Aspire Week in Review – Week Ended April 10, 2009

Apr 13, 2009
Author: Administrator

TheInternational Energy Agency said on Friday that it has lowered its estimate forglobal oil demand in 2009 by a daily 1 million barrels to 83.4 million barrelsa day - down 2.8% from last year. In OECD countries, it has forecast a 4.9%decline on a Y/Y basis to 45.2 million barrels a day. The downbeat expectationsfor oil demand continue to weigh on oil prices, which has had a correspondinglynegative impact on alternative energy stocks.

On the flipside, a recent catalyst for the solar and wind energy sector, has been China'srecent overtures to commit more resources and support to alternative energy. Itis targeting a boost in the usage of renewable energy to 10% of total energyconsumption by 2010 from 7.5% in 2005. Solar power is expected to increase from7MW to 30,000MW under those conditions.

In addition,China's announced commitment to becoming a leading in the EV market placeshould drive energy storage and the EV/PHEV markets. For three months in a row,China's auto sales have outpaced the US, and it is conventional wisdom thatChina is going to fast overtake the US as the largest vehicle market in theworld.

And Japan'sgovernment is expected to unveil a ¥15.4 trillion ($154 billion) stimuluspackage for its economy, which will feature investment into solar, batteries,EVs and energy efficiency.

This weekbiofuels, geothermal, midstream solar, solar equipment/systems, and wind energystocks generally kept up with, or outperformed the indices.

  • Biofuels Group - closed up 4% on the week, down 14% year-to-date;
  • Energy Management Group - closed down 6% on the week, up 12% year-to-date;
  • Geothermal Group - closed up 3% on the week, up 17% year-to-date;
  • Upstream Solar Group - closed flat on the week, down 5% year-to-date;
  • Midstream Solar Group - closed up 3% on the week, down 7% year-to-date;
  • Downstream Solar & Developers Group - closed down 3% on the week, down 11% year-to-date;
  • Solar Equipment/Systems Group - closed up 3% on the week, up 25% year-to-date;
  • Water Treatment & Infrastructure Group - closed flat on the week, down 11% year-to-date;
  • Wind Energy Group - closed up 5% on the week, up 3% year-date;
  • DJIA - flat on the week, down 7.8% year-to-date;
  • Nasdaq - up 3% on the week, up 4.6% year-to-date;
  • S&P 500 - up 2% on the week, down 5.1% year-to-date;



Biofuel and Biomass

Datagro reportsthat the EU may have a deficit of 5 to 8 billion liters of ethanol in 2020,based on targets of 10% blending into gasoline.

In the US,ethanol production fell in January, with 3.11 billion liters being produced,down 4% over the previous month. On a Y/Y basis, ethanol production was up23.6% in January.

The USDAreported that US corn inventories will be 2.3% less than forecast a month agodue to increasing demand for animal feed, with unsold supplies at 1.7 billionbushels, down from 1.74 billion forecast last month. About 3.7 billion bushelswill be used to make ethanol, up from about 3.026 billion that were used a yearago.

Flex FuelMandates in the US?

Federal DeputyEliot Engel presented a bill to the US Congress proposing that half of all carsmanufactured or sold in the US be flex fuel by 2012, and that by 2015 sales offlex fuel should represent 80% of the market.

Going, Going.....

It shouldn'tsurprise anyone, but Aventine Renewable (NYSE:AVR) has filed for Chapter 11protection.

Tate & Lyleis cutting more than half its work force, or about 56 jobs, at its Iowa ethanolplant.


Between March 29thand April 4th, liters of ethanol at the pump registered an averageR$ 1.496, down 0.8% from the previous week.  In the past five weeks, prices at the pump in Brazil aredown 2.41%.  

Sao Paulo'sstate government is expected to submit a request to the federal governmentasking for the mixture of anhydrous ethanol in gasoline to be increased.

Datagro reportsthat Flex fuel vehicle sales in March increased by 39%. On a Y/Y basis, thenumber of flex fuel vehicles sold rose by 204%. In the first quarter of 2009,Brazil's flex fuel units sold were hit a record for the period, totaling563,320 units, 3.9% higher than the same period last year. And it was thelargest number of units ever registered in the month of March.

Aneel reportsthat 3,419MW are expected to start operating commercially by 2102 with the useof sugarcane bagasse. 1553MW are scheduled to start operating this year,1,425MW in 2010, 306MW in 2011 and 135MW in 2012.

Cosan (NYSE:CZZ) is being speculated to be seeking a partnership withPetrobras to export ethanol to Japan.

Carbon, Clean Tech and Climate Change

UN climate chiefYvo de Baer said industrial countries are coming up short in terms of cuttingGHGs by 2020, and urged negotiators from 175 countries to develop long-termstrategies. A panel of UN scientists have concluded that industrial countriesmust cut carbon emissions by 25% to 40% from 1990 levels by 2020 to avoid acatastrophic rise in sea levels, changes in weather patterns and disruptions ofagriculture.

Archer DanielsMidland (NYSE:ADM) hosted an event for a CO2 injection test at its Decatur,Illinois ethanol facility. The project is being funded by the DOE and theIllinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. From 2010 to 2013, upto one million metric tons of captured CO2 from ADM's ethanol productionfacility in Decatur will be injected more than a mile into the earth into adeep saline formation.

Duke Energy's James Rogerslobbied again this week for a cap-and-trade system, saying the government needsto take more control of the industry in order to create greater incentives forcompanies to cut down on electricity use. And Exelon said that it cut GHGs by35% from 2001 through shutting down old, inefficient power plants andincreasing energy efficiency in transmission and distribution systems and itsbuildings.

The EU approvedstricter clean-air rules for oil companies to supplement new emission curbs oncars and in support of a campaign to increase the use of biofuels. Thepetroleum industry will be compelled to reduce emissions of GHGs by 6% over thefuel lifecycle by the end of 2020, compared with 2010. Auto makers will have tomonitor and report GHGs during the fuel lifecycle starting in 2011. The EU isalso allowing a greater amount of ethanol to be used in gasoline and tightenedthe limits on fuel pollutants including sulfur.

Energy Efficiency

NY utilityregulators approved $24 million in rebates for natural gas customers thatinstall energy efficient furnaces, boilers and other equipment. Rebates rangefrom $25 for programmable thermostats to $1,000 for high-efficiency boilers.

SAIC said itreceived a $38 million two-year contract from the Hawaii Public UtilitiesCommission to develop energy-efficiency programs. The contract may be extendedfor an additional three-years.

Energy Storage

A123 Systems isgoing to supply its lithium-ion batteries for Chrysler's first-generation EVswhich are going on sale next year.

FuelCell Energy(Nasdaq:FCEL) announced the sale of a 300kW Direct FuelCell® power plant forBarksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. The plant was purchased by ConcurrentTechnologies under contract with the US Air Force Advanced Power TechnologyOffice, and is expected to be operational in early 2010.

MechanicalTechnology (Nasdaq:MKTY) announced that it is voluntarily deregistering itscommon stock, noting that it will file a Form 25 with the Nasdaq and the SEC onor about April 16, 2009, and a delisting taking place about 10 days after that.

Plug Power(Nasdaq:PLUG) said it signed a long-term agreement with Nestle Waters NorthAmerica to supply hydrogen and hydrogen fueling station technology at itsDallas, Texas facility.

EVs, Hybrids and PHEVs

Collins BusCorp. has entered into an agreement with Azure Dynamics to develop small schoolbuses powered by hybrid electric technologies that will achieve up to a 40%increase in fuel economy while reducing maintenance costs by 30%.

Mercedesunveiled a couple hybrids this week - the E300 BlueTEC and the ML450 Hybrid.

Mitsubishi saidon Thursday that it is going to make its I MiEV available for sale in the US,but didn't say when. It is rolling out the EV in Japan by July and said lastweek that it is increasing production based on early demand.

RaserTechnologies (NYSE:RZ) said it is unveiling a 100mpg SUV at the Society ofAutomotive Engineers World Congress in Detroit on April 20-23. So much focushas been made on Raser's geothermal business, which is starting to accelerate,that it is often overlooked it has some pretty compelling powertrain technologywhich should get increasing attention in its own right as the EV/PHEV marketsheat up.


The International Partnership for Energy Development inIsland Nations (EDIN) announced three new pilot projects. The U.S. pilotproject participant will be the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI); Iceland's pilotproject will be working with Dominica; and New Zealand will work to assessgeothermal potential for numerous Pacific Island Nations.


PPLCorp. said it will file an application to revive the 125-MW Holtwood Expansionhydroelectric project, saying the federal economic stimulus package could makethe Pennsylvania project economically feasible.


AppliedMaterials (Nasdaq:AMAT) said a deal worth $1.9 billion for a purchase of itsSunFab solar panel equipment has been cut to $250 million due to deteriorationin the economy.

Canadian Solar(Nasdaq:CSIQ) and Helio Micro Utility signed a 5MW module purchase agreement,for Helio's projects as well as its partners.

LDK Solar(NYSE:LDK) and Q-Cells (QCE.DE) announced a JV to develop market opportunitiesin Europe and China, which will utilize LDK's wafers and Q-Cells' cells, notingthat the first 40MW project has already begun. The JV is not an exclusive deal,and it will not require additional funding from either of the companies.

Manz AutomationAG, which is partnered with Roth & Rau AG to make solar-cell productionlines, is cutting workforce hours by 20% to cut expenses.

Solon SE(SOO1.GY) fell after the company said it may face a €40 million impairment lossas a company it has an indirect stake in (Silicium de Provence SA) filed for"placement under administration." citing economic conditions.

SunPower(Nasdaq:SPWRA) said it is building a 17MW solar plant in southern Colorado, andit intends to sell the power generated to Xcel Energy. The plant is expected tobe complete in 2010.

Downstream,Developers and Equipment

Spire(Nasdaq:SPIR) said it was awarded an 18-month $3.7 million program by the DOE'sNational Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to develop 42% efficient III-Vthree junction tandem concentrator solar cells.

Satcon(Nasdaq:SATC) signed a 3-year 333MW master supply agreement to supply Ecostreamwith its PowerGate Plus line of PV inverters.


MEMC Electronics(NYSE:WFR) expects to report Q1 revenues of $214 million, with GM in the 20%range, on April 23.

Amtech Systems(Nasdaq:ASYS) reported preliminary FY09 Q2 revenue of $10.5 million, notingthat about $3 million in shipments have been pushed into the second half.Management also noted cost cutting efforts including a reduction of itsworkforce by 22% since its peak in September 2008, reductions in salary fromofficers and outside directors and a restructuring of its wholly ownedsubsidiary. The company expects to report a "significant loss from operations"and negative EBITDA. As of 3/31, its cash balance was $37.1 million, and itsbacklog was $34.5 million. It will report results on or about May 11.

Transmission and the Smart Grid

The ElectricPower Research Institute was selected by the National Institute of Standardsand Technology to facilitate the development of a smart grid interoperabilityroadmap for the electricity sector, in a contract worth $1.3 million.


King County,Puget Sound Energy and Bio Energy-Washington are developing a project toconvert methane gas to electricity, which is expected to be operational by theend of April. PSE will buy the methane gas from Bio Energy-Washington atcompetitive rates.

The OlmstedWaste-to-Energy Facility in Minnesota has agreed to comply with an EPA consentorder to control its mercury, dioxin and furan emissions.

In the UK,Keppel announced winning a $342 million contract from Ineos Runcorn TPS Ltd. tobuild an energy-from-waste heat and facility which is planned for completion by2012. The plant is expected to have an annual capacity to treat as much as420,000 metric tons of solid recovered fuels from household wastes, and theability to supply about 270,000MW and 500,000 tons of steam, according toKeppel. 

Water Infrastructure & Sustainability

The EPA awarded$20.45 million to the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority to help state and localgovernments finance improvements to drinking water systems. The funds are beingprovided by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009, as part of $2billion that will be awarded to fund drinking water infrastructure projectsthroughout the US. At least 20% of the funds being provided will be used forgreen infrastructure, water and energy efficiency improvements.


United States InteriorSecretary said this week that wind power off the East Coast could generateenough electricity to replace most, if not all, coal-fired plants in the US -up to 1 million megawatts of power. On Thursday, the Interior Department andthe Federal Energy Regulatory Commission signed an agreement dividing federalapproval responsibilities for offshore energy projects, resolving a two-yearlong dispute between the agencies.

In NYC, MayorBloomberg opened the first wind-turbine-mounted building in the city.

DMI Industries,a subsidiary of Otter Tail (Nasdaq:OTTR) cut 100 more workers due to decliningdemand.

Meanwhile,Global Wind Systems, which is opening an assembly plant later this year inOakland County, Michigan, said this week that it is planning on hiring 250workers.

In Kansas,legislation set to take effect next week will permit the state to issue up to$5 million in bonds to firms manufacturing solar and wind energy equipment. Inorder to be eligible, companies have to invest at least $30 million in Kansasand have at least 200 full-time workers within five years, while paying anaverage salary of $32,500.

In Nevada,legislatures are debating SB331 which would cut property taxes imposed on solarenergy facilities by 75% for 25 years and would abate local school supporttaxes imposed on property used in construction or operation of these facilitiesby 75% for 10 years.



A-Power(Nasdaq:APWR) jumped this week on a solid earnings report for the Q4 and FY08.For the quarter, revenue increased Y/Y by 93.5% to $81.4 million, with anincrease in GM to 17.8% vs. 11.2% and net income which rose 197.8% to $10million. Diluted EPS for the quarter was $0.30. For the year, revenues increase73.6% to $264.9 million, with GM of 13.9% and net income which increased 87.4%Y/Y to $28.5 million. Diluted EPS for the year was $1.01. The company's cash onhand at December 31, 2008 was $43.5 million.

Suzlon(SUZLON.NS) said it expects to return to profitability in the Q4, afterslipping to a loss of 589.7 million rupees ($12 million) on payments to replacefaulty blades and on declines in orders. Management said the company signedmore than 300MW in orders for the Q4.

State and Federal Driven News

The Fuels andTransportation Division of the California Energy Commission, is allocating $18million for ethanol and biodiesel projects for 2009 and 2010. $12 million willgo to ethanol funding and $6 million will go to biodiesel projects.

In Nevada, theSenate Taxation Committee sent SB331 to the Senate Finance Committee foradditional review. The bill would cut property taxes on solar energy facilitiesby 75% for 25 years and would abate local school support taxes imposed onproperty used in construction or operation of solar facilities by 75%  over 10 years.

 Finance and M&A

FiskerAutomotive raised $85 million in a Series D round from Eco-Drive CapitalPartners and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Fisker had raised about $80million in prior funding.

Ember Corp.raised $8 million in its latest round, bringing its total raised to $89 millionin VC funding. Investors included Chevron Technology Ventures, Stata VenturePartners

SouthwestWindpower raised $10 million in a C Round from General Electric, NGP EnergyTechnology Partners, Altira, CTTV Investments and Rockport Capital Partners.

OPXBiotechnologies raised $17.5 million in a C Round led by Braemar EnergyVentures, and joined by Altira Group, Mohr Davidow Ventures and X/Seed Capital.

Applied Solar(APSO.OB) filed an 8-K reporting that on January 29, 2009 it issued 5,747,126shares of common stock to Europanel AB, a Series B Convertible Note holder uponconversion of $500,000 in notes, converted at a rate of $0.087 per share; andon March 3, 2009, it issued 5,747,126 shares of common stock to Stryrbjorn AS,another holder of Series B Convertible Notes on the same terms.

In an effort toprotect access to certain geothermal resources, Nevada Geothermal (NGPLF.OB)said it acquired the mineral rights to Blue Mountain from Gryphon Gold Corp'swholly owned subsidiary, Nevada Eagle Resources. Nevada Geothermal paid $50,000for 31 claims subject to future production royalties of 2% net smelter returnroyalty from the core claims and 0.5% net smelter return royalty on any futureprevious metal production that is derived from mineral rights located withinthe area.

American Water(NYSE:AWK) closed an offering to issued $80 million in tax-exempt waterfacility revenue bonds through the Pennsylvania Economic Development FinancingAuthority. The coupon rate on the bonds, underwritten by Morgan Stanley, is6.2% with a maturity date of April 1, 2039. The American Recovery andReinvestment Act has established that the interest is not includable in theAlternative Minimum Tax calculation.

Upgrades and Downgrades

April 6 - FirstSolar (Nasdaq:FSLR) rated MARKET PERFORM at FBR Capital with $100 price target.

April 6 -Verenium (Nasdaq:VRNM) downgraded to HOLD at Jeffries with price target of$0.30.

April 6 - FuelTech (Nasdaq:FTEK) downgraded to HOLD at AmTech Research. AmTech had previouslyrated FTEK at BUY (10/27/08).

April 7 - ArcherDaniels Midland (NYSE:ADM) cut to SELL from HOLD at Citi Investment Research,with a price target maintained at $25.

April 7 -SunPower (Nasdaq:SPWRA) rated MARKET PERFORM at FBR Capital with a $28 pricetarget.

April 8 - ArcherDaniels Midland (NYSE:ADM) cut to SELL at Soleil, with the price target beinglowered from $33 to $22.

April 9 - MEMC(NYSE:WFR) rated BUY at AmTech Research with a $25 price target. AmTech hadpreviously rated WFR at a BUY with a $16 price target (1/23/09), a $65 pricetarget (7/24/08) and a $105 price target (3/3/08).

April 9 - GTSolar (Nasdaq:SOLR) rated EQUAL WEIGHT at Barclays Capital.

Research & Reports

The Impactof Ethanol Use on Food Prices and Green House-Gas Emissions

ThisCongressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis, which was prepared at the requestof Representatives Ron Kind, Rosa DeLauro, and James McGovern, examines therelationship between increasing production of ethanol and rising prices for food.In particular, CBO estimated how much of the rise in food prices between April2007 and April 2008 was due to an increase in the production of ethanol and howmuch that increase in prices might raise federal expenditures on foodassistance programs. CBO also examined how much the increased use of ethanolmight lower emissions of greenhouse gases. In keeping with CBO's mandate toprovide objective, impartial analysis, the report contains no recommendations.

Key Findings

  • The increased use of ethanol accounted for about 10 percent to 15 percent of the rise in food prices between April 2007 and April 2008, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates. In turn, that increase will boost federal spending for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp program) and child nutrition programs by an estimated $600 million to $900 million in fiscal year 2009. Last year, the use of ethanol reduced gasoline consumption in the United States by about 4 percent and greenhouse-gas emissions from the transportation sector by less than 1 percent.


  • In 2008, nearly 3 billion bushels of corn were used to produce ethanol in the United States. That amount constituted an increase over the previous year of almost a billion bushels. The demand for corn for ethanol production, along with other factors, exerted upward pressure on corn prices, which rose by more than 50 percent between April 2007 and April 2008.


  • CBO estimates that from April 2007 to April 2008, the rise in the price of corn resulting from expanded production of ethanol contributed between 0.5 and 0.8 percentage points of the 5.1 percent increase in food prices measured by the consumer price index (CPI). Over the same period, certain other factors-for example, higher energy costs-had a greater effect on food prices than did the use of ethanol as a motor fuel.


  • Research conducted by the Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) and used by federal agencies suggests that in the short run, the production, distribution, and consumption of ethanol will create about 20 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the equivalent processes for gasoline. In the long run, the result is less clear.


  • Research by ANL suggests that increased use of cellulosic ethanol in the amounts specified in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 could reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from the nation's transportation sector by as much as 130 million metric tons of CO2e by 2022-which would equal about 6 percent of emissions from that sector or slightly more than 2 percent of total projected U.S. emissions from all sources in that year. However, that potential would be realized only if cellulosic ethanol could be produced on a large scale and if the effects of changes in land use did not offset the reduction that producing, distributing, and consuming ethanol could make in greenhouse-gas emissions.

Upcoming Events in April 2009

 Upcoming Events

About Aspire Clean Tech Communications, Inc.

Based in SanDiego, Aspire Clean Tech Communications is dedicated to providing strategicconsulting and communications services to businesses operating in thealternative energy and clean tech industries. Our commentary and outlook on thepublic markets and the alternative energy can be found on a daily basis at

For moreinformation about Aspire Clean Tech Communications, Inc., contact Todd M.Pitcher at 858-518-1387, or go to

This Aspire Weekin Review was sponsored by ComancheClean Energy, Inc., a leading Brazilian ethanol and biofuel firm bringingthe lowest cost and most efficient alternative energy solutions to the world, IX Energy (IXEH.OB), providing turnkeyrenewable solutions to federal and commercial customers, and HaydenCommunications, Inc., Wall Street's leading corporate communications firm. Formore information about Hayden Communications, call 646-536-7331, for moreinformation about Comanche Clean Energy, or Power Efficiency; contact Todd M.Pitcher at 760-798-4938.

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