturers. The boost in sales for Highpower is likely to be meaningful.  Management estimates each bus will use as many as 288 of the company’s 20-ampere-hour battery.  Guidance for annual sales from Huizhou Yipeng alone is in a range of $4 million to $5 million.  In the most...

Tesla’s Gigafactory: Guessing Games

James Montgomery Tesla Motors (NASD:TSLA) made a splash last week with its proposed $5 billion "Gigafactory" and its eye-popping numbers: a 10 million square foot facility on an entire land area of 500-1,000 acres, with output of 35 GWh/year of battery cells and 50 GWh/year of battery packs by 2020. That'll be enough to support 500,000 of the company's forthcoming Gen-3 vehicles, compared with a little over 20,000 annual demand for its cars today. By comparison, the entire lithium-ion battery supply-chain produced about 34 GWh in 2013, the vast amount going not to electric vehicles but consumer electronics....

Axion Power: Improving on the Conventional

by Debra Fiakas CFA While the rest of the battery industry is trying to perfect new technologies, Axion Power International (AXPW:  OTC/QB) has been working on a fix for conventional lead acid batteries.   Low cost made the lead acid batteries popular even from the early days when a French scientist first introduced the configuration in the mid 1800s.  Lead-acid technologies represent about half of batteries made today.  Unfortunately, lead-acid batteries have low energy-to-weight and volume.  Storage times are limited.  They also have corrosion problems.  The active materials in lead-acid batteries change physical form during charge...