Turning Conventional Battery Tech into Unconventional Profits

by Debra Fiakas CFA Near the end of February 2014, Highpower International (HPJ:  Nasdaq) announced its first order for large-format lithium ion batteries to use in electric vehicles. Its customer, Huizhou Yipeng Energy Technology will be integrating the batteries into buses destined for the sales outlets of China-based manufacturers. The boost in sales for Highpower is likely to be meaningful.  Management estimates each bus will use as many as 288 of the company’s 20-ampere-hour battery.  Guidance for annual sales from Huizhou Yipeng alone is in a range of $4 million to $5 million.  In the most...

Tesla’s Gigafactory: Guessing Games

James Montgomery Tesla Motors (NASD:TSLA) made a splash last week with its proposed $5 billion "Gigafactory" and its eye-popping numbers: a 10 million square foot facility on an entire land area of 500-1,000 acres, with output of 35 GWh/year of battery cells and 50 GWh/year of battery packs by 2020. That'll be enough to support 500,000 of the company's forthcoming Gen-3 vehicles, compared with a little over 20,000 annual demand for its cars today. By comparison, the entire lithium-ion battery supply-chain produced about 34 GWh in 2013, the vast amount going not to electric vehicles but consumer electronics....

NY Working Hard to Catch Up with CA’s Energy Storage Requirements

Bill Radvak Battery storage is gaining more and more traction in the distributed energy resources community.  Last fall, California passed the first statewide energy storage directive in the United States. Issued by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the mandate requires all investor-owned utilities in the state including Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric, to jointly purchase “1325 megawatts of energy storage” by 2020. “The proposed targets increase between 30% and 55% every two years, creating economic incentives for multiple players with various technologies to enter the market reports Energy...

Twelve Hydrogen And Fuel Cell Stocks

Tom Konrad CFA While many people think first about hydrogen when they think of fuel cells, fuel cells are not limited to hydrogen.  They are a set of related technologies, many of which can generate electricity from a number of hydrocarbon fuels rather than hydrogen.  I limited my recent post on the rapid rise of hydrogen stocks to just US-listed companies involved in the production and use of hydrogen, leaving out foreign stocks and other fuel cell technologies for brevity. In my research for that article, however, I came across fully ten publicly traded companies involved with...

Hydrogen Stocks More Than Double In 2013: Why The Pros Missed The Ride

Tom Konrad CFA Hydrogen Photo via BigStock If you hadn’t noticed that hydrogen stocks are up an average of 131% so far this year, you’re not alone. Both hydrogen fuel cell stocks and hydrogen fuel systems stocks are up strongly.  Plug Power (NASD:PLUG), a maker of hydrogen fuel cell systems for off-road vehicles is up 122% year to date.  Ballard Power Systems, Inc. (NASD:BLDP), which makes hydrogen fuel systems for a wide variety of applications is up 133% so far this year, and 149% from its...

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...

Can ZBB Grab a Piece of the Energy Storage Pie?

by Debra Fiakas CFA There are a lot of different technologies in the energy storage space.  ZBB Energy (ZBB:  NYSE) has staked its future on zinc bromide.  Batteries using zinc-bromide consist of a zinc negative electrode and a bromine positive electrode with a porous separator in between them.  Unlike conventional batteries, these electrodes do not take part in the reactions but merely serve as substrates for the energy reactions.  Thus there is no loss of performance from repeated cycling causing electrode material deterioration.  The zinc-bromine battery can provide two to three times the energy density...

Metal-Air Battery Stocks

by Debra Fiakas CFA Earlier this year, we added metal air batteries and the companies who are working to commercialize the technology on our list of promising acts to follow.  The Israeli battery developer, Phinergy, was added to our Mothers of Invention Index.  Back when I wrote the post “More in the Air than Spring” back in April 2013, Phinergy had attracted a bit of attention for a road test of Citroen C1 car outfitted with a technology far different than conventional lithium ion.  No one knows Phinergy.  It is too small and too foreign to impress...

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...