Aspire Week in Review - Week Ended November 14, 2008tt

Nov 15, 2008
Author: Administrator

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The renewable energy industry coalesced this week to issue a joint statement on what its leaders (American Wind Energy Association, Geothermal Energy Association, National Hydropower Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association) want from the new administration and the next Congress - "the Big Ask." We had previously mentioned that the Solar Energy Industries Association's spokesperson, Rhone Resch had intimated this would be forthcoming a few weeks ago at Piper's Solar Symposium. Here is what they are asking for:

  • Immediately - adjust renewable energy tax credit policies so incentives work as intended given the current economic conditions
  • 111th Congress

Adopt a national renewable electricity (portfolio) standard to ensure at least 10% of electricity consumed in the U.S. is derived from renewable energy sources by 2012 and at least 25% by 2025;

Approve a minimum five-year extension of the federal renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) and additional funding for the Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) program;

Launch a major initiative to support investment in our nation's interstate electrical grid infrastructure and smart-grid technology to deliver green energy from areas with renewable resources to population centers and to support distributed power generation;

Invest $30 billion in 2009 for financing options that support new project development and installations for all renewable energy technologies as part of the Administration's commitment to investment of $150 billion over the next ten years in clean energy technologies;

Adopt a cap-and-trade regime to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that rewards production of clean renewable energy.

This is a great reference point for Congress, and we will have to wait and see how much of this agenda gets adopted, but suffice it to say, that the outlook for legislative support for renewable energy and clean has never been better.

The International Energy Agency this week predicted world energy demand will rise 1.6 percent per year on average between 2006 and 2030 and called for massive investment in energy infrastructure to prevent a supply squeeze. With increasing demand still expected to from China and India the IEA said that these trends call for energy supply investment of $26.3 trillion to 2030, or more than $1 trillion a year, but it noted that tight credit conditions could delay spending. In addition, it said renewable energy will surpass gas as the second largest source of electricity by 2012.

The European Commission proposed a plan to increase energy security in Europe, supporting the 20-20-20 climate change proposals which are expected to be agreed on by December. The Commission's strategy, amongst other things will provide a new policy on energy networks to stimulate investment in more efficient, low-carbon energy networks. Its EU Energy Security and Solidarity Action Plan sets out five areas where more action is needed to secure sustainable energy supplies.

Ireland's renewable energy consumption doubled from 2003 to 2007, according to Sustainable Energy Ireland. The primary contributor for growth was wind energy. Total installed wind capacity in Ireland as of September was 915MW. The report says that an additional 400MW of wind and biomass capacity will be needed by 2010 to enable Ireland to reach its target of 15pc of renewable energy driven electricity.

Biofuels and Biomass

Several leading ethanol firms, including POET, LLC, ICM Inc., Western Plains Energy LLC, Amaizing Energy LLC, Hawkeye Renewables LLC and Green Plains Renewable Energy, joined forces this week forming Growth Energy to push back on critics of the ethanol industry. Amongst other things, the group is calling for the incoming Obama administration to set the ethanol-to-gasoline blend rate to 15% to 20%.

However, only a small percentage of the current U.S. fleet of cars are designed to handle higher ethanol blends - about 7 million out of 250 million vehicles.

At present, U.S. gasoline consumption is about 140 billion gallons each year, and legislation mandates the use of 9 billion gallons of renewable fuels this year, 10.5 billion gallons in 2009 and 15 billion gallons by 2015.

A move that will not help biofuels producers in the U.S., regardless of the feedstock is the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to revise its calculation for the contribution biofuels makes to green-house gases. Essentially, if farmers grow crops for fuel use instead of food, farmers in other countries will have to increase food production that will result in higher worldwide emissions.

Aventine (NYSE:AVR) continues to struggle. Today it said it is temporarily suspending construction at its Aurora, Nebraska bio-refinery  and will extend the remaining construction scheduled at its Mount Vernon, Indiana bio-refinery.

Amyris Biotechnologies opened its first pilot plant producing No Compromise(tm) hydrocarbon based fuel. It plans on opening a larger pilot plant in Campinas, Brazil in mid-2009.

Covanta (NYSE:CVS) amended its agreement to purchase to biomass facilities from Ridgewood Maine and Indeck Energy Services, for $52 million, subject to working cap adjustments, as opposed to the $87 million net of cash required that was previously agreed on.

China Clean Energy (OTCBB:CCGY) said it has resumed biodiesel production at an existing plant due to declines in feedstock prices which makes the business more feasible, with expected gross margins of 23%. It said it is sourcing feedstock domestically this quarter and it expects to produce up to 800 tons (2.4 million gallons) of biodiesel per month.

Jatropha Prepares for Lift Off

Air New Zealand and Boeing announced that December 3 will be the date for ANZ's biofuels flight using a 747-400 jetliner. One of the airplane's four Rolls-Royce RB211 engines will be "powered in-part" using Jatropha biofuel.


Vital Renewable Energy Company (VREC) said it secured funding which will exceed $1 billion and is ready to begin developing projects in Brazil. Paladin Capital led the round of financing, and other investors included Leaf Clean Energy Company, Petercam Asset Management and PCG Clean Energy and Technology Fund. VREC and Grupo Farias have begun construction of the first production unit in the state of Sao Paulo.

Brazil is hosting an international conference on biofuels next week to promote its ethanol industry. President Lula will keynote the event, and he is also expected to announce an agricultural zoning plan for Brazil, which will show areas where agriculture may be expanded.


The Andersons (Nasdaq:ANDE) reported Q3 revenues of $906 million, an increase over the $554 million in revenues reported for the same period last year. Net income was $12.8 million, or $0.70 per diluted share, compared with net income of $10.6 million, or $0.58 per share last year. Management provided FY guidance of $3.50 to $3.60 per diluted share.

BioFuel (Nasdaq:BIOF) reported Q3 revenues of $90.5 million, and a net loss of $33.1 million, or $2.18 per diluted share, as opposed to a net loss of $968 million, or $0.06 per dilute share in the same period last year.

China Bio Energy (OTCBB:CBEH) reported Q3 revenues of $62.9 million an increase of 56% Y/Y and net income of $9.1 million, up 122% Y/Y with diluted earnings per share of $0.27, compared with $0.17 per share for the same period last year. Management has committed, in its last round of financing to make good targets for 2008 of $28 million in net income and $0.73 per fully diluted share, and it said it expects to meet these targets.

Gushan (NYSE:GU) reported Q3 revenues of RMB 448.1 million ($66 million), an increase of 82.9% Y/Y, and net income of RMB 74.7 million ($11 million), down 14.6% Y/Y and net income per diluted ADS of $0.06, down from $0.18 in the period year period. Biodiesel sales increased 44.8 Y/Y and 6.9% on a sequential basis, while annual biodiesel capacity increased by 120,000 tons Y/Y.

MGP Ingredients (Nasdaq:MGPI) reported Q1 revenues of $99 million, up 13% Y/Y, and a net loss of $17.2 million, or $1.04 per diluted share, compared with a net loss of $353 thousand, or $0.02 per dilute share in the same period last year.

Pacific Ethanol (Nasdaq:PEIX) reported Q3 revenues of $184 million, an increase of 56% Y/Y, but net loss ballooned to $55.7 million, or $0.98 per share compared to $5.9 million, or $0.15 per share for the same period in the prior year. Management said higher corn prices were to blame, up 54% for the quarter, from the prior year, resulting in negative gross margin of 11%, compared to positive gross margin of 4% in the prior year.

Verenium (Nasdaq:VRNM) reported Q3 revenues of $16.3 million, an increase of 50% Y/Y and a net loss of $133.2 thousand, or $2.02 per diluted share, an increase from the net loss of $20.4 thousand, or $0.34 per share for the same period last year.

Clean Technology, Carbon Reduction and Energy Recovery

About 100 proposed coal-fired power plants in the US may be required to limit their greenhouse gas emissions after the Environmental Protection Agency was blocked from issuing a permit for a proposed Utah plant without addressing the issue of global warming. The EPA under the Bush administration has been anything but protective of the environment and the ruling will undoubtedly have implications for other plants waiting for permits. Obama's administration is expected to use the ruling as a mandate to require tougher regulations on emissions for coal plants.

Fujitsu announced that it has developed two new 500GB 2.5" hard disk drive models which consume 1.4W of power when recording data, one-third less than previous models.

France is expected to introduce a compromise today with Poland regarding changes to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) post-2012 intended to break a deadlock on the energy package. Poland has asked for free carbon dioxide allowances for some power plants and for a carbon price floor and ceiling. It is also pushing for emission reductions achieved by new EU members whose economies contracted after 1990.

Spain has bought rights from Hungary to emit 6 million tons of greenhouse gas through a government-level emissions trading scheme under the Kyoto Protocol.


Energy Recovery (Nasdaq:ERII) reported Q3 revenue of $9 million, down Y/Y from $10.9 million, and net income of $623 thousand, or $0.01 per diluted share, compared with $2.4 million, or $0.06 per diluted share in the same period last year. Management guidance for Q4 revenue is a range of $20 to $22 million, and for the FY2008 it expects $50 to $52 million. Estimated net income for Q4 is $3.4 to $4.1 million, or $0.07 to $0.08 per share, and for the year is $6.8 million to $7.5 million, or $0.14 to $0.16 per share.

Fuel Tech (Nasdaq:FTEK) reported  Q3 revenues of $23.7 million, up 55% Y/Y, and net income of $2.1 million, or $0.09 per diluted share, compared with $0.9 million, or $0.04 per share last year. Management revised full year revenue guidance to a range of $79 to $81 million, and FY earnings to a range of $0.15 to $0.17.

Electric Vehicles, PHEVs and Hybrids

Fisker Automotive opened a new Engineering and Development Centre in Pontiac, Michigan this week which will support the development and production of the Fisker Karma. The Fisker Karma has 50 miles of electric range and more than 350 miles of total range, and its Q-DRIVE powertrain is developed by Quantum Technologies (Nasdaq:QTWW). The Fisker Karma is expected to have potential fuel economy of more than 100MPG and initial deliveries will begin in the Q4 of 2009 with annual production forecast at 15,000 vehicles by 2015.

Nissan's executive vice president Carlos Tavares said that it is going to offer an option for consumers to lease high-voltage lithium-ion batteries separate from the price of the car, which would mitigate the higher costs as well as concerns about the lifespan of hybrid and electric-car batteries. Battery prices are typically what make electric cars more expensive. Nissan expects to being testing its electric cars in the U.S. and Japan in 2010, reaching the mass market by 2012.

Tesla made auto industry news this morning announcing that Brabus, which is well known for its modifications and performance-enhancements on the Mercedes-Benz, is tuning Tesla's Roadster. And Segway's inventor Dean Kamen is making news this week saying that he is ready to demonstrate the first hybrid electric car with a Stirling engine - the DEKA Revolt.

Energy Management, Energy Efficiency, Demand Response and the Smart Grid

The European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso commented this week on the need for Europeans to become more energy efficient and the need to create a €1.2 trillion ($1.5 trillion) European-wide "supergrid" that would replace existing national grids, integrated a wider range of renewable energy suppliers as well as larger power suppliers.

The Joint US-China Cooperation on Clean Energy (JUCCCE) is opening an office in San Francisco to focus on developing technologies for China's emerging smart grid.

Google (Nasdaq:GOOG), CPower, Conservation Services Group and Corporate Systems Engineering joined the Demand Response and Smart Grid Coalition (DRSG). And Power Integrations (Nasdaq:POWI) introduced its HiperPLC power supply controller integrated circuit which is targeted at high efficiency offline power converters in the power range of 200 to 600 watts.


Comverge (Nasdaq:COMV) reported Q3 revenues of $24.3 million, an increase of 143% Y/Y, with deferred revenues related to its residential VPC contracts of $17.7 million, as of September 30. Net loss of the Q3 was $81.8 million, or $3.85 per share, compared with a net loss of $5.3 million, or $0.28 per share for the same period last year. The net loss of $81.8 million included a non-cash impairment charge for goodwill and certain intangible assets of $75.4 million related to its acquisition of Enerwise Global Technologies in 2007. To date, Comverge has 866MW under long-term contract which will contribute to future expected revenues of $445 million.

EnerNOC (Nasdaq:ENOC) reported Q3 revenues of $44.2 million, up 131% Y/Y, and a net loss of $3.1 million, or $0.16 per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $2.5 million, or $0.14 per diluted share last year. Gross margin was 41.6% for the most recent quarter, up slightly from 41.2% for the same period last year. Management reiterated FY revenue guidance of a range to be between $101 to $107 million and revenue in the Q4 of about $19 million. It expects FY2008 GM to be about 36% and it expects to have between 2,000 and 2,200MW of demand response capacity under management by the end of 2008 with positive cash flow from operations by the second half of 2009.

Energy Storage

Maxwell Technologies (Nasdaq:MXWL) introduced its new BOOSTCAP(r) family of ultracapacitor products which will be targeted to applications including robotics and factory automation, uninterruptible power supply systems for industrial and telecom, renewable energy systems (solar and wind), cordless power tools and consumer electronics.


Ballard Power (Nasdaq:BLDP) reported Q3 revenues of $12.3 million, down 30% Y/Y, and a net loss of $15.5 million, or $0.19 per share compared to a net loss of $16 million, or $0.14 per share for the same period last year. Management's guidance for revenues for FY08 is in a range of $58 to $64 million, down from previous guidance of $65 to $75 million. Operating cash consumption for FY08 is expected to be in the upper region of a $20 to $30 million range. It indicated that cash reserves of $57.1 million are sufficient for the foreseeable future and that total product shipments for FY08 are expected to be greater than 1,700 units.

China Ritar Power (OTCBB:CRTP) reported Q3 revenues of $36.3 million, up 30.4% Y/Y, and net income of $2.4 million, or $0.12 per diluted share, as opposed to net income of $3.1 million, or $0.16 per diluted share in the year ago period. Sales from its alternative energy business increase 15% of sales, compared with 6% for the same period last year. In terms of outlook, management expects revenues from batteries used for alternative energy storage to increase to 15% of total sales in 2008 and 25% in 2009, compared with 5% in 2007.

Ener 1 (AMEX:HEV) reported Q3 revenues of 39 thousand, down from $48 thousand in the same period last year, and  a net loss of $9 million, or $0.08 per diluted share, as opposed to a net loss of $11.1 million last year, or $0.16 per diluted share.

Mechanical Technology (Nasdaq:MKTY) reported Q3 revenues of $1.79 million, a decrease from $2.5 million for the same period last year, and a net loss of $4 million, or $0.84, an increase from a net loss of $2.4 million, or $0.52 per share in last year's Q3.

Valence Technology (Nasdaq:VLNC) reported Q2 revenues of $5.8 million, compared with $5.6 million Y/Y, and net loss of $6.2 million, or $0.05 per share, compared to a net loss of $4.9 million, or $0.04 per share last year.


Envent Holding Philippines reported this week that is making progress on surface exploration for its 50MW Biliran geothermal project. The island of Biliran is estimated to have at least 100MW of geothermal energy.


Raser Technologies (NYSE:RZ) reported Q3 revenues of $30 thousand, compared with $49.8 thousand in the same period last year, while its net loss was $7.4 million, or $0.13 per diluted share, compared with a net loss of $3.4 million, or $0.06 per dilute share for the same period last year.


Brazil's national development bank has approved financing for Empresa de Investimentos em Energias Renovais S.A. to construct ten small hydroelectric projects totaling 137 MW.

Brazil utility holding company Energisa S.A. announced it will resume hydropower construction with an investment in three small hydro projects in Rio de Janeiro State.

The government of Tanzania has awarded a contract to an Irish firm to provide engineering and construction supervision of transmission and distribution work and of construction of the 8-MW Malagarasi hydroelectric project on the Malagarasi River.

State-owned Andhra Pradesh Power Generation Corp. has awarded a contract to Alstom Hydro for turnkey supply of equipment to the 240-MW Lower Jurala hydroelectric project on the Krishna River.

Ocean Power

Ocean Power (Nasdaq:OPTT) installed another PowerBuoy(r) wave power generation unit near Kaneohe Bay on Oahu, Hawaii, as part of an ongoing program with the Navy.

Scotland-based wave energy developer Pelamis Wave Power announced it has completed a 5 million pound (US$7.7 million) funding round to support its ongoing investment in wave energy research and development.

While uncertainty about module supplies in 2009 and concerns about customer demand amidst tight credit conditions creating lower expectations about near term performance in the solar industry in most circles, we think that the stage  is set, when the dust does settle, for stronger demand than ever.

Congress' passage of the federal tax credit for solar creates an undeniable framework for long-term growth in the U.S. solar market. Just consider the fact that, today, a $20,000 system would provide for $2,000 in tax credits, but after December 31, under the new legislative framework which covers 30% with no cap, you get $6,000 in tax credits. Add to this the RPS in 27 states and other rebates available, and the economics, even in a recessing economy look attractive and make more sense from an investment perspective and offset to higher energy prices over the long-term.

Add to this the advancements in solar technologies that are increasing cell efficiency and ultimately bringing the industry closer to grid parity. This week we heard about a new anti-reflective technology that increases efficiency of solar panels, from the Future Chips Constellation. The FCC's technology aims to increase the amount of sunlight a panel can absorb from about 66% to 96%.

Meanwhile, spot prices for polysilicon continue to decline in softer demand from the midstream segment. We think that prices will likely continue to remain lower because so much new production and capacity will be coming online in 2010 from existing upstream companies and new entrants to the market from companies like Hoku (Nasdaq:HOKU) and LDK Solar (NYSE:LDK).

Polysilicon from major suppliers is now priced at US$250-300 per kilogram, down from US$400 in October.

Hoku (Nasdaq:HOKU) said it has secured silicon supplies for production of trichlorosilane through a supply agreement with Polymet Alloys.

Ascent Solar (Nasdaq:ASTI) signed a cooperation agreement with TurtleEnergy to focus on developing BIPV (building integrated PV) products for the U.S. residential marketplace. This move is intended to take advantage of wider expected demand in the rooftop market driven by the extension of the ITC.

Energy Conversion Devices (Nasdaq:ENER) announced a multi-year supply agreement for UNI-SOLAR(r) cells with Marcegaglia for use in its integrated roofing products.

Kyocera (NYSE:KYO) is building a large-scale solar cell manufacturing facility in Japan which will produce its Back Contact Cell which achieves 18.5% energy conversion efficiency rates. Construction will start in 2009 with production to begin in the spring of 2010. It plans to double annual production from its current annual volume of 300MW, reaching 650MW of manufacturing output by 2012.

LDK Solar (NYSE:LDK) commented this week on its outlook, saying that as of the end of October, it has secured contracts totaling 1.8GW for 2009, more than 100% of its currently planned output for the year, and that its wafer plant is operating at full capacity in order to meet customer demand and orders. It said its cash position is more than $460 million, and its available unused credit facilities are more than $430 million. The stock sold off down as low as $12.40 this week, on Thursday which is, in our opinion way oversold given its outlook. Today LDK announced it signed a three-year contract to supply 435MW of multicrystalline wafers to BP Solar commencing in 2009. BP Solar will also supply a minimum of 1,680MT of silicon to LDK.

Trina Solar (NYSE:TSL) announced its new Upgraded Metallurgical Grade (UMG) silicon material product line, which will enable it to target demand for lower cost solar module systems. Trina's management said its UMG product is achieving 14% efficiency levels.
Xantrex signed contracts with enXco worth at least $1.5 million to supply commercial three-phase PV inverters for three large-scale projects.


Clear Skies Solar (OTCBB:CSKH) announced the launch of Carbon 612 Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary formed to commercialize its proprietary technologies, starting with its XTRAX(r) system, which is a  PV system energy monitoring system. In our opinion, this is one of the first steps any publicly traded downstream firm has taken to provide any significance to the notion of 'owning the customer' downstream. Open Energy (OTCBB:OEGY) announced last week that it launched its EcoTouch Energy Management System, which is design to help homeowners save and control energy.

We have been commenting for some time now that the real opportunity for the downstream segment is to 'own the customer' through providing additional services after to, or in addition to the solar installation. This is the most practical way, we think, to driving stronger margins and creating a more profitable, sustainable business plan. Akeena (Nasdaq:AKNS) went the wrong way by trying to move upstream with development of its Andalay product line, which has resulted in higher cap ex and wider losses for the business, in a market that is becoming increasingly competitive and commoditized.


Energy Conversion Devices reported Q1 revenues of $95.8 million, up 16% in the prior quarter, and 104% Y/Y. Net income for the Q1 was $12.7 million, or $0.29 per fully diluted share, compared with $9.9 million, or $0.24 per fully diluted share in the prior quarter and a net loss of $7.6 million, or $0.19 per fully diluted share on a Y/Y basis. Gross margin for the Q1 was 34.1%, and the company produced 30.8MW, shipping 29.5MW. In terms of guidance, management expects consolidated revenues for Q2 to be in the range of $100 to $108 million, gross margin on solar product sales to be about 33% and total gross margin to be about 34%, and for the FY09, consolidated revenues are expected to be in a range of $455 to $485 million, with gross margin on solar sales to be about 34% and total gross margin to be about 35%.

ErsSol Solar (ES6.DE) reported Q3 sales of EUR 84.8 million, an increase of 131% Y/Y, and net profit of EUR 15.8 million., an increase of 777% Y/Y.

Q-Cells (QCE.DE) raised its FY2008 outlook and expects sales to be approximately EUR 1.35 billion, up from previous guidance of EUR 1.325 billion with net income guidance of EUR 215 million (previously EUR 200 million), and FY2008 EBIT guidance of about EUR 260 million. It said it expects production volume of more than 1GWp in FY2009 and confirmed its 2009 sales outlook of EUR 2.25 billion.

Tokuyama (4043.T) reported Q2 sales of 169.2 billion yen, an increase from 157.2 billion yen for the same period last year, and operating income of 16.7 billion yen, down from the 20 billion yen for last year's Q2. Management said its poly sales "remained brisk", and its specialty product segment accounted for 34% of total sales.

Solar Power (OTCBB:SOPW) reported Q3 revenues of $19.6 million, an increase of 135% Y/Y, and a net loss of $0.97 million, or $0.03 per diluted share, as opposed to a net loss of $1.4 million, or $0.04 per diluted share last year. Management increased its FY2008 guidance to $48 million from its previously announced guidance of $36 million.


BP Alternative Energy is working on getting approval to build an 87 turbine, 150MW wind facility in Wyoming. It secured approvals in Noxen this week, of which 4,900 acres of its 14,000 acre facility will be located in.

First Wind has begun construction on its Milford Wind Corridor Project, in Milford, Utah, which will generate up to 203MW of energy, and will consist of 97 wind turbines. First Wind has completed a 20-year PPA with the Southern California Public Power Authority.

Gamesa (GTQ1.BE) received a EUR 175 million ($219 million) order from Endesa for 100 wind turbine generators, which will amount to 190MW. Gamesa will be responsible for delivery, start-up, installation, operation and maintenance.

Puget Sound Energy placed an order for 22 wind turbine generators with Vestas for the proposed expansion of its $100 million Wild Horse wind and solar facility. Delivery of the turbines is scheduled for mid-2009. The expansion will result in 149 turbines and 269MW of capacity. The Wild Horse facility currently has 127 turbines capable of producing 229MW of electricity.

Scottish Power confirmed plans to develop wind farms in the UK with capacity of up to 6,000MW in a JV with Vattenfall. Vattenfall said it has purchased rights to develop the UK's largest offshore wind farm (Thanet), which would have the capacity to produce 300MW. The total amount of capital estimated to complete the Thanet project is about GBP 780 million.

Redemptions Killing Broadwind Energy

Reports are surfacing on troubles over at Tontine Partners which are leading to its liquidation of two funds - Tontine Capital and Tontine Partners. Broadwind Energy (OTCBB:BWEN) is an unfortunate victim here, and we looked up Tontine Capital's holdings (indirect) in BWEN as of October, which were more than 27 million shares.

Politics and State Driven News

Steve Westly, CEO of the Westly Group, a clean tech investor in Silicon Valley, is being rumored to be a potential candidate for Obama's Secretary of Energy. Others believed to be in the running include Mark Ginsberg, assistant secretary for energy efficiency at the DOE and Dan Reicher, of

Connecticut has established a fund, Connecticut Clean Tech Fund, which will invest in clean technologies companies. It is being funded with $9 million from Connecticut Innovations, Connecticut Clean Energy Fund and the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

PECO said it is inviting renewable energy producers to submit bids to sell alternative energy credits to help it meet requirements of Pennsylvania's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS). The AEPS requires that by 2011, 3.5% of the energy sold to PECO customers will be comprised of renewable energy sources.

Kentucky's transportation secretary signed an order allowing electric cars to be registered and titled in the state.

Michigan's state legislature is considering a plan introduced b Rep Jeff Mayes (D-Bay City) to create a property tax exemption for homeowners that install renewable energy devices. The plan would begin December 31, 2009.

Oregon's governor Ted Kulongoski is heading to Japan and China this weekend on a trade mission to develop business relationships for his state and in particular, will be discussing Oregon's potential as a testing ground for electric cars from Toyota, BYD and Nissan.

Alliant Energy's bid to build a $1.26 billion coal/biomass unit at an existing power station in Wisconsin was rejected by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin on the basis of it being too expensive relative to existing alternatives. The proposed 300MW unit would have burned coal, switch grass, corn stalks and waste wood.

Finance and M&A

Solix Biofuels raised $10.5 million in a Series A round from investors including I2BF Venture Capital, Bohemian Investments, Southern Ute Alternative Energy LLC, Valero Energy Corp (NYSE:VLO) and Infield Capital. Solix is using the capital to build an algae biofuel facility. The company also received a $5 million follow-on investment to fund a pilot plant on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation.

Atlantic Energy Solutions closed an approximately $10 million transaction with Trafalgar Capital Specialized Investment Fund, with an initial funding of $2.5 million.

Sriya Innovations, which is developing biomass technologies, closed a $15 million round from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which had previously invested $6 million.

PSEG Global sold its majority (85%) interest in Bioenergie, an Italian biomass generation company, to Emmevu Green S.R.L. for about EUR 30 million ($40 million).

Comverge (Nasdaq:COMV) announced a $25 million senior credit facility with Silicon Valley Bank which includes a $15 million term loan to be repaid over 5 years, and a $10 million revolving line of credit with a 3-year term.

PowerSecure (Nasdaq:POWR) expanded its credit facility to $50 million with a syndicate including Citibank, SunTrust Bank, and BB&T. The facility has a 3-year term and enables $70 million of total financing capacity including the ability to lease $20 million of distributed generation equipment under separate lease arrangements.

Upgrades & Downgrades

November 10 - Real Goods Solar (Nasdaq:RSOL) maintained NEUTRAL at Global Hunter Securities with price target reduced from $7.50 to $5.00.

November 10 - Altair Nano (Nasdaq:ALTI) rated BUY at MDB Capital Group.

November 10 - Solar Power (OTCBB:SOPW) maintained NEUTRAL at Global Hunter Securities with price target of $2.00.

November 10 - Canadian Solar (Nasdaq:CSIQ) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Deutsche Securities. Deutsche had previously rated CSIQ a HOLD with a $45 price target (5/14/2008), a $22 price target (3/6/2008) and a $17 price target (11/15/2007)

November 10 - Energy Conversion Devices (Nasdaq:ENER) downgraded to a HOLD from a BUY at Deutsche Securities. Deutsche had previously rated ENER a BUY with a $55 price target (5/9/2008).

November 10 - Satcon (Nassdaq:SATC) initiated at a BUY at MDB Capital Group.

November 10 - Suntech Power (NYSE:STP) rated SELL at Deutsche Securities.

November 10 - First Solar (Nasdaq:FSLR) rated HOLD at Deutsche Securities. Deutsche had previously rated FSLR at a BUY with a price target of $330 (7/31/2008), a price target of $300 (5/1/2008), and a price target of $260 (2/14/2008).

November 10 - GT Solar (Nasdaq:SOLR) rated HOLD at Friedman Billings with price target of $4.

November 10 - Quantum Fuel System Technologies (Nasdaq:QTWW) rated BUY at MDB Capital.

November 11 - Plug Power (Nasdaq:PLUG) rated BUY at Ardour Capital. Ardour had previously rated PLUG a HOLD with a price target of $2.00 (8/7/2008).

November 11 - EnerNOC (Nasdaq:ENOC) rated BUY at Ardour Capital with a price target of $16. Ardour had previously rated ENOC a BUY with a price target of $22 (8/8/2008) and a price target of $21 (4/23/2008).

November 11 - EnerNOC (Nasdaq:ENOC) rated BUY at JMP Securities with a price target of $16. JMP had previously rated ENOC at a BUY with a price target of $35 (2/28/2008) and a price target of $50 (1/16/2008).

November 11 - Fuel Tech (Nasdaq:FTEK) rated HOLD at Lazard Capital.

November 11 - The Andersons (Nasdaq:ANDE) rated HOLD at Wall Street Access.

November 11 - Fuel Tech (Nasdaq:FTEK) rated HOLD at Roth Capital with $9 price target. Roth had previously rated FTEK a HOLD with a price target of $11 (11/4/2008), a price target of $16 (8/12/2008), a price target of $22 (6/26/2008), and a BUY with a price target of $24 (3/5/2008), and a price target of $31 (1/4/2008).

November 11 - Energy Conversion Devices (Nasdaq:ENER) rated HOLD at Ardour Capital with price target of $45. Ardour had previously rated ENER at HOLD with a price target of $68 (8/29/2008) and a price target of $60 (6/4/2008).

November 12 - Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE:ADM) rated BUY at Oppenheimer with price target of $30.

November 12 - MEMC (NYSE:WFR) rated BUY at Ardour Capital with price target of $28.

November 12 - MEMC (NYSE:WFR) rated BUY at Collins Steward with price target of $27.

November 13 - Ener 1 (NYSE:HEV) rated NEUTRAL at Cowen & Company.

November 13 - Energy Recovery (Nasdaq:ERII) rated BUY at Janney Mntgmy Scott. JMS had previously rated ERII at HOLD (8/15/2008).

November 13 - Ascent Solar (Nasdaq:ASTI) rated ACCUMULATE at Ardour Capital with a price target of $8.

November 13 - Suntech Power (NYSE:STP) rated BUY at AmTech Research with a price target of $14. AmTech had previously rated STP at BUY with a $55 price target (5/23/2008), and a $71 price target (2/21/2008).

November 14 - Canadian Solar (Nasdaq:CSIQ) rated BUY at AmTech Research with a price target of $9. AmTech had previously rated CSIQ at BUY with a $23 price target (10/10/2008).

Research and Reports

Renewable Energy in Ireland - 2008 Report Focus on Wind Energy and Biofuels

This report examines the contribution made by renewable energy to Ireland's energy requirements for the period 1990 to 2007 with a particular focus on production data in 2007 and capacity data and relevant policy developments in 2007 and, where available, 2008. This update should be read in conjunction with a report published in August 2004 entitled, Renewable Energy in Ireland Trends and Issues 1990 - 20021. This is the third in a planned series of updates and follows Renewable Energy in Ireland 2007 Update.

The biofuels segment continues to unravel, closing down 22%. Unlike the other groups we track in this newsletter, we remain totally bearish on the U.S. biofuels market. The economics just don't make sense at this point, and it remains absolutely unclear how big producers will have to get to where a "price maker" status will actually provide stability to the model. On the other hand, we remain bullish on Brazilian biofuels.

The market dynamics are extremely different and more advantageous than the U.S. Companies operate on a vertically integrated model, thereby enabling them to control their inputs more effectively, and the internal demand in the Brazilian market is sufficiently strong so as not to require government subsidy to compete at the pump. Last year about 3 million cars were sold in Brazil and about 85% of them were flex fuel. Importantly, the flex fuel component of the entire fleet of vehicles in Brazil is only about 5%. So there is a long-term growth driver in place. And then there is the feedstock, sugarcane, which is much more efficient than corn, and the fact that there is plenty of agricultural room for expansion without violating the rainforest and other land needed to grow food. This is exactly why companies like Archer Daniels Midland, and investors like Khosla are staking claims in the Brazilian market.

Another region that we think is extremely compelling, although the economics and feedstock issues are still being worked out, is China. Nowhere in the world does the growth proposition look more attractive. Consider the fact that currently China is the second largest automotive market in the world, and it only has 2% penetration amongst consumers. Companies that we are following in this sector include Gushan (NYSE:GU) and China Bio Energy (OTCBB:CBEH).

The energy management and energy efficiency group closed down 11% this week with only Power Efficiency (OTCBB:PEFF) closing in positive territory. We noted a recent agreement PEFF entered into this week with IXYS that is an important channel relationship for its single phase product into the appliance market. Year-to-date, this group is down 72%, and the problem for most of these companies is getting to profitability.

The energy storage group closed down 19% this week, with no companies managing to post a gain. Altair Nano (Nasdaq:ALTI) led the group down, shedding 37% of its market cap. We remain skeptical about whether the company is going to ever be able to get its revenue and path to profitability moving in the right direction. On the other hand, Ultralife Batteries (Nasdaq:ULBI) has been holding up well in the current environment, and the only thing holding it back, in our opinion from moving higher is the outlook for 2009, which, unless management adjusts guidance, will be a step backwards over a really strong FY2008. We also remain bullish on Hydrogenics (Nasdaq:HYGS), Maxwell Technologies (Nasdaq:MXWL) and Quantum Fuel Systems (Nasdaq:QTWW). 

The geothermal segment closed down 16% this week, with only Ormat (NYSE:ORA) closing in positive territory. The group continues to suffer from deteriorating conditions in the credit markets which are critical to getting projects planned and financed. Year-to-date the group is down 65%. 

Another down week for the upstream solar segment, shedding 13% more of their collective market capitalization. Only Tokuyama (4043.T) managed to close in positive territory, up 8% but we don't know why, since its' financial results reported this week weren't too impressive. Year-to-date, the group is down 52%. 

The midstream segment got blown out again this week, losing 24%. Only ErSol Solar (ES6.DE) held on to positive territory, closing up 1%. We continue to be amazed by the quality companies in this group that are getting sold off with companies that are legitimately challenged by weaker balance sheets, declining margins and a tougher overall operating environment. LDK Solar (NYSE:LDK) is our top pick in this group. Here is our quick analysis:  the stock is trading at 0.85x this year's forecasted sales, and 0.53x FY2009 forecasted sales; and it is trading at 4.73x this year's forecasted earnings and 2.63x next year's forecasted earnings. This is remarkable, given the business' fundamentals and outlook! At a modest 10x P/E against this year's forecasted earnings, the stock would be trading at $30. At a 7x P/S against next year's forecasted earnings, the stock would be trading at $38.00. We think these multiples are extremely defensible, and are calling for the stock to climb back to a multiple of 13x P/E as the markets stabilize at some point by mid-2009. This would put us at a projected price target within 12-months of $70.

We think there are several instances in the midstream group where similar arguments can be made, and concerns about module oversupply and tighter credit markets are way overdone at this point.

The downstream segment closed down 11% this week, led by Akeena Solar (Nasdaq:AKNS) and Conergy (CGY.DE). Akeena's stock plummet isn't surprising to us in light of the fact that it continues to widen its losses. Conergy's stock is taking a hit because it is readying to dilute investors to the tune of EUR 399.3 million ($506.5 million), or 363 million shares at EUR 1.10 per share. This is bad news to Conergy investors. We would expect that the group may also be getting pressure based on the fact that the incentive to purchase solar systems is far greater after December 31, when there is no cap on the ITC as opposed to the current $2,000 cap. Here is what we mean:

As part of the $700 billion bailout package, Congress passed a revamped version of the federal tax credit for solar energy on Oct. 3. The current credit, which expires at the end of the year, credits owners with 30 percent of the cost of the system but caps the amount at $2,000. The new credit, which will takes effect Jan. 1 and lasts through 2016, covers 30 percent of the cost but there is no cap.

In other words, if a homeowner had waited till next year to build his $20,000 system, he would have received $6,000 in tax credits rather than the $2,000 he received. That would have helped his bottom line and reduced the time to pay off the system, which he estimates will be 27 years.

If things are bad in other places of the solar industry, they are darkest in the solar equipment space, which lost 36% this week. We get why Spire (Nasdaq:SPIR) sold off. Suspending planned releases of financial results in this market is an ominous sign. But on the other hand, GT Solar (Nasdaq:SOLR) just came off an impressive quarter and is trading at a ridiculously low, if not pessimistic valuation. For a company with revenue growth last year of 306% and expected revenue growth this year of 158%, and expected net income growth of 171%, we think this stock is way oversold. In terms of our valuation and price targets for the stock, we think that given the company's impressive growth rate and market opportunity, a 1.5x current year price-to-sales and a 10x current year price-to-earnings matrix is absolutely defensible. That would give us an implied trading range for the stock between $6.60 and $6.80, or at least 144% to the upside from today's close. 

The wind sector closed down 17% this week, led by Composite Technology (CPTC.OB) which lost 30% of its market cap. The group suffers from the same concerns that so much of the other capital intensive renewable energy sectors are suffering from. Most of the wind related headlines this week focused on the fact that T Boone is "stalling" his wind farm project and the Street has undoubtedly been looking at Pickens' stalled plan as indicative of the broader market dynamic. 

About Aspire Clean Tech Communications, Inc.

Based in San Diego, Aspire Clean Tech Communications is dedicated to providing strategic consulting and communications services to businesses operating in the alternative energy and clean tech industries. Our commentary and outlook on the public markets and the alternative energy can be found on a daily basis at

For more information about Aspire Clean Tech Communications, Inc., contact Todd M. Pitcher at 858-518-1387.

This Aspire Week in Review was sponsored by Comanche Clean Energy, Inc., a leading Brazilian ethanol and biofuel firm bringing the lowest cost and most efficient alternative energy solutions to the world, and Hayden Communications, Inc., Wall Street's leading corporate communications firm. For more information about Hayden Communications, call 646-536-7331, for more information about Comanche Clean Energy; contact Todd M. Pitcher at 858-518-1387.

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