The Problem With Proxy Ballots

Vote With Money Instead by Garvin Jabusch Many people assume that engagement with public companies through proxy voting and resolution filing is the best  if not only  way to see positive environmental, social, and governance outcomes from your investments. For me, this approach misses a fundamental point of market-based solutions: you make in investments in the most compelling ideas that reflect what you think is likely to grow, where you think the economy is headed, and yes, outcomes you support. That means using investments to favor firms that are already making innovative sustainable contributions to the global economy...

Investing With The Flow Battery

by Debra Fiakas CFA   The looming threat of global warming has nearly everyone  -  except perhaps those bickering with each other in the Whitehouse  -  scrambling for lower carbon energy sources.  Intermittancy remains a stumbling block for several of the lower-carbon renewable energy sources, particularly wind and solar energy systems.  To be a serious contributor to grid-connected power systems these energy sources need utility scale batteries that can store energy when the sun is down or winds have died away.  Unfortunately, with current technology the cost of such battery capacity increases the levelized cost of energy (LCOE)...

New Bio-Based Tacky Resins Launched With Amyris Technology

Jim Lane In France, Cray Valley has launched new tackifying resins produced with Amyris’ (AMRS) biologically derived Biofene branded farnesene. Tack is the measure of stickiness vital to everything from adhesives that need to hold things in place to inks that need to stay on the printed page. According to independent market research firm, MarketsandMarkets.com, the global tackifier market is projected to reach USD 3.56 billion by 2020. This poses a large opportunity for renewable farnesene-based tackifiers and Amyris believes it can access a large market share as its product applications within the space achieve commercial scale. Cray...

White House Reveals Its Own Fake News

Almost Everyone Believed It by Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA Press Secretary Sean Spicer reveals the joke. This morning, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer began an epic five-hour press conference with a one-word statement from President Donald Trump:  "Bazinga!" Spicer then launched into a detailed explanation of how the President (with help from many Republicans and conservative think-and-humor-tanks) had convinced the nation and the world how he did not believe in climate change.  In fact, efforts to roll back EPA regulations like the Clean Power...

Ten Clean Energy Stocks For 2017: Earnings Season

Tom Konrad Ph.D., CFA Earnings season began in earnest in February.  My Ten Clean Energy Stocks model portfolio gave back a little of its large January gains because a mix of good and bad earnings mostly offset each other.  One pick (Seaspan Preferred) gave back its large January gains.  Neither the original gain nor the loss were driven by news.  Instead, they seemed driven by investors changing expectations for global trade in an uncertain political environment.   For the year to March 17th, the portfolio and...

Trump to Health, Education, Small Business, and the Environment: You’re Fired!

Jim Lane  Good-bye ARPA-E, DOE, Loan Guarantee program, Energy Star, OPIC, USTDA, NEA, and the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program. Even Big Bird gets the guillotine. In Washington, the White House released its budget requests for 2018, a high-level, 62-page overview of President Trump’s strategy for “Making America Great Again”. Departmental impact In order of percentage impact, the departments are as follows. Defense: Up $52B or 8 percent Veterans Affairs: Up $4.4B or 6 percent  Homeland Security: Up $2.8B or 7 percent Small Business Administration: Down $43M or 5 percent Health & Human Services: Down $15.1B...

Avantium IPO “Many Times Oversubscribed:” What Buyers Are So Excited About

Jim Lane  In France, Avantium completed its highly-anticipated initial public offering, raising $109.5M (€103M) via the sale of 9,401,793 shares at $11.70 (€11) per share, giving the company a market capitalization reaches of $294M (€277M). Trading will begin on March 15th 2017 on Euronext Amsterdam and Euronext Bruxelles under the symbol AVTX. The Company anticipates to use €65-75 million of the net proceeds of the Offering for the funding of the Joint Venture, enabling it to construct and operate the reference plant for the commercialization of the YXY technology. The company’s first world-scale plant is a 50,000 tons...

Index Funds Are Climate Change Denial

Garvin Jabusch You probably know that index funds have become all the rage in investing over the past several years, as investors flock to their low fees and reject the gospel of active management. But you probably don’t know that investing in a broad-based index fund not only ignores rapid changes in the energy economy but also makes the investor complicit in climate change denial. And just as climate denial ignores the inherent risks of fossil fuels to environment, economy, and society, “set it and forget it” index investing ignores the inherent risks of fossil fuels and related stocks...

Rentech’s Wood Saw Hits a Knot

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last week Rentech, Inc. (RTK:  NYSE) revealed plans to idle its wood pellet production facility in Wawa, Ontario Canada.  To operate efficiently the plant requires additional repairs and upgrades beyond the replacement of conveyors that was completed in Fall 2016.  Beside the fact that the additional repairs were not included in the regular capital budget, Rentech management has apparently determined the expenditure is not economic given profits from Wawa.  When Rentech reports financial results for the fourth quarter ending December 2016, shareholders will be treated to an asset impairment charge for the Wawa facility....

Juhl Energy Diversifies

by Debra Fiakas CFA Renewable energy producer Juhl Wind filed to terminate registration of its common stock and cease filing financial reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission in September 2015, but the company was not withdrawing from the wind energy industry.  Instead Juhl expanded.  Now called Juhl Energy (JUHL:  OTC/PNK), the company’s corporate website boasts of its corporate headquarters in Minnesota powered exclusively by wind and solar energy.  The company also claims the successful development of over 350 megawatts of wind power generation capacity at 25 different wind projects.  Additionally, the company has dipped its corporate toe...

Can Panasonic Produce High Efficiency Solar Modules at Tesla’s Gigafactory 2 in 2017?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Yesterday, Tesla (NASD:TSLA) announced that it has no intention of using Silevo's technology at "Gigafactory 2," the former Silevo facility in Western New York, now owned by Tesla through its acquisition of SolarCity.  This makes some background on Panasonic (Whose technology Tesla plans to rely on instead) in this month's Solar Flare particularly relevant. Panasonic recently announced that the New York Facility would be operated under the name Panasonic Eco Solutions Solar New York America (PESSNYCA?) and that equipment will be installed and production will begin by summer 2017. In 2014 SolarCity acquired Silevo...

Will Trump Bump, Thump, Or Dump The Renewable Fuel Pump?

Jim Lane  “Trump Reiterates Support for Ethanol, RFS” is the major headline to come out of the National Ethanol Conference in San Diego, which is the Renewable Fuels Association’s annual conflab and as usual produced a flurry of studies, keynotes and statements on the viability and importance of US ethanol to everything from American jobs to advanced American manufacturing. The Trump headline came out of a letter sent to the delegates to the event by President Trump which itself is a hopeful sign of support. But did the President really offer support for the Renewable Fuel Standard?...

An In Depth Guide To Buying and Installing a Home Electric Vehicle Charging Station

Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA Most plug-in vehicles (both pure electric and plug-in hybrids) come with a "level 1" charging station which allows the vehicle to be charged from a standard household outlet.  If your vehicle is a plug-in hybrid with limited electric range, or you don't drive much, this is likely all you will need.  Otherwise, you will want a "level 2" charging station.  If you are a do-it-yourself-er and like to get into the nitty-gritty, you should read the whole article.  If you just want some quick advice about the best charging station for you, skip...

Alterra Power: Deep Geothermal

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last week, one of the leaders in a development consortium, Iceland’s largest privately owned energy generator HS Orka hf, announced the completion of a project to prove the merits of deeper geothermal wells.  The project in the Reykjanes Peninsula in southern Iceland reached 4,659 meters depth in January 2017, where temperatures measured 427 degrees Centigrade and fluid pressure was 340 bars.  By all accounts the project was successful, suggesting that deep wells could a cost effective approach to geothermal energy. The drilling program was mentioned in early December 2015 a recent post “Hot...

A Better Battery Or Bust

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last month BioSolar (BSRC:  OTC/PK) reported positive test results for its proprietary energy storage technology.  The company is developing an alternative anode material for lithium ion batteries using silicon-carbon materials.  BioSolar’s engineers are targeting dramatic improvement in anode performance and equally impressive reductions in cost.  If they are successful, it could mean longer lithium ion battery life, greater capacity and shorter charging time  -  the dreams of every manufacturer with an electronic product. Most lithium ion batteries rely on graphite for the battery anode.  However, silicon anodes could offer as much as ten...

Why We Can’t Take Our Eyes Off Gevo

Jim Lane  So, feel the bioeconomy backbeat and let the music flow. AY-YI YI-YA AAAY, Gevo (GEVO) just can’t stop dancin’. (Whoops, that was Becky G‘s Can’t Stop Dancin’, not Gevo’s.) But there’s something so cool in that technology that we can’t take our eyes off the company and its progress, even though looking at the balance sheet can feel like watching a car crash in slow motion. This week, Gevo executed a series of moves including signing up its first direct customer for hydrocarbons for the proposed expansion of its Luverne, Minnesota plant. The highlight was a...