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...

Metal-Air Battery Stocks

by Debra Fiakas CFA Earlier this year, we added metal air batteries and the companies who are working to commercialize the technology on our list of promising acts to follow.  The Israeli battery developer, Phinergy, was added to our Mothers of Invention Index.  Back when I wrote the post “More in the Air than Spring” back in April 2013, Phinergy had attracted a bit of attention for a road test of Citroen C1 car outfitted with a technology far different than conventional lithium ion.  No one knows Phinergy.  It is too small and too foreign to impress...

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...

Axion Power’s Potential For Explosive Growth

Tom Konrad, CFA Axion Power International, Inc. (OTC:AXPW) has been developing its patented PbC lead-carbon battery technology, and in 2013 those efforts seem on the verge of paying off.   Unfortunately, Axion’s financing situation makes me unwilling to recommend its stock as an investment in the near term, but I do consider it one to watch.  This article will take a look at Axion’s technology and near term potential markets.  A follow-up article (published here) will discuss the company’s financing situation, and the things which will need to change before I consider the stock an...

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...

Selling Exide

Tom Konrad CFA Electric Storage Battery Company advertisement for Exide batteries in the journal Horseless Age, January 15, 1918 I sold my position in Exide Technologies (NASD:XIDE) on April 25th after the company was forced to shut down its Vernon secondary lead recycling facility by the California Department of Toxic Substances (DTSC.)  In addition to the known arsenic furnace emissions, the DTSC cited the facility’s underground storm water system as not being in compliance with CA requirements. When I last wrote about Exide, I felt that the problems at the Vernon facility were not...

Are Investors Right To Panic About Exide Technologies?

Tom Konrad CFA Thursday Afternoon Panic On Thursday, April 4th, battery manufacturer and recycler Exide Technologies’ (NASD:XIDE) stock plunged, starting around 2pm.  There was no press release or SEC filing from the company, or stories on the public newswires.  Likely short sellers were stoking rumors on the chat boards that the company had filed for bankruptcy, and that the story was on Reuters. Electric Storage Battery Company advertisement for Exide batteries in the journal Horseless Age, January 15, 1918 Intraday, panicked shareholders dumped their shares for as little as $1.16,...

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...

Metal-Air Battery Stocks

by Debra Fiakas CFA A small Israeli battery developer, Phinergy, is getting attention in the press for a road test of a Citreon C1 car outfitted with Phinergy’s metal-air batteries.  Confined mostly to military applications, metal-air batteries have not gained as much attention as lithium-ion applications. Indeed, the Citreon is principally powered by a lithium-ion power package that has been installed in the trunk.  Phinergy’s metal-air batteries are to be used as a range extender. Long-use is really the metal-air battery’s main attraction.  Like regular batteries Phinergy’s metal-air battery has an anode.  It is made from...