Arotech Receives Order from US Air Force for Man Portable Zinc-Air Batteries

Arotech Corporation (ARTX) announced today that its Battery and Power Systems Division has received a pilot order for its new 4th generation man portable Zinc Air battery packs from the US Air Force. Developed and manufactured by its Electric Fuel Battery Corporation subsidiary, Arotech's new battery pack is a 12 or 24 Volt battery with a total capacity of over 400Wh and Battery Energy Density of approximately 300Wh/kg. The new battery pack is optimized for use in vests, as man portable tactical radios are typically vest-worn in holsters. The pack is also designed for use in rucksacks. ...

Energy Storage: Q4 2012 Winners and Losers

John Petersen In late June I wrote a forward looking article that identified several companies in my energy storage and vehicle electrification group that I expected to perform well or perform poorly during the third quarter. Since short-term market changes are notoriously hard to predict, it’s worthwhile to look back and see where I got things right and where I got them wrong. So I’ll start today with a quick summary table and assess the relative accuracy of my Q3 calls, and then turn my attention to Q4, which is shaping up as a time of bright opportunity...

Pure Play Energy Storage Stocks Year-End Review And Outlook

John Petersen With only a couple trading days left in 2009, this is as good a time as any for a performance review. The predictions I made at this time last year were pretty solid with an 80% accuracy rate on price direction. For the year, a $1,000 investment in each of my green star companies would have yielded a portfolio appreciation of 67%, which handily beat the broader market indices. That being said, my star and caution ratings were a good deal less prescient because I seriously underestimated the potential of both Maxwell Technologies (MXWL) and Active...

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...

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...

California Energy Commission Awards Beacon Power $1.2 Million Contract for Major Energy Storage Project

Beacon Power Corp (BCON) announced that it has executed a contract with the California Energy Commission to demonstrate an advanced energy storage solution for frequency regulation and grid stability. At a business meeting on December 1, 2004, the California Energy Commission had given its approval to the project, leading to contract negotiations that have now been finalized. The contract is expected to produce approximately $1.2 million of revenue, with the majority of it in 2005.

DOE Reports That Lithium-ion Batteries Are Still Not Ready For Prime Time

John Petersen Last month the DOE released the 2009 Annual Progress Report for its Energy Storage Research and Development Vehicle Technologies Program. Like the 2008 Annual Progress Report I discussed in a February 2009 article titled DOE Reports That Lithium-ion Batteries Are Not Ready For Prime Time, this new report is a relatively upbeat assessment of lithium-ion battery research and development that once again provides a stark reality check for investors in energy storage stocks. In Section III of the Report, which focuses primarily on meat and potatoes issues like R&D objectives, technical barriers, technical targets and recent...

Why Advanced Lithium Ion Batteries Won’t Be Recycled

John Petersen One of the most pervasive and enduring myths in the energy storage sector is that a robust recycling infrastructure for used lithium-ion batteries will be built before the wonder-batteries that are being manufactured today for the first generation of plug-in vehicles reach the end of their useful lives. In the worst case scenario, advocates suggest used lithium-ion batteries will be stockpiled until there are enough used batteries to justify the build-out of recycling infrastructure. The numbers tell a very different story. For several years the single minded obsession of all lithium-ion battery developers...

Flux Powers into Battery Management

by Debra Fiakas CFA   Proper electric and thermal management of advanced battery packs is imperative.  During operation, voltage and temperature differences in the battery cells can lead to electrical imbalances and decrease system performance.  A good battery management system can ensure strong power delivery and extend battery life.  Dozens of battery management systems have cropped up to fill this need for the lithium ion batteries used in new electric vehicles and alternative energy applications.  The highly populated field has not intimidated the newest competitor, Flux Power Holdings, Inc. (FLUX:  OTC/BB). Flux is a 2008 spin-off of...

Plug-in Vehicle Hucksters are Doing P.T. Barnum Proud

David Hannum was right! There's a sucker born every minute and they're all waiting with bated breath for the low-cost plug-in electric vehicles that are coming soon to a dealership near you; if they're not quietly cancelled first. It's the most insidiously appealing idea of our age: replace those nasty gasoline burning engines with cheap batteries that recharge in minutes and save a fortune on fuel while you "See the USA in Your Chevrolet." It's so appealing in fact that it ranks right up there with free lunch. P.T. Barnum would have been proud. ...

A Very Smart Plan for Federal Smart Grid Grants

In mid-February President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), a massive spending bill that spawned gigabytes of analysis and comment from bloggers like me. Unlike many, I've tried to stay politically agnostic and focus solely on the economic impact of ARRA on companies that manufacture batteries and other energy storage devices. From that limited perspective, everything is wonderful! The principal energy storage appropriations included in the ARRA were: $4,500,000,000 for grants for “Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability” including activities to modernize the electric grid, include demand response equipment, enhance security...

Smart DOE Battery Manufacturing Grants and Dilution For Dummies

John Petersen Last month I wrote about a very smart plan the DOE developed for $4.5 billion in smart grid grants authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ("ARRA"). I was particularly impressed that the DOE's plan created a functional public-private partnership where grants would be available to companies that could raise matching funds from private sources, but would be denied to companies that could not attract substantial private sector funding. While I hoped a similar plan would be adopted for $2 billion in ARRA battery manufacturing grants, my research was hindered by a broken link...

Energy Conversion 4Q Sales Disappoint

Energy Conversion Devices Inc (ENER) announced quarterly results on Monday. They beat Wall Street expecations with a less than expected loss, but did not meet sales estimates. They posted a loss of $6.9 million, or 23 cents per share, for the three months ended June 30, compared with a year-ago loss of $11.5 million, or 44 cents per share. The company's loss from continuing operations was 22 cents per share. Wall Street estimates on the loss were 26 cents a share. The stock is currently trading down over 4% in pre-market trading. I have been looking for a...

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...

Battery Investing for Beginners, Part 3; Resetting The Cheap vs. Cool Baseline

9.30.09 Cheap vs Cool John Petersen I've been blogging about pure-play energy storage device manufacturers since July 2008. By mid-November I'd assembled a short list of thirteen pure-play public companies that accounted for almost 25% of the $30 billion global battery market. Frankly I was shocked to learn that major battery manufacturers like Exide (XIDE) and Enersys (ENS) that report billions in annual sales carried tiny market capitalizations when compared with far riskier technology development companies like Ener1 (HEV) and Valence Technology (VLNC) that would be little more than rounding errors on the big boys' financial statements....

Will A123’s Batteries Make the Great Leap from Design Bench to Store Shelf?

by Debra Fiakas CFA In my last post Paper Power I outlined the attempt to develop a battery using carbon nanotubes and paper.   The materials seemed a bit unbelievable and it sent me into the history books to look at the battery.  In the mid-1700s Ben Franklin may have been the one who first coined the term battery to describe the capacitors had strung together for his experiments.  We all know about the scientist, turned politician.  What is less well known is that the ancients may have also attempted a battery-like instrument now called the “Baghdad Battery.” ...