Energy Storage: Q4 2012 Winners and Losers

John Petersen In late June I wrote a forward looking article that identified several companies in my energy storage and vehicle electrification group that I expected to perform well or perform poorly during the third quarter. Since short-term market changes are notoriously hard to predict, it’s worthwhile to look back and see where I got things right and where I got them wrong. So I’ll start today with a quick summary table and assess the relative accuracy of my Q3 calls, and then turn my attention to Q4, which is shaping up as a time of bright opportunity...

How PHEVs and EVs Will Sabotage America’s Drive For Energy Independence

John Petersen Yesterday I asked a frequent commenter and staunch electric vehicle advocate whether he ever questioned the ethics of building an EV that can save one owner 400 gallons of gas per year while using enough batteries to build ten Prius-class hybrids that could save their owners a combined total of 1,600 gallons of gas per year. I then spent an hour in stunned silence as the critical importance of that question crystallized in my mind. I didn't get a responsive answer from the commenter, but I did get one of those rare moments of clarity...

Flux Powers into Battery Management

by Debra Fiakas CFA   Proper electric and thermal management of advanced battery packs is imperative.  During operation, voltage and temperature differences in the battery cells can lead to electrical imbalances and decrease system performance.  A good battery management system can ensure strong power delivery and extend battery life.  Dozens of battery management systems have cropped up to fill this need for the lithium ion batteries used in new electric vehicles and alternative energy applications.  The highly populated field has not intimidated the newest competitor, Flux Power Holdings, Inc. (FLUX:  OTC/BB). Flux is a 2008 spin-off of...

Alice in EVland Part III; Cost Benefit Analysis For Dummies

John Petersen Sometimes I think bloggers like me are the real dummies. We spend so much time delving into the minutiae of a stock or sector that we manage to obscure the big picture with too much detail. I've certainly been guilty of that particular flaw over the last couple years and want to offer an apology to readers I've confused rather than enlightened. Yesterday a reader sent me a copy of a presentation that Exide Technologies (XIDE) used in its December 2010 Investor Meetings. The slide on page 6 of the presentation did a great job...

Battery Investing for Beginners, Part 3; Resetting The Cheap vs. Cool Baseline

9.30.09 Cheap vs Cool John Petersen I've been blogging about pure-play energy storage device manufacturers since July 2008. By mid-November I'd assembled a short list of thirteen pure-play public companies that accounted for almost 25% of the $30 billion global battery market. Frankly I was shocked to learn that major battery manufacturers like Exide (XIDE) and Enersys (ENS) that report billions in annual sales carried tiny market capitalizations when compared with far riskier technology development companies like Ener1 (HEV) and Valence Technology (VLNC) that would be little more than rounding errors on the big boys' financial statements....

A123’s Elegant Financing Transaction

John Petersen On Friday A123 Systems (AONE) announced a direct registered offering that's an elegant example of a well-structured financing transaction in a difficult market. A123 had a solid financial base before the offering and the stock was starting to turn a critical corner into an upward trend. The new financing should add momentum to that trend. The first stage deal terms are pretty straightforward. The investors will buy units consisting of one share of common stock and one common stock purchase warrant for $2.034 per unit, a 10% discount from the closing price of A123's common...

Bob Lutz Is Wrong About Tesla

By Jeff Siegel Does Bob Lutz like Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) or not? The bigwig car exec who probably knows more about the car industry than practically anyone else, has certainly tipped his hat to the electric car-maker and to Elon Musk, but when it comes to the stock, he's perpetually bearish. Of course, I've yet to find anyone who can really make sense of the stock. On a technical basis, it's pretty much always been valued at levels that never really coincided with the reality. But the Tesla story has never been about just the technicals. Tesla's valuation...

One, Two, Three Uses for A123’s New Batteries

Tom Konrad CFA  A123 Systems battery cell products (Source: A123) A123 Systems′ (NASD:AONE) announcement of a new battery technology able to operate at both extremely high and low temperatures has the  headline writers dreaming of cheaper electric cars. Electric cars may be dreamy, but they are just one application of the technology.  There are at least two more, with significant near term potential. 1. Is it really about electric vehicles (EVs)? Sure, it would be nice to be able to trim $600 of the price tag of a Tesla (NASD:TSLA) Model...

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...

Exide: Many Alliances, Fewer Results

Debra Fiakas Alliance photo via BigStock  Exide Technologies (XIDE:  Nasdaq) is one of the largest transportation and industrial battery suppliers in the U.S., vying for market share with Johnson Controls (JCI:  NYSE) and EnerSys (ENS:  NYSE) among others.  Batteries are a competitive business, even as the automotive sector has attempted a recovery from the 2008 free fall in new car sales.  Electric vehicle and renewable energy storage applications have helped expand addressable market.  However, for a conventional battery producer capturing a share of these...

Lux Research Dissects Lithium-ion Battery Mythology

John Petersen We all know that you can't have a cost-effective electric car without a cost-effective battery. We also know that a small but vocal hodgepodge of ideologues, activists, politicians and dreamers wants everyone to believe that rapid and stunning advances in lithium-ion batteries will finally make the dream a reality after a century of one abject failure after another. I frequently caution readers that it won't be anywhere near as easy as the proponents claim. In a new report titled "Searching for Innovations to Cut Li-ion Battery Costs" Lux Research did a yeoman's...

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)...

How Short-Term Supply Constraints Will Impact Booming HEV Markets

John Petersen For several weeks I've been writing about robust demand in Europe for a new class of HEVs that are usually referred to as "stop-start" or "micro hybrids." According to the EPA's website: "Stop/Start hybrids are not true hybrids since electricity from the battery is not used to propel the vehicle. However, the Stop/Start feature is an important, energy-saving building block used in hybrid vehicles. Stop/Start technology conserves energy by shutting off the gasoline engine when the vehicle is at rest, such as at a traffic light, and automatically re-starting it when the driver pushes...

Plug-in Vehicle Subsidies; Taxing Peter To Buy Paul’s New Car

John Petersen Industrial subsidies have been an important feature of the American economic landscape since the late 19th century for one simple reason – they work. After the steam locomotive proved its ability to quickly and cheaply move people and cargo long distances, the government launched a massive effort to span the country with steel rails and bring the benefits of a rapid, safe and reliable national transportation system to all its citizens. After electric lighting proved its merit, the rush was on to build a national infrastructure and bring the benefits to all. After the internal combustion...

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. ...

Altair Nanotechnologies Lithium Ion Battery Cells Exceed HEV Power Requirements of U.S. FreedomCAR

Altair Nanomaterials (ALTI) announced that its battery research and development team successfully completed a testing program for lithium ion battery cells containing Altairnano's nano-structured lithium titanate electrode materials. "The test results demonstrated that the performance of these lithium ion battery cells exceed the system-level power requirements set forth by the U.S. Council for Automotive Research FreedomCAR Energy Storage System Performance Goals for hybrid electric vehicle (HEVs), as well as those requirements published by major U.S. automakers," said Evan House, Ph.D., Program Director, Altairnano's Advanced Materials & Power Systems business unit. These batteries demonstrate a useable state-of-charge...
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