Ormat: Cash Generation Justifies Earnings Multiple

Ormat Heat exchanger at GKW Landau. Geothermal water evaporates the carrier medium. Preheater and the evaporator. The steam line above connects to the turbine. Photo by Claus Ableiter via Wikimedia Commons by Debra Fiakas CFA Shares of geothermal power producer Ormat Technologies (ORA:  NYSE) are trading at 29.2 times the 2014 consensus estimate of $0.93 per share.  That multiple looks fair compared to growth expected at Ormat in the next year, but more dear against the company’s long-term growth prospects.  The stock has been flying off...

Is Fracking for Enhanced Geothermal Systems the Same as Fracking for Natural Gas?

Meg Cichon Advocates for both natural gas and geothermal are up in arms over whether fracking for enhanced geothermal systems should be scrutinized with the same parameters as natural gas. Ormat sucessfully used EGS technology to increase the capacity of its Desert Peak 2 plant in Nevada by 1.2MW. Photo Source: Ormat The U.S. geothermal industry recently scored a big win when its first enhanced geothermal system (EGS) project went online in April. ORMAT (NYSE:ORA) was able to stimulate a previously unproductive well at its Desert Peak project with EGS...

Ormat’s Enhanced Geothermal Project Now On Line

Meg Cichon   Ormat's 21.8 megawatt Desert Peak 2 plant in Nevada. Photo Source: Ormat A major challenge for the geothermal industry is reducing the risk of its exploration and drilling phase – there is a 40-60 percent chance that each $5-7 million well is ultimately deemed unproductive. But that statistic may soon change. In what many in the industry are calling a game-changer, the nation's first enhanced geothermal system (EGS) to supply electricity to the grid came online last week. ORMAT's Desert Peak 2 project is producing an...

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...

Last-Minute PTC Revision Sparks New Hope for Geothermal Stocks

Meg Cichon Geothermal well photo via Bigstock The renewable energy industry had quite a bit to celebrate this week as 2013 rang in a PTC extension that many had feared would never come to fruition. Though the extension to January 1, 2014 greatly benefits the wind industry, whose PTC was set to expire at the end of 2012, it also included a provision that could be huge for geothermal development. This provision states that projects under construction by January 1, 2014 would quality for the PTC, rather...

Improved Wind Energy Tax Credit Extension Passes with Fiscal Cliff Deal

Renewable Energy World Editors Offshore Wind Farm photo via Bigstock. On January 1, 2013, Congress passed legislation that included the long-sought extension of wind energy tax credits in a bill to avert the "fiscal cliff" that now moves to President Obama for his expected signature. The extension of the production tax credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is expected to save up to 37,000 jobs and create far more over time, and to revive business at nearly 500 manufacturing facilities across the country....

Geothermal Stocks Warming Up

Tom Konrad CFA Geothermal Plant at The Geysers.  Photo Source: Calpine (CPN) After a couple years of chilly investor sentiment, geothermal stocks are starting to warm up.  The sector has been so beaten down that the small exploration and production players seem to have lost what little following they had, and so recent good news has gone mostly unnoticed. Last week, industry leader Ormat Technologies Inc. (NYSE:ORA) set the stage by beating analyst expectations for both earnings and revenue per share in the third quarter, and announcing a deal to buy a...

Report: Solar and Geothermal Projects Have Over 10% Returns, But Finance Remains Difficult

Ryan Hubbell Despite healthy expected returns, finance-related challenges remain the largest barriers to renewable energy development, according to NREL's Renewable Energy Finance Tracking Initiative (REFTI). Two recently released reports on solar and geothermal technologies show greater than 10% expected returns for both developers and tax equity investors. Yet roughly half of both geothermal and solar respondents (350 in total) reported financial issues (project economics, PPAs, creditworthiness, and raising capital) as the largest barriers to development. In light of this, only 11%-13% of respondents reported abandoning their projects. Figure 1. Expected returns...

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...

Closing the Geothermal Loop

by Debra Fiakas CFA Calpine Plant at The Geysers.  Photo Source: Calpine In the article “Is Ormat Technologies Misunderstood?”, I outlined a few performance measurement issues, but left out of the story Ormat’s position in the relative position in the geothermal industry.  Naturally I received comments from readers about why I made no comparison of Ormat to Calpine Corporation (CPN:  NYSE), the largest U.S. generator of electrical power using geothermal sources.  On a go-forward basis Calpine shares are valued about the same as Ormat Technologies,...

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...

Geothermal in South America: Major Prospects for Development

Meg Cichon Geothermal well photo via Bigstock With climate threats and increased energy demand, South American countries are set to develop their vast geothermal potential. Will developers be able to acquire investment and favorable policy? If any part of the world should be concerned about the effects of climate change, it is South America. Despite contributing some of the lowest emissions globally, many of the countries in the region are As South America’s population is expected to rise 72% by 2035, the impact of climate...

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...

Waterfurnace 7 Series vs. Climatemaster Trilogy Geothermal Heat Pumps: The Best of the Best

UPDATE: I just looked into the 7 Series vs the Trilogy 40 in more detail here and came to a slightly different conclusion. Tom Konrad CFA Geothermal heat pump diagram via Bigstock Waterfurnace Renewable Energy (TSX:WFI, OTC:WFIFF) launched its new highly efficient 7 Series geothermal heat pumps (GHP) today.  The 7 Series commercial release beats Climatemaster’s (a division of LSB Industries (NYSE:LXU)) Trilogy 40 as the first commercially available GHP with a variable speed compressor.  The Trilogy 40 is currently available as part of a pilot program, and is expected to be commercially available...

Ram Power Negotiates for Higher Revenue

Tom Konrad CFA Geothermal well photo via Bigstock Ram Power (OTC:RAMPF, TSX:RPG) recently provided an update on progress at its flagship San Jacinto project in Nicaragua.  This was the project where cost overruns and construction delays last year sent the stock plummeting from over C$2 a share to around C$0.50 a share at the start of the year.  The decline has continued, despite the fact that the project seems back on track with the hiring of a new subcontractor, and the stock now trades...

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...