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 Technologies (ORA): The 500-Pound Gorilla of Geothermal Power

Tom Konrad, CFA  Ormat is the 500-pound gorilla of the geothermal power industry.  Should you buy the stock? I've owned Ormat Technologies (NYSE:ORA) stock off and on since I first began to invest seriously in clean energy companies.  At one of the first renewable energy conferences I attended five years ago as part of my quest to understand the renewable energy investing landscape, I encountered a representative of the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA).  Here's how I recall our conversation: Me: "What are a few of the leading geothermal power companies?" GEA Rep: "Ormat." Me: "Are they...

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...

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 Magma/Plutonic Merger

A Great Deal for Plutonic Shareholders, Not bad for Magma Tom Konrad CFA As a shareholder of Magma Energy Corp. (MGMXF.PK), I'm reading through the joint information circular on the proposed merger of Plutonic Power Corp (PUOPF.PK) and Magma to form "Alterra Power Corp." I'm not thrilled with the merger, although I plan to vote for it, now that it's arranged. Overall, I think the merged Alterra will be a stronger company than either company alone. Both companies are in capital intensive niche Renewable Energy industries, so the added scale and diversification of Alterra should better...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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,...

Three Top Geothermal E&P Companies

Tom Konrad CFA Last week, I was on a panel at the Inside Commodities Conference, and spent some time talking with Tyler Mordy, director of research at Hahn Investment.  He's a top-down analyst (and CFA Charter holder) who had recently grown enthusiastic about Alternative Energy in general because the sector is so beaten down.  We agreed that the most-beaten down sector of alternative is geothermal power stocks, which Tyler finds frustrating because Hahn works with managed ETF portfolios, and there simply is no geothermal ETF.  Nor is there likely to be, since one publicly traded company...

Can the Geothermal Industry Overcome Challenges to Raising Capital?

By Jane Pater Salmon, Navigant Consulting Geothermal energy presents baseload clean energy at a lower cost than many other renewable energy alternatives. Despite this compelling value proposition, long development horizons and the risks associated with exploration and drilling activities present hurdles to developing the country's rich geothermal potential. Financing projects that use conventional geothermal technology remains challenging in the uncertain economic environment. In the past year, geothermal project developers used alternative strategies to overcome three common challenges to geothermal project finance. While the challenges for raising capital at the project level are consistent with those faced in...

US Geothermal: A Knack For Hot Rocks

by Debra Fiakas CFA U.S. Geothermal (HTM:  AMEX) is scheduled to report third quarter 2013 financial results on November 15th, taking every day allowed to a public company to reveal the fruits and labors of a quarter.  There will be plenty to talk about in the conference call with analysts and investors.  USG closed a loan financing to support the first phase of its San Emidio geothermal power project in Nevada.  The loan valued at $30.7 million bears a fixed interest burden of 6.75% will replace a $25 million construction loan for the project and supply working capital...

Western states take lead in the drive for renewable energy

The political climate for many of the western states are slowly starting to change to see the need for conversion to renewable energy sources. These test installations for Solar, Geothermal, and Wind energy are now producing real power for these areas. The key for us is to find the vendors that supply these installations. As the funding increases in these test beds, our growth will increase. Here is a good article from the sfgate.com about the various western states initiatives. "California's goal is to produce 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2017. New Mexico...

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...

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...