ABB Group – A Cleantech Company?

Tom Konrad CFA Power and automation giant ABB, Ltd. (NYSE:ABB) was named Cleantech Corporation of the Year at the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco. The company has been focused on acquiring start ups in the cleantech space for the last couple of years, with two significant ones in 2010: Ventyx, a provider of IT systems to utilities, and Baldor Electric, the premier supplier of high-efficiency motors in the US. I very much like ABB's approach to cleantech. I'd even written about Baldor as a good way to invest in energy efficiency earlier in 2010 just a couple months before...

Understanding the Smart Grid

By Harris Roen The modernization of the electric grid is an exciting investment opportunity that promises to be one of the biggest energy investment stories of the early 21st century. Smart Grid systems will provide large growth opportunities for many companies around the globe. This is being accomplished through a combination of updating existing technologies along with the creation of new systems aimed at improving the quality of the electric grid. By understanding how the dream of a smart grid will become a reality, an informed investor will be in a very good position to...

2010: The Year of the Strong Grid? Part V: Hubbell Inc.

Tom Konrad, CFA Hubbell Inc. (HUB-B) is a strong grid stock that also has strong financials, signaled by a recent dividend increase. I came across Hubbell Inc. (HUB-B) when researching General Cable (BGC) for my recent article on the company.  Just one more example of when you start researching a sector, (in this case electrical transmission and distribution, or "strong grid") you never know what new companies you may find. Hubbell is a diversified electrical supplier, serving electric utility, residential, commercial, and industrial markets worldwide.  About a quarter (26%) of its revenue comes from the "Power...

Smart Grid Stocks For The Obama Stimulus Package

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how a new Obama administration would renew with Keynesianism (i.e. large-scale counter-cyclical infrastructure spending) but with a green twist to: (a) get the US economy out of its funk and (b) propel America into the 21st Century by providing a massive push for its green industries. I discussed certain rail stocks and electric grid stocks that could benefit as a result. By-and-large, I've been right on both counts about the President-elect's strategy (i.e. Keynesian and green), but I did forget to mention an important part of the plan's focus:...

Discom-fort: Barriers to Renewables in India

by Ishaan Goel Energy is crucial to India’s policy agenda. Millions of households are yet to gain reliable access to electricity, hampering their potential for economic growth. Severe pollution issues create widespread health problems. Renewables are prioritized as viable solutions across the political spectrum, with their low costs and ease of installation in remote regions. The current administration has ambitious plans for renewable energy (RE), targeting an almost 4x increase in installed capacity to 450 GW by 2030 and introducing a spate of tax and investment reforms. At the heart of the Indian power supply chain lie distribution companies (discoms). The...
demand charge impacts on DC Fast Charger costs

EV Fast Charging Disincentives

by Daryl Roberts DC Fast Chargers (DCFCs) and Tesla superchargers are a key element in electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure that could facilitate wider adoption of EVs by enabling recharging that comes to resemble the time currently taken for gas station stops, and thereby reducing “range anxiety” for drivers. However, the pricing structure for electrical costs incurred at commercial DC fast chargers is currently prohibitive, because it includes a special fee called a “demand charge”. Rate design in a number of states includes this additional charge, based on the “peak rate” on electric power consumed in kW. In New York,...

My Portfolio’s Latest Casualty And Addition

The Casualty Last Monday, I discussed how I had recently reviewed Railpower Tech with a view to potentially adding to my position on grounds that: (a) the company had a fair amount of cash in the bank, which reduced the need to go to capital markets for financing for a while; and (b) that it was getting badly battered by general market conditions, potentially offering an attractive entry point. Although my portfolio has taken a beating in recent weeks, I remain ready to take small positions in stocks if I feel they are being unfairly bashed, including in...

General Electric: Seeking to Define the Smart Grid

By Harris Roen General Electric (GE) is a standout company that supplies products and services in the alternative energy and environmental fields. GE also has a robust stake in smart grid technology; its energy division alone has products that include power delivery, smart metering, charging systems, and power sensing. According to Cleantech, GE is a player in 5 of the 6 critical business areas affecting smart grid development.   As part of their commitment to shape the future of the smart grid, GE committed $200 million for entrepreneurs, students and other innovators as a “call to action” for...

EESAT And Energy Storage Opportunities On The Smart Grid

John Petersen Last week I appeared as a luncheon speaker at EESAT 2009, a biennial international technical conference sponsored by the DOE, Sandia National Laboratories and the Electricity Storage Association that focuses on storage technologies for utility applications. The conference included dozens of high-level technical presentations from storage technology developers and was far and away the best-organized event I've ever attended. The only notable absence was a large contingent of buyers, which left some participants wondering whether they were preaching to the choir. Nevertheless, I was encouraged by rapid growth in the number and size of utility-scale demonstration...

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...

The Best Peak Oil Investments Meet the Smart Grid: Telvent GIT SA (TLVT)

Tom Konrad CFA I'm bullish on Smart Transportation, which is my term for applying information technology to make our transportation system more efficient.  The majority of my list of Smart Transportation Stocks focus on GPS navigation.  I've been a fan of GPS navigation ever since 2001, when I first experienced the relief using one while driving in an unfamiliar city.  But I'm much less enthusiastic about GPS Navigation stocks: I feel the industry is too competitive, which is great for the consumer, but not so great for the shareholder.  Hence, I'm drawn to the three Smart...

Feel-Good Government Grants Leading Cleantech Astray

David Gold Grants for smart grid projects. Grants for battery manufacturing lines. Loan guarantees for renewable energy project development. Grants to private companies for energy efficiency projects. And with each it seems that the cleantech world cheers. Yet for all our desire to create sustainability in our consumption and use of energy, this model of getting us there is not only unsustainable but is of questionable value. I want to emphasize that I am speaking about government grants to the private sector where the government is not the end customer and...

Moving Microgrids Beyond R&D

by Joe McCabe Where is the money in microgrids? My goal at this years Intersolar event was to try and answer this question; to figure out the value proposition of microgrids as they relate to distributed generation, storage, renewable energy and photovoltaics.  A microgrid is an electrical supply and use system that can operate autonomously. Although all microgrids are small relative to the electric grid as a whole, the huge size of the grid leaves a broad range of what can count as “micro.”  Microgrids can be as small as a single building, but range on...

2010: The Year of the Strong Grid? Part II

The Strongest Strong Grid Stocks Tom Konrad, CFA A comparison of the financial strength of transmission (or "Strong Grid") companies. In Part I of this article I made the case that transmission stocks, or "Strong Grid" might be a clean energy sector that takes off in 2010, as Smart Grid stocks and Battery stocks did in 2009.  If the sector does take off, the rising tide will probably float all boats, but if it doesn't, it will probably be better to be in the strongest such companies, because, as in 2009, the harsh financial climate will probably mean that...

Solar Inverter Shakeout: 3 Survivors, 2 Buyers, a Loser and a Wildcard

Tom Konrad CFA Inverter for a solar array. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Solar inverter stocks are looking cheap, but until the weaker players are forced out, they are likely to get cheaper. The major publicly traded solar inverter companies are Power-One (NASD:PWER), Satcon (NASD:SATC), SMA Solar (OTC:SMTGF), Siemens (NYSE:SI), Advanced Energy Industries (NASD:AEIS), Schneider Electric (OTC:SBGSF) and upstart Enphase Energy (NASD:ENPH).  Over the  last year the industry has faced eroding margins and an increasingly competitive environment.  This parallels the problems of solar manufacturers: the industry has too much...

The War On Net Metering

by Paula Mints Net metering and interconnection are rights afforded distributed generation (DG) residential and commercial solar system owners through the U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005. The act required publically owned utilities to offer net metering and left the various policies up to the states to enact. In 2004, before that energy policy was enacted, 39 states had net metering and interconnection standards and policies. At the beginning of 2016, 43 U.S. states and three territories had net metering policies, and four states had policies similar to net metering that the Database of State Incentives for Renewables...
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