Carbon Negative Impacts from Biomass Conversion

By Andrew Grant, Biomass Power Projects, LLC, Lee Enterprises Consulting Canada, New England, and California all have Carbon Credit programs to achieve GHG reduction goals. Several forms of biomass diversion from landfills, farms, and other biomass – dependent GHG sources are already in operation to support significant GHG reductions. Examples of GHG reductions are given, and the carbon impact of the different commercially available biomass to GHG reduction processes are described. The three groups of commercially guaranteed biomass conversion processes are: 1. Power Generation, Steam Generation, and CHP: from the combustion of biomass wastes. This industry, with about 100...

N-Viro: Sludge Into Fuel

by Debra Fiakas CFA After ethanol producers figured out that pricey feedstock could rapidly erode profits, the renewable energy industry began casting about for alternative feedstock.  What is cheaper than ‘free?’  Waste of all kinds  -  sewage, mixed municipal trash, animal manure, food and agriculture waste, wood pulp, exhaust gases, steam  -  can be virtually free.  Sometimes waste generators are even willing to pay a fee to anyone willing to accept their nasty stuff. N-Viro International (NVIC:  OTC/PK) is one of those renewable fuel producers with its arms wide open.  The company has lengthy experience in treating...

Blue Sphere To Start Biogas Commercial Operations

by Debra Fiakas CFA The Blue Sphere, Inc. (BLSP:  OTC/QB), stock price has weakened in recent months as investors registered their apparent frustration with fundamental developments.  Proposed acquisitions of operating biogas power plants in Italy have taken much longer than expected and majority interest in planned biogas plants in the U.S. were sold into joint venture arrangements rather than held as 100% equity positions.  Despite these developments, Blue Sphere management has doggedly moved forward on all fronts and there has been measurable progress toward first revenue. Commercial operation dates have been set for...

Covanta: Comfort In An Ample Dividend

by Debra Fiakas CFA In late August 2015, volatility turned its frightening countenance on the U.S. equity market.  The volatility measure for the S&P 500 Index (VIX) spiked to a peak of 53.29 during trading on August 24th.  While things have calmed down since, volatility remains well above the 20.00 level where many investors consider it too precarious to take new equity positions.  At time like these it makes sense to seek the warm comfort of an ample dividend.  Those regular cash rewards can make it worthwhile waiting for stock prices to calm down. Within...

Blue Sphere’s Eyes On The Horizon

by Debra Fiakas CFA Renewable energy companies have to worry about flagging commodity prices that make it even more difficult to prove the competitive potential of alternative fuels, as well as possible disruption in the capital markets and valuation multiples which are concerns of all public companies. Shlomi Palas, the CEO of  Blue Sphere, Inc. (BLSP:  OTC/QB), a microcap in the Crystal Equity Research coverage group, is not dissuaded.  He continues to push forward with the company’s strategy to own and operate biofuel-powered, grid-connected generation facilities.  Blue Sphere has two food-waste-to-energy plants under construction...

Blue Sphere’s First Revenue

by Debra Fiakas CFA Blue Sphere (BLSP:  OTC) is continuing to make progress in its strategic plans to build and operate biogas power plants.  The company is initially targeting the largely untapped supply of organic wastes from food processing and table to meet growing demand for renewable, no– or low-carbon emission energy sources.  A year ago, the company’s portfolio consisted of a string of projects all in the planning stage.  Management has pushed two food waste-to-energy projects in the U.S.to the construction stage and closed on the first four acquisitions of fully operational agriculture-waste biogas power plants in...

The Light On Blue Sphere’s Horizon

by Debra Fiakas CFA The stakes were high at the beginning of its fiscal year 2015, as Blue Sphere, Inc. (BLSP:  OTC/QB), a developer of waste-to-energy projects, was facing deadlines to fulfill its contractual commitments to the sellers of its two ‘front burner’ waste-to-energy projects in North Carolina and Rhode Island.  In the four intervening months it appears Blue Sphere has won all bets. Blue Sphere had purchased a biogas project from original owner Orbit Energy and had received an equipment financing commitment from Caterpillar.  Unfortunately, an equity financing source withdrew its interest as...

MagneGas’ Industrial Plasma

by Debra Fiakas CFA Alternative chemicals developer MagneGas Corporation (MNGA:  Nasdaq) is posting another guard at the gate.  The company recently filed a patent application to protect new enhancements of its plasma arc technology and gasification system.  Plasma is any gas taken to a whole new phase through extremely high temperatures.  For perspective the sun is actually a very large ball of plasma.  Here on Earth MagneGas is using its proprietary system to gasify carbon-rich liquids such as municipal wastewater to produce hydrogen gas for industrial applications and vehicle fuel.  Many investors have probably heard about...

In the Middle(sex) of the Organics-to-Power Sector

by Debra Fiakas CFA A post in June featured Middlesex Water Company (MSEX: Nasdaq) as an unlikely player in the waste-to-energy game.  However, Middlesex has proven a capable project integrator, capitalizing on its collective knowledge of process engineering to launch a turnkey alternative energy service.  A successful waste-to-energy project in the Village of Ridgewood, New Jersey has placed Middlesex squarely in the middle of the organics-to-power sector.  Ridgewood taps its waste water for methane to power an electric generator.  The power is used at the Ridgewood Water Pollution Control Plant, making the plant self-sufficient for electricity. The...

Waste Management: Biogas with a Dividend

by Debra Fiakas CFA The biogas industry has attracted a number of new entrants.  Blue Sphere (BLSP:  OTCQB) described in the recent post “Turning Potato Peels to Power” and RDX Technologies (RDX: TO, described here) are both newcomers to the biogas power generation.  Both companies show much promise and will likely grow dramatically over the next few years.  Shareholders are counting on the stock prices to follow. Investors who are less interested in the big growth play and more interested in stability and current income are not left out.  There are larger, more...

Turning Potato Peels To Power

by Debra Fiakas CFA The series on waste-to-energy continues with Blue Sphere, Inc. (BLSP:  OTC/QB), a relatively new entrant to the biogas power generation market.  Blue Sphere is focused on converting principally food waste to power using anaerobic digestion technology.  In May 2014, Blue Sphere started construction on a bio-digester and power generation facility near Charlotte, North Carolina, that will turn potato peelings and apple cores into 5.2 megawatts of power.  Duke Energy (DUK:  NYSE) has been lined up to buy the power when the plant goes operational sometime before the end of 2015. Management expects to...

Casella Back In The Dumps, But Ready To Pick Up?

by Debra Fiakas CFA Casella Plants Flag in Waste-to-Energy The solid waste collection and disposal industry has been transformed by the building enthusiasm for waste recycling.  Founded in 1975, Casella Waste Systems (CWST:  Nasdaq) has been around to experience a lot of change and has been quick to get on the bandwagon.  The company is a self-described recycler and resource manager as well as a solid waste collector. Granted the company is still heavily focused on its conventional solid waste business.  Casella management has outlined a four-point plan to grow the company and increase profits.  Top on...

Covanta: The Big Player In Waste-to-Energy

by Debra Fiakas CFA Covanta Holding Corp. (CVA:  NYSE) is among the largest waste-to-energy developers and producers in the U.S.  The company couples waste collection services for local government and industry with power generation for local municipal or commercial customers.  Covanta’s waste handling and ‘mass-burn’ process also allows for metal recovery and sales.  The company operates forty-six waste-to-energy facilities mostly in North America supported by eighteen waste transfer stations and four ash landfills.  Covanta is a big player in the waste-to-energy industry, but what kind of yield does it's stock offer investors? Covanta’s management team...

RDX: Waste Water-to-Energy

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last week RDX Technologies, Inc. (RGDEF:  OTCQX or RDX: TSXV) announced an agreement to supply renewable diesel to the Tyson Farms’ Temperanceville Facility in Virginia.  The Energy Division of RDX sells three grades of methyl ester fuels that can be used in boilers and small generators.  RDX did not disclose the value or size of the Tyson Farms contract.  However, the contract apparently is for one year with a second year option. RDX operates renewable fuel plants in Missouri and California.  Waste streams are aggregated at the two plants by truck and processed...

Utility Expects Growth From Green Consulting

by Debra Fiakas CFA Middlesex Water Company (MSEX: Nasdaq) has been providing the good people of New Jersey and Delaware with water services for a long time.  Its longevity in the marketplace is probably one of the reasons, Middlesex can claim a string of successive revenue and earnings increases.  The company achieved a net profit of $16.4 million on $115 million in total sales in the most recently reported twelve months.  More importantly, Middlesex turned 27.7% of those sales into operating cash flow, an achievement that helps support the company’s investment plans and dividend. Like any other water...

The Muscle Car Of Energy Efficiency

Tom Konrad CFA Disclosure: I am long TSX:PRI / PENGF. The poster child of energy efficiency has long been changing a light bulb.  First, it was swapping out an incandescent for a compact fluorescent, now the swap is to an LED.  Changing a light bulb is a small step that anyone can take, and it’s so cost effective that it can pay for itself in months if the bulb is used frequently. This is a good example of household energy efficiency measures: a small action requiring a limited investment that anyone can take that pays back quickly....