Maxwell Stakes its Claim in a $2.7 Billion Niche Market

John Petersen Last Wednesday Maxwell Technologies (MXWL) announced the launch of a new ultracapacitor product that insures reliable engine starting for commercial trucks and other heavy vehicles. According to the Energy Information Administration, the existing US fleet includes 4.2 million heavy-duty diesel trucks. All of these vehicles are subject to strict anti-idling laws and regulations that strain their battery systems and increase the risk that the engine won't be able to start when it needs to. While a dead battery is a pain for the average consumer, it can cause a world of problems for a commercial truck...

Lithium-ion Batteries and How Cheap Beat Cool in the Chevy Volt

Since November of last year, I’ve argued that cheap will beat cool when it comes to the commercialization of battery chemistries. As details on the design and construction of the Chevy Volt battery pack emerge and are publicized on sites like Green Car Congress and Popular Science, it’s clear that cheap Li-ion chemistry has already beaten cool Li-ion chemistry and many of the concerns I’ve expressed about using Li-ion batteries in cars have been considered and resolved by thoughtful automotive design engineers. It bodes well for the introduction of PHEVs as long as the tax incentives remain in place,...

Hydrogenics Awarded Contract by Gas Natural to Deliver Hydrogen Station to Spanish Wind Farm

Hydrogenics Corp (HYGS) announced that they have been awarded a contract for over EUR 500,000 to deliver a hydrogen station to Gas Natural SDG, a Spanish-based energy services multinational with approximately ten million customers in Spain, Latin America, Italy and France (www.gasnatural.com). Gas Natural will use a Hydrogenics' HySTAT(TM)-A Hydrogen Station at the Sotavento Galicia wind farm to produce up to 60 Nm3/hr of hydrogen. The hydrogen will be used to fuel an internal combustion engine generator, which in turn will supply electricity to the electric grid.

Is Stop-start Idle Elimination Crushing Vehicle Electrification?

John Petersen Since June of 2009 I've been a voice in the wilderness proclaiming that stop-start idle elimination will become a dominant automotive fuel efficiency technology by mid-decade and represent a tremendous business opportunity for established lead-acid battery manufacturers like Johnson Controls (JCI) and Exide Technologies (XIDE) and emerging energy storage technology developers like Maxwell Technologies (MXWL), Axion Power International (AXPW.OB) and A123 Systems (AONE). In the process I've suffered more than a little abuse, scorn, derision and ridicule from EVangelicals who think it makes sense to propel up to 5,300 pounds of metal at highway...

Vanadium Flow Battery Stocks: Barely A Dribble

by Debra Fiakas CFA   The previous post “Investing With The Flow Battery” introduced a series of articles on flow batteries for grid-scale energy storage.  Investors focused on renewable investments should at least consider the implications of storage requirements in evaluating renewable energy technologies even if storage developers are not considered portfolio-worthy.  Owners of grid-connected solar and wind power systems must design a network that can meet the highest peak load of the year even if a large part of the generating capacity sits idle for extended periods.  Storage technologies convert electrical power into chemical or mechanical energy...

When Will Polypore Payoff?

by Debra Fiakas CFA   Diagram of a battery with a polymer separator. Lithium ion batteries make it possible to recharge your smart phone, camera and a multitude of other have-to-have-with-us-every­-moment devices.  Yet the average person knows very little of the inner workings of something so important to our daily lives.  One little item in a battery is a highly specialized membrane that fits neatly between opposing electrodes  -  the positive and negative poles that make an electrical charge.  This membrane manages the charge and discharge process. ...

Exide Technologies: Anatomy of a Mistake

Tom Konrad CFA On June 1st, in the lead up to Exide Technologies’ (NASD:XIDE) first quarter earnings announcement, I made one of my better calls so far this year.  I wrote that the Exide stock was in the “bargain basement” and “ready to pop.” That day, XIDE traded in a range of $2.25 to $2.36, within spitting distance of its 52 week low of $2.22.  Four months later, the stock is up 45% at $3.25, despite two earnings misses in the meantime. My Mistake Unfortunately, I missed out on a good chunk of that gain.   A week...

Electro Energy Inc. Announces New Development Agreement With In-Q-Tel

Electro Energy Inc (EEEI) and In-Q-Tel, a private, not-for-profit venture group funded by the Central Intelligence Agency, today announced a new technology development agreement for advanced rechargeable bipolar lithium ion (BPLI) batteries. The resulting BPLI battery is intended to exhibit both high-specific energy and high-specific power, due to the efficiency of the EEEI bipolar cell and battery design. In previous work, EEEI has demonstrated BPLI cells with a specific energy greater than 200 Wh/kg and an energy density greater than 400 Wh/l. The development will be conducted at EEEI's battery manufacturing facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado. ...

Energy Storage: A Bloody Q3 is Creating a Great Buying Opportunity

John Petersen Tom Lehrer is frequently credited with a quip that perfectly summarizes my feeling about the financial markets in the third quarter, "Apart from that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?" During the quarter we were given box seats to classic political opera in two acts. Act One was set in Washington DC while Act Two moved to Europe so we could hear the same tortured songs of woe in a different language. We all know the opera has to end with the immensely popular "Kick the Can Chorus," but we suspended disbelief, bought into...

Batteries for HEVs, Batteries for EVs

I'm a longtime fan of electric vehicles (EVs) as well as Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs), in all their variations.  When it comes to investing, I think the best way to invest  in on the growth of electric transportation is batteries, partly because pure play battery companies exist (although my top battery pick, Electro Energy (EEEID) , has been one of my poorest performers, in a classic case of a cheaply priced company getting even cheaper. Given these interests, I was speaking to the President of Porous Power Technologies, a private battery components firm a couple weeks ago...

Large Scale Energy Storage Technologies Compared

Comparison of Energy Storage Technologies from Solar 2009 Tom Konrad, Ph.D. A reader and  CEO of a fuel cell startup sent me an email asking for a copy of my presentation comparing energy storage technologies which I referred to in last months article on Renewable Energy integration.  Since other readers may be interested as well, here it is: Economic Comparison of Electricity Storage Technologies (Power Point Show, 721 kb) Here is also the spreadsheet where I gathered most of the data for the graphs. (Excel spreadsheet 74 kb) Visual Comparisons These following graphs can also be found in the...

Two Stocks For Grid Storage – ZBB Energy and Axion Power

John Petersen On March 4, 2011 the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory published a comprehensive review of "Electrochemical Energy Storage Technologies for Green Grid" that is a must-read for serious investors who want to understand the technical and economic intricacies of the energy storage sector. It explains why storage is a key enabling technology for wind and solar power, the smart grid, efficient transportation and a legion of high-technology manufacturing and service enterprises that can't survive without reliable power. It also explains why energy storage is an investment mega-trend that will endure for decades. While I normally try to...

Epic Changes Are Coming in the Electric Power, Transportation and Energy Storage Sectors

John Petersen Epic is the only word I can use to describe an evolving tragedy that killed tens of thousands of people, inflicted hundreds of billions in property damage, destroyed 3.5% of Japan's base-load power generating capacity in a heartbeat and will cause recurring aftershocks in the global electric power, transportation and energy storage sectors for decades. While I'd love to believe the worst is behind us, I fear the times of trouble have just begun. Since it's clear that Japan will have to turn inward and serve the urgent needs of its own population first, the...

A123 Systems vs. BYD and Other Irrational Battery Investments

John Petersen Mother always taught me that if you can't say something nice, it's usually better to say nothing. While regular readers might question my ability to follow Mom's advice, this is an article I had really hoped somebody else would write. The quick summary is that while the shares of A123 Systems (AONE) may be a reasonable investment at current prices, the shares of BYD Co. Ltd. (BYDDF.PK) are an irrational value proposition, the shares of Ener1 (HEV) are even worse, and the shares of Valence Technologies (VLNC) are beyond understanding. Since many readers find detailed tables...

A123’s Planned IPO Moves to the Front Burner

John Petersen   After six months of regulatory silence and $100 million in new funding, A123 Systems amended the SEC registration statement for its proposed IPO on June 23rd. While this latest filing may simply be A123's way demonstrating its ability to raise matching funds for a scaled back ATVM loan request of $1 billion and pending applications for $438 million in direct Federal grants, my sense is that the proposed IPO will probably come to market in early September. Since ATVM loans will require 20% cost sharing and direct Federal grants will require 50% cost...

Arotech Zinc-Air Battery Named One of the US Army’s ‘Great Inventions of the Year’

Arotech Corporation (ARTX) announced today that the BA-8180 Zinc Air battery developed by Arotech's Battery and Power Systems Division - has been designated as one of the "Greatest Army Inventions" of the past year. The ten winning teams will be recognized June 23 by the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command. Arotech is primarily a defense contractor. However, they are a lead contractor for the Military looking at Alternative Energy resources.
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