Will Higher Heat Content in Trash Help Waste-to-Energy Stocks?

Tom Konrad CFA The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently published an article describing an increase in the energy content of municipal solid waste (MSW).  The reason for this increase is an increase in the percentage of waste from “non-biogenic” sources (i.e. plastics) as compared to biogenic sources (paper, cardboard, wood, food and yard waste, etc.)  Biogenic waste has an average heat content of 11 MMBtu/ton, as compared to 23 MMBtu/ton for non-biogenic waste. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, derived from U.S. Enivoronmental Protection Agency, Municipal Solid Waste data. ...

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...

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...

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...

The X Factor in Covanta’s Capital Budget

Debra Fiakas, CFA The Waste Hierarchy, with energy from waste highlighted In the last post “Covanta on a Mission to Up-cycle Municipal Waste," I noted that even a group of experts advising Covanta Holding (CVA:  NYSE), has some concerns about the wisdom of channeling municipal waste through mass burn facilities like those of Covanta.  Recycling and reuse are considered even higher uses for municipal waste that result in net lower toxic emissions and net higher energy savings or energy generation.  For example, a report published by...

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...

Another Look at the Algonquin Power Income Fund

Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA The Algonquin Power Income Fund (AGQNF.PK) has been one of my star performers in an excellent year.  Is it still a good investment at these prices?  Since I recommended the Algonquin Power Income Fund (AGQNF.PK/APF-UN.TO) in January as a renewable energy income stock for 2009, the company is up 69%, in addition to the C$0.02 monthly dividend, worth approximately another 8% through August on the US$1.82 purchase price, making it the second-best performing of my ten picks (after Cree, Inc (CREE).)  However, since the major basis for my recommendation at the time was the...

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...

Covanta Turns Waste into Cash

Debra Fiakas, CFA The Waste Hierarchy, with energy from waste highlighted The self-styled “energy-from-waste” company Covanta Holding (CVA:  NYSE) turns municipal waste into electricity and recycled metals.  The operations also turned 21.9% of its revenue into cash in 2011.  We note that the conversation ratio has declined over the last three years from 28.7% in 2009 and 27.2% in 2010, but we are still impressed with any cash conversion rate over 20%. The company operates forty-one mass-burn facilities around the U.S. that burn all manner...

Ten Solid Clean Energy Companies to Buy on the Cheap: #3 Waste Management, Inc....

In large part, the transition to clean energy will involve using our resources much more efficiently than we do now.  One large potential feedstock for biofuels (and arguably the only one which is truly sustainable) is our trash.  As the world economy grows, and the available stock of natural resources diminishes, society will have no choice but to use what we have more efficiently and throw less of it away. In addition to the now familiar recycling of Aluminum, glass, cardboard, paper, and plastic, yard and construction waste will find its way to cellulosic ethanol plants, and used cooking...

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...

Global Resource Corporation: Needed Technology; Unanswered Questions About Management

On July 3, The Energy Blog told us about a process of turning old tires back into valuable oil and gasses.  Given the problems of Peak Oil and plastic waste which can mimic almost anything in the environment, I was intrigued, and I had the feeling that other watchers of the alternative energy space would be, too.  After a quick review to make sure that the technology was based on sound science (I believe it is, although that is no guarantee that it can be commercialized), and a search for information about their governance policies and a board list...

Focus On Clean Power Income Trusts

Last week, Tom brought you a piece on the Algonquin Power Income Fund (AGQNF.PK), in which he opined that shift in investor attention away from capital gains toward yield might eventually provide a catalyst for the prices of yield-focused securities such as income trusts to rise. So-called utility trusts, or income trusts where the underlying corporation is engaged in utility activities such as power generation, are a common feature of the Canadian income trust sector (the mother of all income trust sectors). A sub-set of utility trusts is the clean power utility trust, where the power generation...

China Recycling Energy: Profiting From Murky Air, But How Much?

by Debra Fiakas CFA   Shanghai at sunset as the sun fades into the smog. Photo source: Suicup China’s industrial pollution problems are mounting.  Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) increased by 3% in 2011, reaching an all-time high of 34 billion tons.  China contributed a whopping 29% of that carbon dioxide  -  nearly twice that of the second worst polluter, the U.S., which spit out 5.4 million tons or 16% of the total CO2 emissions.  Policy makers in China have been slow to move against industrial polluters...

WSTE Not, Want Not

Tom Konrad CFA A truly sustainable economy would produce no waste: everything would be recycled or reused for some productive purpose.  We're a long way from that ideal today, but the rising cost of commodities makes recovering used material through recycling increasingly economic. Further, the rising cost of energy makes converting municipal and industrial waste into advanced biofuels or combusting it to produce electricity an increasingly economic option. Attempting to guess which advanced biofuel technology will be successful strikes me as a fool's errand.  Why not instead invest in the owners of the feedstock?  While I don't...
MagneGas treatment installation

Plasma Arcs For Pig Waste

This week MagneGas (MNGA:  NASDAQ) announced new work completed toward plans to enter the commercial pork sector with a proprietary manure processing and disposal solution.  Management held a meeting with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to discuss MagneGas technology to treat agriculture waste and the state’s required environmental permit protocols.  MagneGas aims to sell to pig farmers equipment based on its innovations. The company wants to help pig farmers address environmental problems cause by manure accumulation with its proprietary waste sterilization process.  Handling pig waste using conventional methods can be costly, but failure to...