Geothermal Should Ride The Duck Curve

Meg Cichon As the geothermal industry limps along year after year, a utility insider strongly suggests that it changes its tactics. For years the geothermal industry has relentlessly boasted that it is a baseload resource, meaning it provides stable power similar to a coal or natural gas plant, except without all of those pesky carbon emissions. While upfront costs to develop a plant are higher than other renewable sources, geothermal leaders say that this baseload aspect makes it a more attractive resource in the long run since the grid needs more stable power as increasing amounts of...

Geothermal Transmission 101

Paul Schwabe Among renewable resources, one of the most valuable attributes of geothermal electricity is the baseload characteristic of the energy resource. That is, geothermal electricity generators are able to deliver a stable level of power production over time. Yet for better or worse, this baseload characteristicalong with other notable factors such as size constraints and varying market segmentsreveals that interconnecting a geothermal plant to a transmission or distribution system poses unique challenges compared to other renewable energy technologies . A recent report by NREL, "Geothermal Power and Interconnection: The Economics of Getting to the Market," delves...

The Rodney Dangerfield of Cleantech

David Gold Wind turbines stand tall and mesmerize with their motion. Solar cells bask in the sparkling sun.  Meanwhile, hidden down in the dark dirty underworld, a compelling technology sits quietly and gets no respect.  Once installed it largely goes unseen and, it seems, it’s equally invisible in the world of clean technology press, venture funding and government R&D funding.  Yet this technology provides some of the most intriguing economic returns available for reducing a building’s net energy consumption and I would welcome the right opportunity to fund an exciting business in this category. What is this Rodney Dangerfield...

US Geothermal: Can A Reverse Split Heat Up This Stock?

by Debra Fiakas CFA US Geothermal (HTM:  NYSE) has been on our radar for some time.  Despite considerable accomplishment in terms of building electricity output from a portfolio of geothermal power installations, investors seem reluctant to embrace the company and its stock.  Earlier this week, US Geothermal management issued its usual quarterly update on its development work, this time detailing progress in expanding capacity and improving well performance on three of its geothermal installations.  Altogether an incremental 90 megawatts are under development, which would triple the current power generation capacity of 45 megawatts.  The company press release was met by...

Raser to Acquire Power Generation Technology Company

Raser Technologies (RZ) announced a definitive agreement to acquire Amp Resources ("Amp"), a private company with technologies focused on geothermal heat and power generation. The deal is for about $260 million in cash and stock. Raser will acquire Amp and its portfolio of technologies for heat transfer and renewable power generation. Raser will also assume ownership of multiple, long-term geothermal energy sales contracts with public and private utilities. These contracts call for an aggregate of $966 million from gross energy sales over 20 years. It is anticipated that these power generation projects will be developed and placed...

Ormat Breaks Ground on New Geothermal Power Plant

Ormat Technologies (ORA) broke ground today on the first geothermal electric generating plant to be built at Steamboat, Nevada since 1991. Known as the Galena Geothermal Project, when completed the plant will be added to the existing Steamboat geothermal plants and bring the total output from this geothermal complex to 44 megawatts of electricity through a process that extracts and re-injects the hot geothermal waters from the ground. One megawatt of electricity can supply energy up to approximately 1,000 typical homes in the area.

How Geothermal Heat Pumps Can Soar Like Solar

Tom Konrad CFA Geothermal Heat Pumps (GHP) are a niche market.  They shouldn’t be. Disclosure: Long WFIFF, short LXU puts (a net long position.) A Better Mousetrap? Ralph Waldo Emerson never said “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.”  The mousetrap that likely inspired the misquote was invented seven years after his death.  Unfortunately, many people take it literally.  GHPs have all the hallmarks of a better mousetrap: They do the job of heating and cooling a building more efficiently than any other option.  Despite...

Dispatchable Geothermal Plant May Shape Future Deals

Meg Cichon A fully dispatchable geothermal plant in Hawaii may influence power contracts in states like California that have a significant amount of energy but dwindling capacity with intermittent renewables. The geothermal industry has been struggling with the same barriers to development for years. It's a frustrating situation: while geothermal is a reliable, steady baseload form of renewable energy, its development expenses overshadow its obvious long-term benefits. Meanwhile, other intermittent renewable sources such as wind and solar are able to take advantage – and control – of state renewable portfolio standard (RPS) policies...

Is Ormat Technologies Misunderstood?

by Debra Fiakas CFA Olkaria III Geothermal Power Plant, Kenya Shares of geothermal power developer and utility Ormat Technologies (ORA:  NYSE) are trading at 24.7 times the consensus estimate for 2013.  That seems pricey on the surface, but the stock is down from a 52-week high of $22.24.  The stock gaps up and down with regularity, suggesting ORA is a battle ground for bulls and bears.  The fact that the 50-day moving average price continues to descend toward the longer-term 200-day average, hints that maybe the bears are...

The Efficiency Tango: A Deeper Look at Geothermal Heat Pump Efficiency

Tom Konrad CFA Geothermal heat pump diagram via Bigstock A couple weeks ago, I compared the efficiency of the two most advanced geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) recently launched by Waterfurnace Renewable Energy (TSX:WFI, OTC:WFIFF) and Climatemaster, as division of LSB Industries (NYSE:LXU).  Like most things in life, it turns out that heat pump efficiency is a lot more complicated than just comparing a couple numbers. Since I concluded that Waterfurnace’s 7  Series heat pumps were slightly more efficient than Climatemaster’s Trilogy 40 pumps, one of Climatemaster’s district managers pointed me...

Book Review: Investment Opportunities for a Low Carbon World (Geothermal + Efficiency)

Charles Morand Last Thursday, I reviewed two chapters from the recently published book "Investment Opportunities for a Low Carbon World"*. This post reviews two more.  Geothermal Energy Alexander Richter, Glitnir Bank (now Íslandsbanki) Geothermal is one of the most interesting forms of clean power generation there is. As noted by the author, the most convincing argument for geothermal electricity is the fact that it operates at capacity factors in the upper 90s. This makes it the only renewable technology suitable for baseload power with the exception of dam-based (i.e. large-scale) hydro. However, as...

Clean Energy Stocks Shopping List: Landfill Gas and Geothermal

Stocks seem expensive now, but that may not last.  Here are two Landfill Gas stocks and three Geothermal stocks I'm hoping to buy if the market falters. Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA This article continues my Clean Energy Stocks Shopping List series.  So far I've brought you: Five clean transport stocks, I looked at why it makes sense to wait for better prices, Five Energy Efficiency stocks (always my favorite sector), and Five Electric Transmission Stocks. This article takes a look at two of the most economical clean electricity generation technologies, landfill gas and geothermal. Kilowatts from...

Geothermal Heat Pumps: The Next Generation

Tom Konrad CFA The most efficient way to heat and cool a building just got more efficient. Geothermal heat pump diagram via Bigstock Climatemaster, a division of LSB Industries (NYSE:LXU), recently announced that their new Trilogy 40 geothermal heat pump (GHP) had been certified by the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) to exceed 40 Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) under ground loop conditions. EER is the ratio of effective cooling (heat removed) to the energy used, at maximal load, and is the standard...

New York to rely more on renewable power

New York will dramatically boost its reliance on renewable energy sources like wind and water over the next nine years under a policy approved by state regulators Wednesday. Clean energy advocates and state officials said the action by the state Public Service Commission places New York among the leaders nationwide in the development of renewable energy. It comes 20 months after Gov. George Pataki first called for a statewide standard that would encourage the production of environmentally friendly energy.

World Energy Solutions (XWES) and Ram Power (RPG.TO) Appear Promising

From Small Fries to Big Shots? Part 1 of 2 by Bill Paul Feel like rolling the dice on some small alternative energy stocks that appear to have big-time potential? Just remember: sometimes you roll snake eyes. First up: World Energy Solutions Inc. (Symbol: XWES), which currently trades on NASDAQ for $3 and change per share. Worcester, MA-based World Energy Solutions operates online exchanges for energy and green commodities, including the one administered by Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Inc. (RGGI), the regulatory scheme under which 10 Northeastern and Middle Atlantic states "cap" their power plants' emissions by requiring...
geothermal eruptions

Blindsided with Advance Warning

Holders of Ormat Technologies (ORA:  NYSE) shares may feel somewhat blindsided by the cessation of operations at the Puna geothermal power plant on the Hawaii Island.  Lava flowing from neighboring Kilauea volcano has overrun two of the geothermal wells as well as a warehouse and an electricity substation. Shareholders cannot claim they were not forewarned.  Ormat’s annual report for 2017 mentions the risk of volcanic eruptions seventeen times.  However, since no geothermal power company has ever experienced an interruption in operations due to a volcanic eruption, investors most likely overlooked the real dangers of locating a business on top of geological ‘hot spot.’ https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3a/Hawaii_Mount_Kilauea%27s_eruption_opens_new_lava_vent.webm Ormat is not the...