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...

Coupled Solar and Energy Storage Market to Grow

David Appleyard LONDON The symbiotic match between the solar and energy storage sectors shows significant market promise and could see the sector yielding a US $2.8 billion market over the next five years, Assessing the emerging market for combined solar and energy storage, Lux Research analysts found that residential applications dominate through 2018. As lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries and overall storage arrays fall in price, residential systems will gain the most, growing to 382 MW in 2018, the report suggests. Meanwhile, the light commercial segment will increase to 220 MW although heavy commercial/industrial systems will...

Maxwell’s 54% Q2 Growth: An Outlier, Not A Trend

Tom Konrad CFA When I wrote about Maxwell Technologies’(NASD:MXWL) earnings restatement earlier this month, I predicted that third quarter (Q3) earnings would be much worse than recent trends were leading investors to believe.  I expected the stock would decline as analysts revised their expectations to reflect Maxwell’s weak short term prospects, allowing me to exit my short position, which I still hold. Sure enough, analysts have reduced their earnings expectations.  Analyst consensus earnings expectations for Q3 have reversed from 13 cents to a 10 cent loss, while expectations for 2013 have plunged from 46 cents to 6 cents....

Maxwell’s Earnings Restatement: Some Good, Some Bad, No Ugly

Tom Konrad CFA When Maxwell Technologies (NASD:MXWL) announced problems with its revenue accounting on March 7h, I took a look at the company’s reported Accounts Receivable  (where early revenue recognition usually shows up) and concluded that management had underestimated the scope of the accounting problems. Convinced that there was more to come, I not only sold the stock, but took a short position. On August 1st, Maxwell filed its restated annual reports for 2012 (including restatements of 2011), as well as  statements for the first two quarters of 2013. The Bad News:...

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...

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...

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...

The Hydrogen Problem

Jim Lane HydroMan may do his hydrogen-shift thing via water, at will – but outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we have some hydrogen issues. Psst! Like cutting out a fossil hydrogen dependency for many biofuels. But, new pathways ensure that the status hydroquo may not last for long. A numbers of readers responding to “Biofuels from a raging fireball” (on research work with the raging fireball, Pyrococchus furiosus, to make biofuels and renewable chemicals from hydrogen gas and CO2) raised the question, where is all the hydrogen going to...

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...

How The Micro-hybrid Revolution Will Radically Change The Battery Market

John Petersen In late October I gave a keynote presentation at Batteries 2012, one of the largest lithium-ion battery conferences in the world. During the conference, I was buttonholed for a couple hours by the chairman's global strategy team for one of the top three lithium-ion battery manufacturers in the world. They started by explaining that their Global 100 company is abandoning the plug-in vehicle market to focus on sensible applications where it can earn a reasonable margin. Then they started drilling down with a series of detailed and probing questions about whether any of the principal lead-acid...

Graftech Takes a Leg Down

by Debra Fiakas CFA   Shares of graphite producer Graftech International (GTI:  NYSE) took another long step downward in trading earlier this week, extending a lengthy slide since the beginning of the year.  The shares have attempted a comeback at least twice, but with no success.  GTI has sunk back near its three-year low.  For contrarian investors, this is a good time to take a new look at Graftech  -  a company that has become habitually profitable. After successive losses in the difficult economic period that ensued just after the start of the new millennium, Graftech management regained...