What I Sold: VRB Power (VRBPF.PK, VRB.V)

VRB Power is the only public vendor of a flow battery chemistry, the Vanadium Redox Battery. I bought the company when I first realized that in order to get a large proportion of intermittent wind and solar energy onto the grid, long term electricity storage would be essential.  Of the available technologies, flow batteries are some of most technically elegant.  Since VRB is one of only two publicly traded vendors of large scale batteries, I bought some.   Lessons Learned I was not being discriminating.  Even with the belief that large scale storage will soon be needed to integrate...

Shares in Active Power Purchased

I currently don't have time to do a complete writeup on this stock, but wanted to let everyone know that I purchased shares in Active Power Inc (ACPW) this afternoon for both my personal portfolio and the mutual fund. The average price was at $3.77. I will updated this post later this afternoon with more details. Updated at 10:00 PM As I mentioned above I purchased shares in Active Power Inc (ACPW) this afternoon for both the mutual fund and my personal portfolio. Active Power designs and sells battery-free uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems....

Will Surging Smart Grid Investments Result in Surging Electric Prices?

John Petersen The electric power system in the U.S. is dirty, antiquated, stupid, unstable, and a security nightmare. After years of discussion and debate, consensus now holds that the generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure will need hundreds of billions in new investment to reduce emissions, improve reliability, minimize waste and inefficiency, improve security, and facilitate the integration of wind, solar and other emerging alternative energy technologies. Commonly cited capital spending estimates range from $200 billion globally by 2015 to $2 trillion overall. In his November 2008 report, "The Sixth Industrial Revolution: The Coming of Cleantech," Merrill Lynch strategist...

Clarifying the Confusion – Storage and Cost Effectiveness

by Chris Edgette, Senior Director, California Energy Storage Alliance and Charlie Barnhart, Postdoctoral Scholar, Global Climate and Energy Project, Stanford University Is storage cost effective?  Misinterpretations of a Stanford study on the energetic performance of energy storage recently published in Energy and Environmental Science appear to have added to the confusion surrounding this topic.  To clarify a few misconceptions, we (California Energy Storage Alliance, or ‘CESA’) teamed with the Charles Barnhart, the lead-author of the Stanford study, to set the record straight. The Stanford Study compared the energetic costs of energy storage resources to the energetic...

The Lead Acid Battery Sector Is Starting A Bull Run

John Petersen It's been a very good week for companies in the lead-acid battery sector and from all indications the fun is just beginning. Unlike most market sectors, the principal players in the lead-acid group report on a fiscal year basis instead of a calendar year basis. Enersys (ENS) and Exide Technologies (XIDE) both use fiscal years that end March 31st, and C&D Technologies (CHP) uses a fiscal year that ends January 31st. That makes the first two weeks of June a busy time as Enersys and Exide report annual results and C&D reports first quarter results. ...

The Alternative Energy Fallacy

John Petersen In 2009, the world produced some 13.2 billion metric tons of hydrocarbons, or about 4,200 pounds for every man, woman and child on the planet. Burning those hydrocarbons poured roughly 31.3 billion metric tons of CO2 into our atmosphere. The basic premise of alternative energy is that widespread deployments of wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles will slash hydrocarbon consumption, reduce CO2 emissions and give us a cleaner, greener and healthier planet. That premise, however, is fatally flawed because our planet cannot produce enough non-ferrous industrial metals to make a meaningful difference and the prices...

List of Electricity Storage Stocks

Electricity storage stocks are publicly traded companies whose business involves the storage of electricity.  They include battery stocks and hydrogen stocks (see links), while companies involved in other storage technologies such as pumped hydro energy storage, Compressed Air Energy Storage, capacitors, flywheels, and thermal storage are listed here. Dais Analytic Corp. (DLYT) Dresser-Rand Group (DRC) Graftech International (GTI) Highpower International (HPJ) Kemet Corp. (KEM) Maxwell Technologies Inc (MXWL) If you know of any energy storage stock that is not listed here and should be, please let us know by leaving a comment. Also for stocks in the list that you think should be removed.

Electric Vehicles; Ineptitude, apathy … and piles of taxpayer money

John Petersen The last few weeks have been a media and political circus in the US as a pair of high-profile Department of Energy loan guarantees wound up in bankruptcy court. In the first case, solar power innovator Solyndra filed two years after closing a $535 million loan for a factory that never quite made it into production. In the second case, flywheel storage innovator Beacon Power (BCONQ.PK) filed about a year after scoring a $43 million loan for a 20 MW frequency regulation plant that was commissioned in June. Both are black eyes for the Obama administration’s...

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...

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...

Energy Storage: Why We Need It, Why We Don’t

Energy storage, transmission, and Demand Response cost comparison chart by Tom Konrad It's almost a cliché that there's a "friendly debate" pitting utilities against renewable energy. But concerns on the utility side of the table are real: intermittency, potential destabilization at the feeder level, non-baseload, and peaks in generation that don't necessarily match demand peaks. Today's power infrastructure involves unpredictability in both supply and demand that is extremely difficult to manage. The choice comes down to two options: over-generate so as to not undersupply, or find ways to better...

EnerSys Invests in Lithium-Ion Battery Business

EnerSys (ENS) announced today that it has purchased a controlling interest in Modular Energy Devices, Inc. (ModEnergy), a development stage company. ModEnergy produces large format lithium-ion rechargeable batteries utilized in aerospace and defense applications as well as specialized standby power and commercial applications. ModEnergy, based in Westerly, Rhode Island, has developed a proprietary method for assembling lithium-ion cells into battery systems that are designed to be safer and more cost effective than competitive products currently available.

A123’s Planned IPO Moves to the Front Burner

John Petersen   After six months of regulatory silence and $100 million in new funding, A123 Systems amended the SEC registration statement for its proposed IPO on June 23rd. While this latest filing may simply be A123's way demonstrating its ability to raise matching funds for a scaled back ATVM loan request of $1 billion and pending applications for $438 million in direct Federal grants, my sense is that the proposed IPO will probably come to market in early September. Since ATVM loans will require 20% cost sharing and direct Federal grants will require 50% cost...
SS Battery Diagram

In Search Of Solid State Battery Stocks

by Debra Fiakas, CFA Greater energy density or the amount of energy stored is the mission of every battery developer.  The higher the energy density, the longer a battery can serve its owner.  Scientists have been adjusting circulating chemistry, cloaking electrodes in exotic metals, and otherwise tinkering with conventional battery designs.  Debate even spills over into the raw material supply chain as it has recently over the use of expensive and sometimes difficult to source cobalt as an additive to lithium ion battery designs.   Others are trying to tame silicon for use in battery anodes. Perhaps the most daring developers have abandoned conventional battery design...

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...

A123’s Sale Moves Ahead

Doug Young A123 Systems battery cell products (Source: A123) After a stormy 2012 that saw growing trade friction between China and the US, I'm happy to see that 2013 is getting off to a better start with Washington's approval of a potentially sensitive sale of a bankruptcy US technology firm to a Chinese buyer. Many readers will know that I'm talking about the case of A123 Systems (AONEQ), a former high-flying US battery maker that fell on hard times as new energy industries worldwide experienced a broader...