Aspire Week in Review – Week Ended February 27, 2009

Mar 01, 2009
Author: Administrator

This week Obamamade the case, several times for his stimulus plan and budget and at the top ofhis agenda is his energy plan which features investment and legislative supportfor alternative energy and energy efficiency, as well as infrastructure. Hisbudget got some criticism in the media because it intends to rely on $15billion annually from auctioning carbon credits to help develop alternativeenergy, while there is currently no legislative and regulatory framework forsuch a system in place.

In addition tothe $15 billion to be invested into alternative energy beginning in 2012,Obama's budget includes:

  • 2010 proposal for EPA of $10.5 billion - an increase of 34.6% from 2009 estimate
  • Reinstating taxes, starting in 2011, on petroleum products, chemical feedstocks and crude oil which would pay for cleaning hazardous waste sites
  • 2010 energy proposal for $26.3 billion which would be focused, amongst other things, on developing a smart grid, bringing loan guarantees to solar, wind and geothermal, bringing energy efficiency to low income homes, developing a better strategy for nuclear waste disposal and cutting spending on the Yucca Mountain money pit.
  • 2010 proposal for the Interior of $10 billion which would be focused, amongst other things on dedicating land to product clean energy, investing in wind, solar and other green-energy projects, and increasing fees on oil and gas companies harvesting fuels on public property
  • 2010 proposal for NASA of $18.7 billion which includes a refocusing of NASA's efforts on issues surrounding global warming

DukeUniversity's Brian Murray, director for economic analysis at the NicholasInstitute for Environmental Policy Solutions, told Reuters he expects thatObama's cap and trade program would generate $80 billion in revenues annually,assuming a $15 starting price on carbon emissions.





At a clean techconference put on by the Center for American Progress this week, Harry Reid(D-NEV) said he intends to introduce bipartisan legislation which would givethe government more control in terms of where electric grid transmission lineswill be placed, stating that the process, if left to 231 state regulators,would be held up.

Look for thelegislation to have Boone Pickens' stamp on it with a commitment to natural gasas well. He was a feature participant at the conference, and pointed to thePort of Los Angeles model with clean trucks as an example that the country needsto follow.

Bill Clintonsaid one of the bright spots of the past few months is that the National CleanEnergy Project coalition has held together, despite the decline in oil prices.He said the sexiest things are to talk about what we are going to do with cleanenergy, but the biggest short-term gains in jobs and GHG reduction in terms oftechnology available right now are in energy efficiency advances and buildingretrofits.

In Canada, theOntario Government introduced Bill 150, the Green Energy Act, 2009 (GEA). The GEAwill introduce legislation that is intended to attract new investment, createnew green economy jobs and better protect the environment.

Biofuel and Biomass

TheBiotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) projects that the advanced biofuelsindustry could result in more than 800,000 jobs by 2022. 

Meanwhile, biofuelsorganizations, advocates and regulatory bodies just seem to be unable to getout of their own way and collectively get behind a united framework for growthin the global industry. This week reports surfaced that the EU is proposingbiodiesel anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on U.S. firms that range from€26 to €41 euros - beginning on March 13 and lasting for three months. The moveis widely seen as a reaction to U.S. subsidies on EU producers. In anincreasingly protectionist environment in the U.S. we are skeptical this getsresolved in a friendly way in the near term.

BlueFire Ethanol(BFRE.OB) said it has been issued Authority to Construct Air Permits for itsplanned cellulosic refinery in Lancaster, CA from the Antelope Valley AirQuality Management District. The planned facility will have annual capacity ofabout 3.7 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year.

HighlandsBiofuels has secured a $305,000 state grant in Florida for a demo project ongrowing sweet sorghum as an ethanol feedstock. The planned facility is expectedto produce 20 million gallons of ethanol per year beginning in 2010 and can beexpanded to twice that capacity.  

Mascomaannounced that its demo facility in Rome, NY is now producing ethanol fromnon-food based cellulosic biomass. The facility has production capacity of upto 200,000 gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year.

NortheastBiofuels is laying off about half of its workforce, or 25 or 57, starting nextweek. The company filed bankruptcy in January and hasn't been able to raise anymoney to keep operations going. And Coshocton Ethanol is laying off about 30employees, while it is reportedly about to file for bankruptcy.

Pacific Ethanol(Nasdaq:PEIX) said it has successfully extended its forbearance agreements withlenders while it continues to try and find better loan terms. The lenders willhold back from exercising their rights and remedies through March 31, 2009, asthey relate to certain loan covenant defaults. It is also temporarilysuspending operations at two 60 million gallon per year facilities in Idaho andCalifornia. Since January 12, it has now suspended operations for 160 milliongallons of annual production.

This is symptomaticof the industry, according to the USDA chief economist Joseph Glauber, who saidthis week that as much as 15% of production capacity is likely standing idle.Mandates for ethanol use increase from 10.5 billion gallons in 2009 to 12billion in 2010.

Verenium's(Nasdaq:VRNM) stock took a hit on Friday (down 66%) after it said in an 8Kfiling that it expects the conversion price on its 8% Notes to reset to "aprice substantially less than the current conversion price of $4.09, possiblyas low as $1.47 per share" and the Notes include a "make whole" provision whichwill require it to pay holders that convert an amount equal in value to theinterest foregone over the life of the 8% Notes. The stock closed at $0.37.

ZeaChem choseCH2M Hill for the engineering, procurement and construction of its plannedBoardman, Oregon biomass refinery.

The Columbiangovernment announced plans to build a 50,000 liter (13,200 gallons)  per day biofuels plant in Chiapas,Mexico. The plant will use vegetable oil as feedstock and will cost $2 million. And state-owned Vietnam NationalOil and Gas Group is planning to develop at least three new ethanol productionfacilities in Vietnam. Each plant is project to have a production capacity of100 million liters of ethanol per year, and will begin production in 2010.


JatophraBioJetCorporation, a collaboration between Abundant Biofuels Corp., South Pole CarbonAsset Management and Mitch Hawkins & Co. announced its formation to developthe Jatophra/advanced biofuels market for jet, turbine and aerospaceapplications.

Honda isreportedly building a new R&D facility that is going to be focused onproducing biofuels from non-foot feedstocks.


Datagro reportedthat ethanol prices in Säo Paulo continue to decline, with a liter of anhydrousethanol down 4.52% from February 16 to February 20, to an average cost of R$0.8275.

HindustanPetroleum, Bharat Petroleum and Indian Oil Corporation have scrapped plans toinvest in ethanol production in Brazil.


Covanta Holding(NYSE:CVA) reported a 5% Y/Y increase in Q4 revenue to $414 million and netincome of $30 million, compared to net income of $72 in the same period lastyear. For the FY08, revenue increased 16% to $1.66 billion, while net incomeincrease 7% to $139 million. Management's guidance for FY09 is for operatingcash flow in the range of $325 million to $375 million, adjusted EBITDA of $500million to $540 million and diluted EPS of $0.75 to $0.90.



Carbon, Clean Tech and Climate Change

NASA's satellitewhich was being sent into orbit to monitor climate change crashed into theocean this week shortly after its launch (three minutes after). The $280million project was nine years in development and was supposed to keep thesatellite in orbit for two years.

Remnants of theBush administration's EPA came under further scrutiny this week when the U.S.Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia called into question itsrationale for soot and limits, after it was sued by several states and environmentalgroups. The Obama EPA will now be left to set new limits. The federal appealscourt said the EPA failed to adequately explain the sufficiency of its standardand that the Bush EPA acted unreasonable and contrary to the law when it setthe standard.


The EPA isawarding $229,703 to the Manchester Transit Authority to install a combinationof advanced pollution control and idle reduction technologies on 89 municipalvehicles. In addition, funds will be used to cover the incremental cost ofbiodiesel fuel for the entire fleet of city vehicles.

The grant willallow the Manchester Transit Authority to install diesel oxidation catalysts on72 city-owned vehicles, reducing particulate matter emissions by approximately20 percent. Amongst other things, the grant will also cover the incrementalcost of a 20 percent blend of biodiesel (B20) fuel for the entire fleet of cityvehicles.

And the EPAannounced more than $1.35 million in funding to reduce pollution from dieselvehicles and equipment operating in New England: $400,000 to Massport toinstall dockside power stations at the Boston Fish Pier; $400,000 to theEnvironmental Defense Fund to introduce hybrid tricks to New England Fleets;and $535,000 to Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management to retrofitregional locomotives.

In Connecticut,the EPA awarded the Department of Environmental Protection $50,000 to installadvanced pollution control technology on state-owned maintenance equipment.

In the Midwest,the EPA awarded more than $4.8 million in grants as part of the Midwest CleanDiesel Initiative. In Vermont, and through the Northeast Diesel CollaborativeEmissions Reduction Grant Program, the EPA awarded $205,523 to the ChittendenSolid Waste District to replace three diesel vehicles with new compressednatural gas (CNG) vehicles.

Point Carbonforecast allowances and credits equivalent to 5.9 billion tons of CO2 will betraded in 2009, up from 4.9 billion tons in 2008. Downward pricing pressure isexpected to drive the market value to €62.6 billion, ($80.3 billion) down from€92 billion in 2008.

Governors BillRitter (Col), Dave Freudenthal (Wyo) and Jon Huntsman (Utah) appealed to theObama administration to fund clean coal technology development.

Wyoming'sGovernor Freudenthal signed into law 2 carbon bills that will help create aregulatory framework for carbon storage.

The SupremeCourt refused a request from electric utility companies to hear an appeal of alower court decision which struck down a Bush administration rule which wouldhave let utilities purchase emission credits instead of reducing emissionsthemselves.

ThermoEnergyCorp (TMEN.OB) and Babcock & Brown announced a joint venture to develop andcommercialize advanced carbon capture plant designs. The companies have alreadycollaborated on the development of the ThermoEnergy Integrated Power System(TIPS) technology. This goes to the opportunity we have been talking about interms of the opportunity for pollution controls firms under the newadministration. The Babcock & Brown component is critical and probablyensures TMEN will get some real traction. B&B deep in the government's backpockets. Also, keep an eye on FuelTech (Nasdaq:FTEK) which is super-well positionedon the NOX, SOX, Mercury reduction end. I think this sector is superunder-covered and is just getting ready to take off.

The EuropeanParliament and various EU Member States are advocating legislation to mandateby 2020 that oil companies generate 10% less C02 when producing and usingfuels.


Calgon Corp(NYSE:CCC) reported an 8% increase in Q4 revenues on a Y/Y basis to $102.4million, and net income of $7.9 million, or $0.14 per share, up from $3.8million for the same period last year. For FY08,  revenue was $400.3 million, compared to $351.1 million forFY07, and net FY08 income was $38.4 million, a 150% Y/Y increase.


EVs, Hybrids and PHEVs

Balqon (BALQ.OB) is producing electric heavy-dutydrayage trucks. The development and demonstration of the Balqon Nautilus E30electric truck was co-funded by the Port and South Coast Air Quality ManagementDistrict for $527,000.

Liberty ElectricCars said it is investing £30 million into plans to begin manufacturing a PHEVRange Rover, with expectations of production volume at about 1,000 per year.

MitsubishiMotors signed an MOU with Hong Kong to test its EV, the I MiEV within the nextfew months. Hong Kong's government is extending the waiver of the firstregistration tax on EVs for five years to March 31, 2014. And Magna isunveiling is Mila EV at a car show in Geneva which has a 67hp electric motorpowered by a lithium-ion battery that can recharge in 2.5 hours. The car has arange of 150km. Magna has no plans to go into production but is hopingpotential customers will be interested in some of the components in the car.

Raleigh, NorthCarolina is partnering with Progress Energy, Inc. and Advanced Energy Corp. todevelop charging infrastructure around the city for PHEVs. Other citiesparticipating in Project Get Ready are Portland and Indianapolis.


MunichReinsurance Co., the German Federal Ministry for the Environment andstate-owned KfW Bankengruppe are each contributing a third of a €60 million(76.9 million) fund to support development of geothermal power projects inGermany.


Calpine(NYSE:CPN) reported Q4 revenues of $2 billion, up from $1.9 billion in theprior year. Net loss was $146 million, compared to $90 million for the sameperiod last year. FY08 revenues were $9.9 billion, compared to $8 billion inFY07. Management said comps for net income for the year are skewed due toimpacts from restructuring during bankruptcy and other one-time items. Managementsaid the company provided more than 6 million MWh of geothermal energy with aforced outage factor of 0.5%.

Ormat (NYSE:ORA)reported a 35.2% Y/Y increase in revenues for Q4 to $95.5 million and a 16.5%Y/Y increase in revenues for the year to $344.8 million. Net income increase31.3% in Q4 to $11.7 million, or $0.26 per share, and 82% for the year to $49.8million or $1.12 per share. Product backlog reached $194 million. Ormat-ownedgenerating capacity increased by 109MW in 2008, or 25% Y/Y. Its total energygenerating portfolio is now 505MW. Management said in FY09 it expectselectricity segment sales to be in a range of $280 and $290 million, andrevenues in its product segment to come in a range of $100 and $120million. 


TheDepartment of Energy's hydropower research and development program will get $40million from the $410 billion omnibus appropriations bill passed in the Housethis week.

TheColorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority approved a $1.45million loan to the city of Cortez for the 240-kW Cortez Micro HydroelectricProject.

Aquamarine PowerLtd. and renewable energy developer Airtricity agreed to form a joint ventureto develop 1,000 MW of wave and tidal energy sites in the British Isles by2020.

China andPakistan agreed to jointly develop hydropower, under a framework set up by theChina River Three Gorges Project Development Corp and the Water and PowerDevelopment Authority in Pakistan.


Utilities areone of the few positive developments in the solar sector of late which has beenchallenged by dried up funding for projects in the commercial and residentialmarkets. With a 30% tax credit available to them, utilities have been makingsome solid announcements for planned projects.

PG&Eannounced plans to develop up to 500MW in projects over the next five yearswhich would meet about 1.3% of its electricity demand. It plans to invest $1.4billion to own up to half of the solar generation, or 250MW.

And NRG signedan agreement with eSolar to develop up to 500MW of solar in California and theSouthwest. NRG said it will invest about $10 million for equity and developmentrights for three projects and a portfolio of PPAs to develop, build and operateup to 11 eSolar modular solar units at the sites using eSolar's concentratingsolar power. In an open letter to its shareholders, NRG said it intends to be aleader in solar development in the U.S.

Hoku(Nasdsaq:HOKU) said it entered a change of order agreement with Stone &Webster to "clarify" the scope of on-going work for its planned 4,000MT peryear poly production facility. Hoku will delay the detailed engineering andconstruction of the TCS production plant area until April, and is reassigningconstruction management services to JH Kelly.

Whacker ChemieAG (WCHG.DE) is building a $1 billion poly plant in southeastern Tennessee. Theplant is expected to create at least 500 jobs.

China Sunergy(Nasdaq:CSUN) signed an agreement to supply 20MW to 25MW of wafers to aU.S.-based manufacturer. The wafers will be delivered in 2009.


BTUInternational (Nasdaq:BTUI) announced an order for in-line thermal processingsystems from a thin-film customers.

Evergreen Solar(Nasdaq:ESLR) said construction on a 2.8MW solar facility on top of Germany'sA3 Highway is almost complete. The 16,000 solar panel project cost €11 millionand will is expected to pay off in 16 years through cost savings.

Solargy Systemsannounced an LOI worth about $15 million with Barron Properties to develop and installa solar farm in Wellington, Florida, with the energy produced being sold toFlorida Power & Light under a PPA.

Tokyo Electronhas agreed to exclusively sell and service Oerlikon Solar's thin-film PVequipment and end-to-end production solutions in Asia, Oceania and Japan.



Advanced EnergyIndustries (Nasdaq:AEIS) reported Q4 sales of $67.5 million, down 19.5% Y/Y and20% sequentially. Gross margin was 27.2%, down from 39.1% Y/Y. For FY08,revenue was down 14.5% to $328.9 million, with a net loss of $1.8 million, or$0.04 per share, compared to income last year of $34.4 million, or $0.75 pershare. Management said despite the revenue decline overall, it doubled itssolar revenue - aided by the introduction of the Solaron® inverter.

Akeena Solar(Nasdaq:AKNS) reported Q4 revenue of $10.9 million, an increase of 5%. Grossmargins were 10.6%, down from 18.1% for the same period last year. It's Q4 lossrose 105% Y/Y to $9.1 million, or $0.32 per diluted share. For the year,revenue was $40.8 million, an increase of 26% on a Y/Y basis. It lost $24.3million for the year, or $0.87 per diluted share, an increase of 120% Y/Y.Management is forecasting 10% to 20% growth in 2009.

BTU International(Nasdaq:BTUI) reported a 19.6% Y/Y decline in Q4 revenue to $14.7 million, anda net loss of $2.2 million, or $0.23 per share, compared to a net loss of $0.6million, or $0.06 per share for the same period last year. For the year,revenue increased 13.4% to $72.3 million and net loss was $1.1 million, or$0.12 per share compared to a loss of $1.9 million, or $0.20 per share lastyear. Management iterated that it continues to invest in its alternative energybusiness, introducing new products for the solar industry and its alternativeenergy business will be a key driver in terms of getting to profitability inthe second half this year.

China Sunergy(Nasdaq:CSUN) provided an update, stating the Q4 solar cell production was atthe top of the guidance range of 15MW to 20MW. Gross margins are expected to bein the high single digit range. And the company will increase its inventoryprovision of about $10 million.

First Solar(Nasdaq:FSLR) was down $22.12 in pre-market activity the morning after itannounced its Q4 and FY results, or 16% to $115.56 after posting Q4 revenues of$433.7 million, up 24% sequentially and 116% Y/Y. Revenues for the year were$1.25 billion, up 147% Y/Y. Net income for the quarter was $132.8 million, or$1.61 per share, a 33% increase in revenues over the prior quarter and 111%Y/Y. Net income for the year was $348.4 million, or $4.24 per share, comparedto net income of $158.4 million (increase of 119%), or $2.03 per share lastyear. Q4 EPS was 24% above Street estimates and it pass the less-than $1.00cost per watt milestone. It wasn't a surprise to hear management reduceguidance in the current economic environment, but the Street didn't take thelowered guidance well.

Q-Cells(QCEG.DE) cut its 2009 sales outlook (for the second time since December) to arevenue range of €1.7 billion and €2.1 billion. It also extended its €750million ($961 million) loan until the end of December. So far, it has drawndown €250 million on the loan.

Solon SE(SOOG.SE) said sales for FY08 grew to €815 million, up 62% Y/Y and reported netincome of €32 million. Production capacity at its module plants increased to450MWp in 2008. Management withdrew its 2009 sales outlook, saying that thedevelopment of the U.S. market and southern Europe cannot be reliablyestimated.


Beacon Power(Nasdaq:BCON) signed an agreement with American Electric Power and a subsidiaryto build a 1MW "Smart" regulation system in Groveport, Ohio.

Brazil'sPresident Lula signed contracts with $3 billion for the construction oftransmission lines from two hydro plants in the Amazon region that will carry7,500MW a month. The lines are expected to be operational by 2013.

In China, theState Grid Corp said it plans to triple its ultra-high voltage (UHV) transmissionlines by 2012, with plans to invest about 100 billion Yuan to do so.

Water & Sustainability

The economicstimulus package includes more than $7 billion for water infrastructure, with$4 billion for wastewater, $2 billion for drinking water and $1.38 billion forrural water programs.

CaliforniaGovernor Schwarzenegger is planning to declare a state of emergency due to thethree-year drought in the state. Reservoirs are at their lowest levels since1992.

The EPA gave a$2 million grant to Philadelphia for a Water Security Initiative to help itaddress the risk of intentional contamination of its drinking water supply,with total funding available that can grow to $9.5 million - contingent on theEPA's budget.


Calgon Carbon(NYSE:CCC) reported Q4 earnings of $7.9 million, or $0.14 per share, up from$3.8 million, or $0.08 per share for the same period last year. Revenuesincreased 8% to $102.4 million. FY08 revenue was $400.3 million, up from $351.8million last year, while profit came in at $38.7 million, or $0.72 per share,up from $15.3 million or $0.31 per share last year.


Chinesemanufacturer Shenfei Group awarded a $1.6 million contract to West VirginiaUniversity's College of Engineering and Mineral Resources and its partner, GTTechnologies to design a more efficient wind turbine, with a vertical axis withblades that spin on a horizontal plane.


Acciona (ANA.MC)reported FY08 revenues of €12.6 billion, a 59.3% Y/Y increase and profit of €464million ($589.9 million,) down 51% Y/Y. The energy business generated revenuesof €1.7 billion, up 63.2% Y/Y, and €589 million in EBITDA, a 50.3% Y/Yincrease. As of December 31, installed wind capacity in Spain was 3,274MW andworldwide, it was 4,566MW (up 19.4% Y/Y). In terms of wind power produced, inSpain it produced 6,764GWh and total worldwide it produced 8,347GWh. In otherrenewables (minihydro, biomass, solar PV, solar thermo and cogen), as ofDecember 31, installed capacity worldwide was 305MW and total energy producedwas 1,311GWh.

Gamesa (GAMS.BE)reported FY08 revenue of €3.6 billion, up 27% Y/Y, with EBITDA of €495 milliona Y/Y increase of 40%. Consolidated net profit increased 45% Y/Y to €320million. Management said its wind generator manufacturing unit closed 2008 with3,684MWe of wind turbines sold, up 12% Y/Y and it delivered 1,375MW tocustomers in the Q4. In terms of outlook , it expects to have sales of between3,300 and 3,600MWe.



The Alliance toProtect Nantucket Sound filed a lawsuit this week opposing a proposed  130 turbine wind farm off Cape Cod.

DOE Watch

The USDepartment of Energy has issued a modified $300-million Funding Opportunity Announcementfor applications for cost-shared projects that expand the use of alternativefueled vehicles and advanced technology vehicles.


Alt Energy at the State and Federal Level

Ranking GOPmember of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, LisaMurkowski acknowledged the momentum of the Obama administration towardalternative energy the day after Obama's speech to Congress and the nation, andadvocated GOP support for alternative energy, but reminded us all that we needto continue to support domestic development of energy sources that are fuelingthe majority of America's energy requirements today.

At meetings ofthe National Governors Association, Governors Hoeven (ND-R), Rounds (SD-R),Pawlenty (MN-R) and Culver (IWA-R) took time out to voice support foralternative fuels (pushing for 13% ethanol blending mandate) and wind energy,as well as a national renewable energy standard.

Kansas GovernorKathleen Sebelius said she wouldn't accept an energy bill in the House whichwould allow two coal plants in the state, and because it limits the Health andEnvironment's ability to regulate GHGs. While House Speaker Mike O'Neal said heexpects to have enough votes to override Sebelius' veto, but failed to musterthe numbers. Now the vote goes to the Senate where leaders there will attemptto rally enough votes to veto.

Research & Reports

GreenPower Superhighways  - Building aPath to America's Clean Energy Future

Modernizing America's outdated transmissioninfrastructure will not be easy. It will require bold, forward-looking actionfrom leaders who recognize that addressing America's economic, energy, andclimate challenges must be a top priority in the coming years. All three challengesare intertwined. All three require new, innovative ways of thinking aboutenergy policy at the local, state, and federal level. And all three willrequire a modern transmission system that is able to deliver clean, abundantrenewable energy to homes and businesses efficiently and reliably. These arechallenges that we can and must address now. The AWEAand the SEAI

GAOTestimony before the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, Committee on Scienceand Technology, House of Representatives

This testimonyfocuses on (1) the importance of quality data on emissions in the context of aprogram intended to limit greenhouse gas emissions, and (2) key considerationsin developing reliable data on greenhouse gas emissions. This testimony isbased on several prior GAO reports and a review of related literature.

Unintended Environmental Consequences of a GlobalBiofuels Program

ABSTRACT: Biofuels are being promoted as an importantpart of the global energy mix to meet the climate change challenge. Theenvironmental costs of biofuels produced with current technologies at smallscales have been studied, but little research has been done on the consequencesof an aggressive global biofuels program with advanced technologies usingcellulosic feedstocks. Here, with simulation modeling, we explore two scenariosfor cellulosic biofuels production and find that both could contributesubstantially to future global-scale energy needs, but with significantunintended environmental consequences. As the land supply is squeezed to makeway for vast areas of biofuels crops, the global landscape is defined by eitherthe clearing of large swathes of natural forest, or the intensification ofagricultural operations worldwide. The greenhouse gas implications of land-useconversion differ substantially between the two scenarios, but in both,numerous biodiversity hotspots suffer from serious habitat loss. Cellulosicbiofuels may yet serve as a crucial wedge in the solution to the climate changeproblem, but must be deployed with caution so as not to jeopardizebiodiversity, compromise ecosystems services, or undermine climate policy.


Impact of battery weight and charging patterns on theeconomic and environmental benefits of plug-in hybrid vehicles


While the U.S. transportation sector isoverwhelmingly powered by petroleum, oil-fired power plants provide only about2% of U.S. electricity generation. The balance of the 2006 electricity mixincludes coal (49%), nuclear (20%) natural gas (20%), hydroelectric (7%),renewables (3%), and other (1%) (EIA, 2008a). We explore the impact of PHEVbattery capacity on fuel consumption, cost, and GHG emissions benefits over arange of charging frequencies. The tradeoffs identified in this analysis canprovide a space for policymakers, vehicle manufacturers, and the public toidentify optimal decisions to maximize economic and environmental objectiveswith PHEVs.(excerpt from Introduction).


Upgrades & Downgrades

February 23 -First Solar (Nasdaq:FSLR) rated BUY with $175 price target at Collins Stewart.Collins Stewart had previously rated FSLR at BUY with a $210 price target(10/13/08), and a $320 price target (6/30/08).

February 24 -Suntech Power (NYSE:STP) downgraded from BUY to HOLD at Argus.

February 24 -MEMC (NYSE:WFR) rated BUY at Lazard with price target of $18.

February 24 -Verenium (Nasdaq:VRNM) rated BUY with a $3 price target at Lazard. Lazardpreviously rated VRNM at BUY with a $6 price target.

February 24 -Verenium (Nasdaq:VRNM) rated BUY with a $3 price target at ThinkPanMure.

February 25 -First Solar (Nasdaq:FSLR) rated BUY at Jeffries with a $170 price target.Jeffries had previously rated FSLR at BUY with a $180 price target (12/19/08).

February 25 -First Solar (Nasdaq:FSLR) rated MARKET PERFORM at Friedman Billings with a $110price target. Friedman Billings had previously rated First Solar at HOLD with a$120 price target (11/19/08), a $210 price target (10/14/08), and a $200 pricetarget (5/21/08).

February 25 -First Solar (Nasdaq:FSLR) rated SELL at Kaufman Bros with a price target of$86. Kaufman had previously rated FSLR at HOLD with a price target of $114(2/17/08), a price target of $140 (10/30/08) and a price target of $260(5/28/08). 

February 26 -Evergreen Solar (Nasdaq:ESLR) rated SELL at UBS. UBS had previously rated ESLRat HOLD (10/28/08) and BUY with a $20 price target (12/13/07).

February 26 -SunPower (Nasdaq:SPWRA) raised from SELL to NEUTRAL at UBS.

February 26 -China BAK Battery (Nasdaq:CBAK) raised from HOLD to BUY at Roth Capital with $2price target. UBS had previously rated CBAK at HOLD with a $4 price target(12/4/08), a $6 price target (9/4/08), a $5.50 price target (7/29/08), and  a $3.50 price target (5/13/08).

February 26 - Ormat(NYSE:ORA) rated OUTPERFORM at RBC with a $46 price target. RBC had previouslyrated ORA at BUY with a $65 price target (8/7/08), and a $70 price target(5/8/08).

February 27 -Akeena (Nasdaq:AKNS) rated HOLD at Kaufman Bros. Kaufman had previously ratedAKNS at BUY with a $6 price target (11/4/08) and a $12 price target (5/28/08).

February 27 -Ormat (NYSE:ORA) rated BUY at Janco Partners with price target of $36.

February 27 -Greatbatch (NYSE:GB) rated SECTOR PERFORM at RBC Capital Markets.

Finance and M&A

Principle EnergyLimited received $10 million from Craton Equity Partners. PEL is working onsustainable biofuel development with projects targeting sub-Saharan Africa, andhas a vertically integrated sugarcane ethanol facility in Mozambique which isexpected to produce 60 million gallons of ethanol per year in full production.

The markets havebeen speculating on whether Q-Cells (QCEG.DE) and Renewable Energy Corp(REC.OL) might get together. Q-Cells already has a 17.18% stake in REC.

The Iowa PowerFund approved a $14.75 million contract to help POET develop a commercial-sizedcellulosic plant, with the first $5 million being used to further R&D toconvert an existing ethanol plant in Emmetsburg to include the production ofethanol from corncobs and corn fiber. POET intends to begin production at theEmmetsburg plant in 2011.

Renewable Fuelsbought the former Tennol ethanol plant, which was built in 1984 for $72million, and then sold in 10994 to Ag Processing for $10.5 million, for $2. 6million.

Genesis Solarannounced an LOI from an unidentified US investor for $42 million into itsSpanish subsidiary contingent on an equity swap wherein Genesis EnergyInvestment PLC acquires a stake in the US firm in return for 100% of itsSpanish subsidiary.


Aspire Indices Performance for the Week Ended February 20, 2009

Despite all ofthe ballyhoo in Washington about this administration's commitment toalternative energy, clean technology and energy efficiency, and the clearwriting on the wall that hundreds of billions will be invested in the next fewyears into developing this emerging energy sector, stocks continued to take abeating this week. Here is the performance of our indices:

  • Biofuels group - down 21% on the week and 30% year-to-date
  • Energy management group - down 8% on the week and 11% year-to-date
  • Energy storage group - down 5% on the week and 13% year-to-date
  • Geothermal group - down 9% on the week, and 1% year-to-date
  • Upstream solar group - down 1% on the week and 20% year-to-date
  • Midstream solar group - down 11% on the week and 31% year-to-date
  • Downstream solar - down 4% on the week and 8% year-to-date
  • Solar equipment group - down 11% on the week and 8% year-to-date
  • Wind group - down 8% on the week, and 21% year-to-date;
  • The DJIA fell 4% on the week, and is down 19% year-to-date;
  • The S&P 500 fell about 5% on the week, and is down 18% year-to-date; while
  • The Nasdaq fell 5% on the week and is down 12% year-to-date.


One would think that alternative energy and clean tech had the esteem ofcoal these days. To be sure, the markets continue to discount the groups in theface of tight credit conditions which are stalling residential and commercialprojects. It seems the only warm markets in the near term will be driven byutilities and the federal government        






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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

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