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...

Hydrogenics: New Capital, New Orders

by Debra Fiakas CFA   Hydrogen technology developer and fuel cell producer  Hydrogenics, Inc. (HYGS:  Nasdaq) closed out last year ‘following on’ with new capital and new fuel cell orders.  The company staged a public sale of its common stock through what is frequently referred to as a ‘follow on’ offering, coming along as this one did some years after the company’s initial public offering.  The pricing of these new shares of common stock was ‘followed’ quite closely by announcement of a new order for Hydrogenics fuel cells by a forklift manufacturer in North America.  The appearance...

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...

GE’s Energy Storage Restart

by Debra Fiakas CFA A few years ago General Electric (GE:  NYSE) built out a manufacturing facility in Schenectady, New York for its sodium-ion batteries.  CEO Jeff Immelt declared the company a contender in the energy storage industry.  He projected that the company could ring up $500 million in annual sales by 2016, and build to $1 billion a year by 2020 by providing energy storage to utility-scale alternative energy projects.  Reality has been a bit different than Immelt's vision.  GE ended up shuttering the plant in the Fall 2014, and all but fifty employees were...

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...

Hypersolar: Hydrogen In A Baggie

by Debra Fiakas CFA The last post “Man Makes Mother Nature Look Like a Lazy Maid” featured the work of Harvard scientists who have developed a breakthrough ‘bionic leaf’ system that uses sunlight to split water into hydrogen and then combine it with carbon to make isopropanol, an alcohol that can be used as fuel.  It is very much like reverse combustion.  Kudos to Harvard!  However, the good folks at Harvard are not alone in their quest to outsmart Mother Nature. In the late 1990s, the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado had reported progress...

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...

Tesla Vs. Hydrogen

By Jeff Siegel One of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's dreams may soon be coming to fruition. During his time as governor, while singing the praises of renewable energy progress in the Golden State, the Terminator would often tell tree-hugging Californians about his dream of building a hydrogen highway that would enable hydrogen-powered vehicles to run from Mexico to Canada  via California. Not only did Prius drivers and vegans applaud the governor's dream, but it even got a decent amount of support from former GM Chairman Bob Lutz and President George W. Bush. Since that time, California has managed to build...

Making Hydrogen From Ethanol

by Debra Fiakas CFA Cars powered by fuel cells or batteries are only as clean as the electricity used to produce the power source.  Proponents of hydrogen fuel cells argue that fuel cells have an edge over batteries, because hydrogen can ultimately be made cleaner with innovations in hydrogen production.  Steam reforming of natural gas is the most common source of hydrogen and for the most part it is still the most cost-effective process for large-scale production of hydrogen.  Since ethanol is a renewable resource, the steam reforming of ethanol has been proposed by some as...

Ballard Terminates Azure Hydrogen Licenses; Can It Find A Better China Partner?

by Debra Fiakas CFA Before the open of the first trading day of 2015, fuel cell developer Ballard Power Systems (BLDP:  Nasdaq) announced the termination of technology licenses to Azure Hydrogen, which was to have been Ballard’s introduction to the China market. The license agreements covered the sale of Ballard’s bus power module and telecom backup power system.  Ballard has charged Azure with breaching the agreements and the two companies have apparently not been able to come to alternative terms.  Azure had made sales in the China and not all of the equipment had been paid. ...