SFC Energy: Growing Remote Power

by Debra Fiakas CFA Fuel cell developer SFC Energy, A.G. (F3C.DE) recently came calling on money managers in New York City.  The company’s chief financial officer Steffen Schneider wants U.S. investors to know SFC has more going for it than simple fuel cells.  True enough the company sells fuel cell components, but it is also capable of delivering complete off-grid energy solutions and integrating full systems. Schneider talks up SFC’s sterling customer list, including Volkswagen, Siemens, Schlumberger, Shell Oil, Arch Coal, Conoco-Phillips, and other industrial users.  Then there are government agencies such as NATO, the FBI in...

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. ...

Hydrogen Fuel Cells: Comparing Efficiencies

The previous articles in this series focused on the power costs and operational lifetimes of hydrogen fuel cells. These factors are important, as cheaper and long-lasting fuel cells are vital for the adoption of hydrogen as a fuel. (For details of how these cells work, refer to the first article). Cost and durability are far from being the only characteristics of fuel cells worth consideration. Here we focus on fuel cell efficiency - this is the proportion of the chemical energy stored within the hydrogen supplied to the fuel cell, that is eventually converted into usable electricity. The graph shows the...

FuelCell Energy Rising

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last week I was surprised to find FuelCell Energy (FCEL:  Nasdaq) on a list of companies registering a particularly bullish technical formation called an ‘Aroon’ indicator.  This measure that is designed to reveal stocks entering a new, decisive trend.  Shares of this fuel cell technology developer and producer had been in a steady decline through most of the year 2014, reaching a 52-week low price of $1.05 in January 2015.  However, since then FCEL has regained 27% from that low point. Source:  Stockcharts.com   The turn in fortunes seemed to...

Toyota Opens The Fuel Cell Kimono

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last week Toyota Motor Corporation (TM:  NYSE) announced its intention to share its patented fuel cell technology with other automotive manufacturers.    Engineers from competing auto manufacturers can get a look at Toyota’s fuel cell designs up through 2020.  Toyota has taken a page from Tesla Motors (TSLA:  Nasdaq), which made its electric vehicle battery designs available to the public last year.  Since the car business is intensely competitive, automotive manufacturers are typically quite circumspect about their innovations.  However, producers of cars powered by alternative energy sources are faced with a unique problem ...

Has the fuel-cell industry reached a tipping point?

Tyler Hamilton There was a shareholder who stood up at Ballard Power’s annual meeting last week to share her experience with the company’s stock price. It pretty much summed up the frustration shared by most investors in the fuel-cell industry. This investor has owned Ballard (BLDP) shares for most of 20 years. She sold in early 2000 when the stock hit $140 a share and did quite well. That was when the hype around fuel-cell powered cars was approaching its fever pitch. Later that year she bought back into the company at about $120 a share, believing...

Vectrix Fuel Cell Scooter Debut

Vectrix debut their fuel-cell-equipped prototype at the Fuel Cell Seminar in Miami Beach, Fla. in November of this year. They plan to bring this new scooter to market by 2006. Vectrix is 50% owned by Parker Hannifin Corp (PH). Hannifin provides the compressor that is twice as efficient and twice as durable as competing technologies. Parker Hannifin engineers say that it could serve as a cathode air compressor or as a hydrogen recirculation pump on all kinds of fuel cells, both in vehicles and stationary power applications. They are also utilizing battery technology...

Counting Out FuelCell Energy?

by Debra Fiakas CFA This afternoon FuelCell Energy, Inc. (FCEL:  Nasdaq) is scheduled to report results for its fiscal third quarter ending July 2012.  As its corporate name suggests the company produces fuel cells for use as power plants or grid alternatives.  FuelCell has customers, but has yet to reach profitability.  No embarrassment there.  None of the other U.S.-based fuel cell producers has delivered earnings to shareholders either and two have had to file for bankruptcy protection. Journalists have made light of fuel cell developers as perpetually unprofitable.  Last year one even made a list of profitable...

Bloom Energy’s IPO Will Soar on Cheap Natural Gas

By Jeff Siegel It was boasted as an energy breakthrough. Bloom Energy's Bloom Box paraded around the media  including a very generous piece aired by 60 Minutes as some kind of new, game-changing magical energy creation device that would change the world. Problem is, it's not really “new.” And it's certainly not going to change the world. But don't tell that to the folks who are looking to take the company public, perhaps as soon as this year. Now, I'm not saying a Bloom Energy IPO would fail. In fact, based on the hype surrounding the...

Hydrogenics Corp: Splitting Water

by Debra Fiakas, CFA Most investors, if they have heard of Hydrogenics Corporation (HYGS: Nasdaq) at all, consider them a fuel cell producer. However, about two-thirds of the company’s revenue comes from the design and manufacture of hydrogen generation products based on water electrolysis technology - a somewhat unique, but valuable electrochemical technology that could make important contributions to the world’s future energy base. Electrolysis or the splitting of water molecules using an electric current produces hydrogen and oxygen - two elements that have market potential in a variety of industrial and power markets. It stands in...

Alkaline Fuel Cells – In Need of Revival

The previous article in this series on hydrogen fuel-cells focused on proton-exchange membranes fuel cells (PEMFCs). These cells have been the interest of the industry in recent years, and make up the majority of the market. However, it is also worth discussing alkaline fuel cells (ALKFCs), an older variety of cells that remain prominent today. (For details on how these cells work, refer to the first article in this series). The graph shows the power costs ($/kW) of PEMFCs and ALKFCs as the technology has advanced over time. In other words, it plots the initial capital cost for every 1...

Ballard Power Posts Narrower Loss in 2Q

Ballard Power (BLDP) has announced that second-quarter losses narrowed year-over-year to post better-than-expected results, but revenue declined across many business segments on lower volumes and decreased demand. Revenue fell to $21.2 million from $29.1 million for the same period in 2003, primarily due to lower product revenue as a result of completing deliveries of heavy-duty bus engines to the European Fuel Cell Bus Project in 2003. The significant decline in engineering service revenue in the latest quarter was due to the development phase of the current generation light-duty fuel cell engine program nearing completion and the next generation...

Astris Energi Pays Down Debenture Now Debt Free

Astris Energi Inc. (ASRNF), the world's leading alkaline fuel cell (AFC) technology company, announced today it has paid down an existing debenture thus eliminating Astris' only long-term financial liability.

Sumitomo Corporation Obtains Approval for Hydrogen Storage System Built by QTWW

Sumitomo Corporation has announced that is has obtained Japan's first certification for a 700-bar (10,000psi) pressurized hydrogen storage system for fuel cell vehicles in collaboration with Suzuki in July 2004. The hydrogen storage system that Sumitomo is using is produced by Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide Inc (QTWW). This is the third country where Quantum hydrogen storage system has been approved for use.

Mantra’s Promise of Innovation

by Debra Fiakas CFA How often do we see the crowd rooting for the underdog?  You could hear the cheers for Mantra Energy (MVTG:  OTC) last week at the Marcum Microcap Conference in New York City.  Mantra is a developmental stage company pursuing technologies to harness carbon dioxide for energy.  Of course, the company has no revenue and therefore no earnings.  Indeed, its technologies are so unique and as yet at such an early stage some might find them almost fanciful.   Yet for some investors, a fanciful underdog is even better than another.   Mantra sees itself...

Fuel Cell Follies: Off-Roading

by Debra Fiakas CFA Consumer adoption of hydrogen-fueled vehicles could have quite a catalytic impact on the entire fuel cell industry.  Two of the public fuel cell technology companies come to mind first:  Plug Power, Inc. (PLUG:  Nasdaq), FuelCell Energy, Inc. (FCEL:  Nasdaq) and Ballard Power Systems, Inc. (BLDP:  Nasdaq).  These companies have been toiling away for years on fuel cell technologies, finding success on the periphery with industrial, campus and power generation solutions.  All three companies trade at modest prices and could look like great bargains for investors with an extended investment horizon.  Forklift Fuel Cells...
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