Crude Oil & Alt Energy: The Non-Relationship That Just Won’t Go Away

Charles Morand The relationship - or lack thereof - between oil prices and the performance of alt energy stocks has been a long-time interest of mine. I discussed it last in late March when I looked at correlations between the daily returns of alt energy and fossil energy ETFs. At the time, I found that only a weak relationship existed between the two and that if someone wanted to make a thematic investment play on Peak Oil, alt energy ETFs were not an ideal way to do so.  Seeing as the popular press and countless "experts"...

Is Composite Technology Corporation Still a Buy?

by Tom Konrad When I asked, Alternative Energy Stocks readers overwhelmingly wanted me to take another look at Composite Technology Corp. (OTC BB:CPTC.OB)  I've discussed CPTC several times over the last year, and consider it my most speculative pick in electricity transmission and distribution.  True to the nature of a speculative stock with no current earnings which is still trying to establish markets for its products, the stock price has been all over the map. The reader interest is doubtless due to the recent sharp decline since mid January.  I personally sold a portion of...

Renewable Energy: a Better Bribe

Bribing and Pressuring Fissile Regimes On July 25th, France offered to build a nuclear reactor for Libya to power a water desalinization plant.  Russia is delaying the delivery of  nuclear fuel for Iran's nearly completed Bushehr to help pressure them to comply with UN Security council demands for less secrecy.  South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, and the United States promised to provide 950 thousand tons of oil or equivalent aid to North Korea in return for permanently disabling all its nuclear facilities. I'm not going to argue about whether using energy aid is the best way to influence this...

Gamesa Blows Siemens a Valentine

by Debra Fiakas CFA Spain’s wind turbine manufacturer, GAMESA Corporation (GTQ1: Berlin; GAM: Madrid; GCTAF: OTC/PK), has been under pressure lately to spread profits over a hefty debt load.  The November post entitled The Wind in Spain is Mostly in GAMESA, noted the expanding product line and building customer base.  Backlog at the end of September 2015 was 3,034 megawatts, representing a 43% increases over backlog a year ago. Robust sales and higher profit margins have generated strong cash flows and GAMESA has been able to pay down debt.  During the first nine months of 2015...

FPL Group in Talks to Buy Constellation Energy Group

FPL Group Inc (FPL) is currently in the advanced stages of negotiations to acquire Constellation Energy Group (CEG). An FPL-Constellation merger would create a giant East Coast-based utility with a market capitalization, based on Tuesday's closing stock prices, of $26.97 billion - $16.93 billion for FPL and $10.04 billion for Constellation. Constellation Energy Group is based out of Baltimore Maryland and is the holding company for Baltimore Gas and Electric. They also have an extensive presence in the wholesale power supply and generation business. The Power Generation Division currently uses 4.6% alternative sources for power generation. ...

Must Renewable Energy Be Diversified?

Dana Blankenhorn Most renewable energy companies specialize. Solar companies do solar. Wind companies do wind. Geothermal companies do geothermal. Biomass companies do biomass. But a small Canadian merger challenges that assumption. Magma Energy (MGMXF.PK), a geothermal company, said it will spend about $100 million in stock to buy Plutonic Power (PUOPF.PK), which has wind and hydropower projects, and ambitions to get into solar. The combined companies will go by the name Alterra Power. Both companies are based in Vancouver. Size really does matter, crowed Magma CEO Ross Beatty on a conference call announcing...

Maxwell’s Misreported Revenue: More to Come

Tom Konrad CFA On March 7th, Maxwell Technologies (NASD:MXWL) announced problems with revenue timing.  Unlike Lime Energy (NASD:LIME), which I discussed in the previous part of this series, there was no hint of any fictitious revenue.  The disclosure was very specific that “The errors relate to the timing of recognition of revenue from sales to certain distributors.”  The announcement went on to discuss “arrangements … regarding the payment terms for sales” at these distributors.  As a result of the discovery, “certain employees were terminated and our Sr. Vice President of Sales and Marketing resigned.”  Maxwell is reviewing deficiencies in...

Why Geographic Diversification Smooths Wind Power

Tom Konrad CFA Canadian weather data shows the variability-smoothing potential of a robust continental electric grid. Intelligent skepticism is valuable to me as an investor when it makes me question my assumptions.  When I'm wrong, it makes me find out sooner (and hopefully get out of a bad trade sooner, or never get into it.)  When I'm right, I emerge with my thesis tested, which leads to the confidence needed to stick to a trade when the stock market voting machine moves against me in the short term, before it comes around in the longer term. ...

Dark Clouds Threaten German Clean Energy Ambitions

John Petersen During the fourteen years that I've lived in Switzerland, the Germans have been the world's staunchest supporters of green power and alternative energy. Their aggressive development of wind power was breathtaking, as was their warm embrace of photovoltaic power. Over the last few weeks, however, there has been an ominous change in the mainstream German media's tone as the political class finally comes to grips with the unpleasant reality that rooftop solar panels are worthless on short, grey winter days and "For weeks now, the 1.1 million solar power systems in Germany have generated almost no...

$3 Billion For Cleantech & Alt Energy

Charles Morand The DOE made public earlier today the amount of money that will awarded to clean power projects in lieu of the usual tax breaks: $3 billion. This will allow project proponents to receive a direct cash grant now instead of a Production Tax Credit or an Investment Tax Credit later on. The guidance document notes the following: "Section 1603 of the Act’s tax title, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act, appropriates funds for payments to persons who place in service specified energy property during 2009 or 2010 or after 2010 if construction began...

China Poised For Significant Expansion In Wind Power Generation

by William Gregozeski, CFA China is the world’s largest producer of electricity, surpassing the United States in 2011, with demand increasing alongside its strong, sustained growth in GDP.  Electricity generation in China has increased 9.6% annually, from 2005 to 2013, reaching 5,425.1TWh of electricity.  Coal-fired plants currently make up over two-thirds of power generation, which is partly the result of an abundance of coal in China.  Despite this growth, the country expects demand to continue to increase at a rapid pace, reaching 7.295TWh of demand in 2020 and 11,595TWh in 2040.    However, the growth in electricity...

Pattern Energy Investors Enjoy The Breeze

by Debra Fiakas CFA This week Pattern Energy Group’s (PEGI:  Nasdaq), the independent wind power generator, is scheduled to report sales and earnings for the quarter ending September 2015.  The company has cultivated a strong following among analysts for a company its size.  Nine estimate contributions have gone into a consensus estimate of $87.2 million in sales for the quarter, resulting in a net loss of a penny per share.  If achieved the sales hurdle would represent 22% growth over the same quarter last year.  A penny loss may not seem impressive, but it is substantially better than...

The Grid Impacts of Net Metering

Net metering describes the requirement that an electric utility buy electricity from any of its customers that generate their own electricity (usually with some sort of renewable energy, such as solar or wind) at the same price that they sell it to the customer.  That seems fair, doesn't it? The Utility Perspective It doesn't seem fair to the utility.  Utilities do more than just generate and sell electricity to customers.  They also are responsible for transmission (delivering the electricity) and reliability (making sure that the lights work when you flip the switch.) Taking just the reliability requirement, suppose that...

Investors Expect Rapid Growth At Pattern Energy Group

Tom Konrad CFA Pattern Energy's Gulf Wind Farm in Armstrong, Texas Disclosure: Long BEP. Pattern Energy Group (NASD:PEGI, TSX:PEG) completed a very successful Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the Nasdaq and Toronto stock exchanges on September 27th.  Not only did the shares price at $22, near the top of the expected range, but the underwriters exercised their full over allotment option to purchase 2.4 million shares in addition to the initial 16 million offered.  Total proceeds from the offering were $404.8 million.  Most of the proceeds went to Pattern Energy Group, LP (PEGLP) in consideration for a...

Broadwind Catches a Breeze

by Debra Fiakas CFA Two weeks ago wind tower builder Broadwind Energy (BWEN:  Nasdaq) announced $28 million in new orders.  Plans are to deliver all the towers within the year, giving a nice boost to the top-line for a company that recorded $170.3 million in sales over the last reported twelve months, well below the same period the year before.  In addition to wind towers, the company produces gearing mechanisms used in the oil, gas and mining industries.  Unfortunately, demand from these customers has been weak in recent periods. The company has had some difficulty in establishing...

Investing in German Wind Power

By Jeff Siegel When it comes to understanding the EU, I'm not the brightest star in the sky. And to be honest, after stumbling down a rabbit hole of proposals, directorates, and laws on the European Commission's website, I was even worse shape than before I started. The European Commission is the EU's executive body that represents the interests of the EU as a whole. And just yesterday it made a decision that will result in a huge boost for wind energy in Germany. Germany's 7 Gigawatts are Coming So as many in the renewable energy game know, following...
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