White House Report: GM Volt is Not Ready for Prime Time

In it's March 30, 2009 summary determination that GM had failed to propose a viable bankruptcy alternative, the President's auto industry task force said:"GM is at least one generation behind Toyota on advanced, "green" powertrain development. In an attempt to leapfrog Toyota, GM has devoted significant resources to the Chevy Volt. While the Volt holds promise, it is currently projected to be much more expensive than its gasoline-fueled peers and will likely need substantial reductions in manufacturing cost in order to become commercially viable." This extraordinary conclusion has been public for weeks but I've not seen it...

Take A Bromide For Flow Battery Frustration

by Debra Fiakas CFA The most recent article Vanadium Flow Battery Stocks: Barely A Dribble may have disappointed some investors who were expecting more opportunity for a stake in building energy storage.  Large scale energy storage is an idea to which many in the utility industry speak, but few power producers have made significant investments beyond lithium ion batteries.  Flow batteries have long been touted as a cost-effective and technically superior alternative for wind or solar power storage or for load-balancing efforts on the electric grid, as examples.  In the last post we looked at the flow battery...
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...

Electrovaya’s Battery Bargain

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last week management of Electrovaya Inc. (EFL: TSX; EFLVF:  OTC/QB) were forced to issue a statement stating there were no fundamental developments to explain a dramatic decline in its share price.  The stock was trimmed back by 30% in two days under exceptional trading volume.  Electrovaya has developed proprietary lithium ion polymer batteries for grid storage and transportation applications.  Other than financial results for the quarter ending March 2017, the Company has had little to tell investors about the batteries, its customers or any other topic. Electrovaya distinguishes its lithium ion batteries among...

PHEVs and EVs; Plugging Into a Lump of Coal

John Petersen Since I've stirred up a hornet's nest over the last two weeks first by debunking the mythology that PHEVs and EVs will save their owners money and then by showing how PHEVs and EVs will sabotage America's drive for energy independence, I figured I might as well go for the triple-crown of harsh realities by showing readers that in the U.S., where 70% of electricity comes from burning hydrocarbons, PHEVs and EVs won't make a dent in CO2 emissions. They'll just take distributed CO2 emissions off the roads and centralize them in coal and gas...

Investment Opportunities in Large Scale Electricity Storage

The Economist had two great articles last week on two of may favorite themes in renewable energy, which I missed getting to Charles in time for  The Week in Cleantech.  Both deal with modernizing the grid to deal with the vagaries of wind.  The first is an in depth look at electricity transmission via High Voltage DC, a subject I recently wrote about in an article on ABB.  The second dealt with compressed air energy storage (CAES) which is the second cheapest way to store electricity, after pumped hydro.  Unfortunately, I have not found good ways for the stock...

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...

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...

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...

Plug-in Vehicles Combine Immense Risk With Insignificant Reward

John Petersen Albert Einstein once said, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." So when the editor of Batteries International asked if I could present my analysis of plug-in vehicles in two pages and prove my numbers in a way that any open-minded adult could follow, understand and verify with an Internet search engine, I jumped at the challenge. The article was published yesterday in their Winter Edition. Since the numbers have profound implications for the energy storage sector and an expected flurry of ill-conceived electric vehicle projects like the planned Tesla Motors...

Alternative Energy Storage: Enabling the Smart Grid

America’s electric power grid is subject to immense inefficiencies that arise from the interplay between centralized power generation, local power consumption and on demand utility service. To put things into a broad perspective, the nameplate capacity of U.S. generating facilities is about 1 million Megawatts (MW), so if all of our power plants ran 24/7 we would have a theoretical annual generating capacity of 8.7 billion Megawatt-hours (MWh). Since demand for electricity fluctuates on both a daily and seasonal basis, total electric power generation in 2007 was only 4.2 billion MWh, or less than 50% of nameplate...

Plug-in Vehicles; Waist Deep In The Big Muddy

John Petersen Generation specific cultural references can be treacherous ground for bloggers because the flashback effect is usually limited to readers with long and vivid memories. In this case, however, the lessons of history are so relevant that I'll accept the risk and offer some context for younger readers. In my youth a war wrapped in the liberal ideology of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and fueled by an underlying concern over who would control oil and gas resources in the Gulf of Tonkin was fought in the jungles of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. By current standards,...
Epanko

Canadian and Tanzanian Graphite Connections

A list of graphite companies covered in this series can be found here. Like performance test results, customer relationships are critical stepping stones for graphite developers.  In June 2018, Northern Graphite (NGC: TSX-V) announced a memorandum of understanding with a European trading company to sell 100% of the output from Northern’s Bisset Creek resources in Ontario, Canada.  China-based manufacturers are the intended end-users.  Northern management is using the arrangement as leverage with prospective investors to finance mine infrastructure and processing equipment.  Capital costs are expected to exceed CA$145 million. Northern claims a proprietary purification technology the company intends to use to upgrade its graphite output.    Its Bissett Creek deposit...

No Battery Producer Left Behind

by Debra Fiakas CFA In late 2009, nine companies in the battery sector were recipients of American Reconstruction and Recovery Act (ARRA) funds awarded by the Department of Energy to jump start manufacturing capacity.  By the end of December 2011, six of them had made enough progress to begin production.  Three were lagging behind, including Exide Technologies (XIDE:  Nasdaq) and its partner Axion Power International (AXPW:  OTC/BB).   Exide's Sundancer Electric Car, October 1973. Exide and Axion are not looking so quick today.  Photo by Frank Lodge, EPA. Public Domain ...

The Obama Fast Track for HEVs

John PetersenToday I'm going to begin with an apology because I've done a terrible job of describing the basics of hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) technology for energy storage investors. Many of my earlier articles dove straight into the mind-numbing details of battery technology without first providing an overview of what those batteries will be used for. In other words I'm guilty of putting the cart before the horse. It's time for me to make amends. While the differences between HEV technologies have always been important to automobile manufacturers, the public's understanding of those differences is limited. That...

Plug-in Vehicle Subsidies; Taxing Peter To Buy Paul’s New Car

John Petersen Industrial subsidies have been an important feature of the American economic landscape since the late 19th century for one simple reason – they work. After the steam locomotive proved its ability to quickly and cheaply move people and cargo long distances, the government launched a massive effort to span the country with steel rails and bring the benefits of a rapid, safe and reliable national transportation system to all its citizens. After electric lighting proved its merit, the rush was on to build a national infrastructure and bring the benefits to all. After the internal combustion...