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....

The Pros Pick Two (Correction:Four) Offbeat Cleantech Stocks for 2014

Tom Konrad CFA Green 2014 image via BigStock Among the dozen stocks picked by my panel of professional green money managers for 2014, most followed three themes: Solar stocks, IT stocks, and income stocks.  Two didn’t, and they are included here. This Cash-Rich Water Company Could Produce a Big Dividend The first is a Japanese water utility, picked by Rafael Coven, the Managing Director at the Cleantech Group, and manager of the Cleantech index (^CTIUS) which underlies the Powershares Cleantech ETF (NYSE:PZD.) Coven likes...

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...

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. ...

Advanced biofuels pioneer Terrabon files for chapter 7 bankruptcy: One-off or trend?

Jim Lane Closely-watched green gasoline producer collapses as Waste Management (WM) declines next financing round. What does it mean for companies like Fulcrum Bioenergy, Enerkem, Agilyx, Agnion, Renmatix, Genomatica, and InEnTec? The Digest looks at the inside story. In Texas, Terrabon filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection; the company’s operations will cease and a trustee will be tasked with liquidating the company’s assets for the benefit of creditors. The complete Chapter 7 announcement is here. In a statement, Terrabon’s leadership said that company could not obtain additional corporate funding to finish developing and engineering its...

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...

Covanta on a Mission to Up-cycle Municipal Waste

Debra Fiakas, CFA The Waste Hierarchy, with energy from waste highlighted Covanta Energy (CVA:  NYSE) is a champion of renewable energy.  So much so that Covanta commissioned an elaborate sustainability report in 2010, detailing the company’s three-year track record in elevating municipal waste from the landfill to a higher order of use.  Compliant with standards set by the Global Reporting Initiative, the report is full of choice tidbits from Covanta’s municipal waste experience  -  at least through the year 2009. Let’s look at 2009, the last...

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...

Fulcrum Bioenergy’s $115M IPO: The 10-Minute Version

Jim Lane The first zero-cost feedstock biofuels company comes to the public markets with its IPO. Like to see how this “Back the the Futuresque” technology unlocks value by converting household garbage into transportation fuel? Here’s our 10-minute version of the IPO from Fulcrum Bioenergy. In California, Fulcrum Bioenergy has filed an S-1 registration statement for a proposed $115 million initial public offering. The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the offering have not yet been determined. The company proposes to list under the symbol FLCM. UBS Investment Bank...

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...

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...