Aspire Week in Review - Week Ended November 7, 2008

Nov 07, 2008
Author: Administrator

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Obama's win this week bodes well for the alternative energy and clean tech industry, and will provide a much needed level of commitment to key issues of climate change and energy independence that have been jawboned by the outgoing administration for the past eight years.

To be sure, with an economy in shambles and with massive debt weighing on Obama's White House at the outset of his administration, he will be challenged to find fiscal resources to enact his energy policy at will. But what is also certain is that he has the will to pursue it and the understanding that investing in and support renewable energy and clean technology will create jobs which is fundamental to getting the economy back on track. At least this is what we believe.

And for all of the rhetoric about moving away from Middle Eastern oil, which at this point, seems a trivially accepted truth, the Middle East is making some pretty impressive and aggressive strides to position its economies for the next generation of energy as well:

Just this week, Abu-Dhabi's Masdar and the British government signed an agreement to collaborate on development of renewable energy and clean technologies. And UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that £150 million has been secured for the Qatar-UK Clean Technology Investment Fund from the Qatar Investment Authority. The fund, which will invest up to £250 million, will be managed by the Carbon Trust. Dubai welcomed the first fully electronic cars to its roads this week, as part of its 'Green Car' program.

The Moroccan National Electricity Office announced plans for a five-year, $2.9 to $3.2 billion renewable development initiative to accelerate development of renewable energy in the country. The initiative will run from 2009 through 2014.

Finland set targets this week to reign in its power consumption and to increase renewable energy to meet EU goals for 2020. It intends to increase the share of renewable energy to 38% of output in 2020 from 29% now.  And South Africa's National Energy Regulator said it will announce a renewable energy feed-in tariff on February 28. The proposed tariff schedule shows a contribution of 50c/kWh to 80c/kWh for all renewable energy generated.  Its Department of Minerals and Energy set a target of 10,000GWh or electricity to be generated from renewable energy by 2013.

The Indian state of Haryana announced plans to invest Rs 3,777 crore ($777 million) to increase its renewable energy contribution to 10%. It has targeted Rs 240 crore for 12MW of projects and is still finalizing 37 other projects which will run Rs 3,527 crore which break out to 24 biomass plants for 258MW costing Rs 1,060 crore, 4 wind projects costing Rs 2,205 crore with a capacity of 440MW and three hydropower projects with a total of 4.8MW capacity.

The U.N.'s climate chief Yvo de Boer said today that developed companies need to speed up the transfer of clean energy technology to developing nations to deal with global warming. De Boer also said the process of negotiating a climate change treaty to transition from the Kyoto Protocol in 2012 will begin at a U.N. conference on global warming in Poland next month.

"Given their historical responsibility for the problem it is essential that industrialized countries take the lead to reduce emissions and that they show real leadership. With President-elect (Barack) Obama, my hope is that the U.S. can take on a leadership role and take the negotiations forward," he added.

Biofuels and Biomass

Biomass Gas & Electric has proposed building a 40MW power plant on Florida State University land which will convert wood waste and pulp mill byproducts into gas which will be burned to produce electricity.

Eco2 secured planning permission for a £80 million, 40MW straw-powered biomass power plant in Lincolnshire.

MGPI Ingredients (Nasdaq:MGPI) said it is going to stop producing wheat proteins and starches at its Pekin, Illinois plant and will reduce its work force there b about 40. It also is cutting back on fuel-grade alcohol production at the plant. The restructuring will result in a noncash charge of about $6.9 million in write downs for the quarter ended December 31.

Simbhaoli Sugars (SSL) is commencing operations on its  21.9 million liters per year Uttar Pradesh ethanol plant later this month. 

Stora Enso is investing EUR 137 million into building a new power plant in Poland, which is focused on increasing biofuel usage.

A day after VeraSun (NYSE:VSE) launched a CH11 petition for relief to enhance liquidity while it reorganizes. It received a $215 million funding commitment in DIP financing to pay bills after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, from AgStar Financial Services. VeraSun will be able to borrow $40 million of the funds to keep its doors open. This is good news for the company, but bad news for the investors that have been bled dry investing in this stock, which closed at $0.28 yesterday, down from $15.56 at the beginning of the year. DIP financings typically wipe the capitalization slate clean to prepare for the DIP financiers and when the company does resurface, it does so with a whole new cap structure.

On the heels of, and in response to the VeraSun announcement, Goldman Sachs announced that it is dropping coverage on the ethanol sector.

In Minnesota, Governor Pawlenty announced $3 million in state grants from the Next Generation Energy Board to accelerate the development of renewable energy projects and advanced biofuels in the state.

Eight developing nations warned the EU this week that they may file a WTO complaint against unfair barriers against their biofuels. The complaints come from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Malawi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Indonesia and Malaysia, and are focused on the EU Commissions recent proposals to include tough eco-standards for biofuels. The developing countries maintain that the standards would prohibit expansion of agriculture into wild areas, which the Europeans have already done.


Despite the fact that Brazil's biofuels market is mature, proven and driven by strong internal trends such as the emergence of the flex fuel vehicle market, the industry has not been immune to the credit crisis and currency devaluation which has created headwinds. This week Brazil's national center for sugar and ethanol (CEISE) reported that its sugar and ethanol mills have canceled about 22% of orders for machinery and equipment purchases for 2008-2009.

Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE:ADM) announced plans to enter the Brazilian market through a $500 million JV with Grupo Cabrera. ADM has been active in the Brazil market already, producing soybean-based biodiesel in the country. The JV with Grupo Cabrera will produce 70 million to 90 million gallons of ethanol per year, and the $500 million investment will be spread out over seven years.

Jamaica's Minister of Energy announced that he is heading to Brazil to see if he can get input from its biofuels industry how Jamaica can improve its situation. Last weekend, the Ministry of Energy and the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica introduced E10 fuel to the Jamaican marketplace.

And representatives of China's Henan Province have signed an agreement with the state of Sao Paulo to give its scientists access to research institute Centro de Cana, part of Sao Paulo's Agronomic Institute, for cooperation on biofuels. Centro de Cana has launched 15 new varieties of sugarcane over the past decade.


The Andersons (Nasdaq:ANDE) announced Q3 revenues of $906 million, up from $554 million in revenues for the same period last year. Net income for the quarter was $12.8 million, or $0.70 per share on a fully diluted basis, as opposed to net income of $10.6 million, or $0.58 per share last year. Management's guidance for the year is $3.50 to $4.00 per diluted share.

Archer Daniels Midland reported Q1 revenues of $21.16 billion, an increase of 65% Y/Y, and net earnings of $1.05 billion, or $1.63 per share, up 138% Y/Y.

Metabolix (Nasdaq:MBLX) reported Q3 revenues of $351 thousand, up from $180 thousand Y/Y, and a net loss of $9.7 million, or $0.42 per share basic and diluted, as opposed to a net loss of $8.2 million, or $0.37 per share for the same period last year. 

Clean Tech and Carbon Markets

The German government plans to eliminate taxes on new cars sold with low greenhouse gas emissions for the first two years of ownership. Eventually, the plan would evolve into a sliding scale with the tax pegged to the level of carbon emissions the car emits. The plan is being criticized by environmentalists who argue that the tax exemption is too loose, and that it is a purchase incentive for cars that are not climate-friendly.

An International Energy Agency report which is scheduled to be released next week says that the EU's goal for limiting global warming of the planet to no more than 2 degrees Celsius may not be technically feasible. In which case, we may have to prepare for the implications and effects of a warmer global climate. A United Nations panel on climate change recently said that above 3 degrees hundreds of millions of people would be exposed to increased water stress.

Research firm McKinsey reports that by 2020, the manufacture, distribution and usage of IT infrastructure could reach 3% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions.

Electric Vehicles

Electrovaya (EFL.TO) and Changan Automobile Group, Ford's China partner, are rolling out 30 electric cars in Canada before the end of the year.

Fisker Automotive said this week that an Arbitrator issued an interim awarding finding in favor of Fisker Coachbuild, LLC, Fisker Automotive, Henrik Fisker and Bernhard Koehler and against Tesla Motors on all claims made by Tesla. Management said it is still on track to deliver its first production vehicle, the Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid, 4-door luxury sports sedan by the Q4, 2009.

Tesla announced that it has secured $40 million in convertible debt financing from several current investors. Founder and CEO Elon Musk iterated that $40 million is more than the company currently needs but that it is important to buttress its balance sheet.

ZAP (ZAAP.OB) is debuting its redesigned Xebra EV at the Sacramento International Auto Show.

Energy Demand Management and the Smart Grid

Echelon (Nasdaq:ELON) announced that the Group of Electricity Distributors in France selected its Networked Energy Services (NES) system for up to 90,000 homes. The project was awarded to Echelon's partner Alter Way, and is expected to being within the next few months to be completed by 2013.

Enersource Hydro Mississauga has entered into an agreement with Elster to complete the deployment of smart metering in Mississauga using the EnergyAxis(r) system. 

Laclede Electric Co-op said it intends to deploy an advanced metering system as step one in its smart grid initiative. It will begin deployment of Itron's (Nasdaq:ITRI) CENTRON meters this fall with full implementation expected within 24 months.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved a series of rate incentives for Pepco Holdings' proposed 230-mile Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway (MAPP) project which will provide access to more than 1,300MW of renewable wind generation in the western portion of the PJM interconnection region and will be operated as a "smart grid." The project is expected to cost $1.05 billion and Pepco will be responsible for $950 million of it.


Echelon reported Q3 revenues of $29.5 million, compared to $24.7 million for the same period last year, and a net loss of $5.4 million, or $0.13 per share compared to a net loss of $5.7 million, or $0.14 per share last year. Gross margin improved for the quarter to 44.7% from 40.4% on a Y/Y basis. Management guided revenue for the Q4  in a range of $36 to $38 million, with Non-GAAP gross margin in a range of 39% to 40%. Non-GAAP loss per share is expected to be in a range of $0.06 to $0.08 per share.

Orion Energy Systems (Nasdaq:OESX) reported revenue of $18.8 million for the Q3, up 2% Y/Y and net income of $0.45 million,  or earnings per share of $0.02 on a fully diluted basis as opposed to net income of $1.1 million, or earnings per share of $0.05 on a fully diluted basis for the same period last year. Management revised its FY09 revenue guidance to flat to 9% Y/Y growth to be between $81 and $88 million, and its FY09 EPS guidance to a range of $0.06 and $0.11 per diluted share.

PowerSecure (Nasdaq:POWR) reported Q3 revenues of $33.6 million, up 27.9% Y/Y, and net income of $2.9 million, or $0.17 per diluted share, compared with net income of $2.6 million, or $0.14 per diluted share for the same period last year. The company's backlog at September 30, 2008 was $97 million.

Energy Efficiency

The Department of Energy (DOE) and National Renewable Energy Laboratory release reports to show a 50% energy savings in commercial retail buildings with further recommendations.

Energy Storage

Hydrogenics (Nasdaq:HYGS) was awarded a contract to deliver two hydrogen powered fuel cell buses to Vestiche Strassenbahnen GmbH, marking the eighth and ninth hydrogen buses delivered as replacements in the European market.


Altair Nano (Nasdaq:ALTI) reported Q3 revenues of $1.8 million, down from $3.37 million for the same period last year, and a net loss of $9.11 million, or $0.11 per share, compared to a net loss of $6.13 million, or $0.09 per share last year. Cash and cash equivalents are $23.73 million, down from $50.15 million at December 31, 2007. Management said that the company has sufficient cash to get it through 2010, but based on the widening of losses and the fact that the company burned through $26 million in the first nine months we are skeptical.

Enersys (NYSE:ENS) reported Q3 revenues of $526.8 million, up 14% Y/Y, and net earnings of $25.2 million, or $0.50 per share, up 50% Y/Y. Management expects adjusted diluted net earnings for Q3 to be in a range of $0.40 and $0.44.

Greatbatch (NYSE:GB) reported Q3 revenues of $136.2 million, up 72% Y/Y, and adjusted earnings per share on a fully diluted basis of $0.44, an increase from $0.30 sequentially and from $0.29 from the year ago period.

Hydrogenics (Nasdaq:HYGS) reported Q3 revenues of $11 million, up 53% Y/Y, and a net loss of $3.7 million, a decrease of 42% from the net loss of $6.5 posted in the same period last year. Order backlog as of the end of the quarter was $26.2 million, and management intimated that it expects to recognize more than 40% of that backlog as revenue in the Q4.

Maxwell Technologies (Nasdaq:MXWL) reported Q3 revenue of $21.7 million, up 53% on a Y/Y basis, and a net loss of $5.7 million, or $0.27 per share, compared to a loss of $2.6 million, or $0.13 per share last year. Gross margin improved to 30% for the quarter from 24% last year.


Raser Technologies (NYSE:RZ) announced that Prudential Capital Group has purchased the permanent debt financing for its 10MW Thermo geothermal power plant near Beaver, Utah from the original project financier.

Greenearth Energy said it has started exploring the Bellarine Peninsula of Australia for heat sources for geothermal projects.

RWE Innogy obtained permits for two deep geothermal projects in Oberallgau, Germany. It plans to invest $44 million into developing the projects.


Calpine (NYSE:CPN) reported revenues of $3.2 billion for the Q3, up 37% Y/Y. Net income increased to $134 million. The company provided adjusted EBITDA guidance for 2008 of $1.650 to $1.675 billion.

Ormat (NYSE:ORA) reported Q3 revenues of $99.7 million, up 25.5% Y/Y and net income of $15.9 million, or $0.35 per share (basic and diluted) compared to net income of $15.8 million, or $0.41 per share (basic and diluted) for the same period last year.


The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has certified incremental generation at the 193-MW Haas-Kings River project in California and additional incremental generation at the 29.08-MW Piney project in Pennsylvania for renewable energy production tax credits.

Brazilian construction company OAS said studies show Peru's proposed 1,500-MW Inambari hydroelectric project can be increased in size to 2,500 MW, and the development consortium doubled its proposed investment to US$5 billion. Brazil federal utility Furnas Centrais Eletricas S.A. has submitted an environmental report to the Inter-American Development Bank as part of the utility's request for a loan to rehabilitate three Brazil hydroelectric projects totaling 2,742 MW.

Spanish utility Union Fenosa seeks bids to build and equip the 50-MW Torito hydroelectric project on the Reventazon River in northeastern Costa Rica.

Chile's water regulator has denied a request by Centrales Hidroelectricas de Aysen S.A. for additional water rights that would enable the developer to reduce the area to be inundated by the proposed five-plant, 2,750-MW Aysen hydroelectric complex.

Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province seeks bids from consultants for management, design, and supervision of the 11.5-MW Ranolia Khwar hydroelectric project in NWFP. Pakistan's Water and Power Development Authority extended for a sixth time the deadline for pre-qualification in three solicitations to build and equip the 4,500-MW Basha hydroelectric project on Pakistan's Indus River. And the OPEC Fund for International Development has approved US$30 million in financing to assist construction of Pakistan's 106-MW Golen Gol hydroelectric project on the Golen Gol River.

Societa Elettrica Altoatesina, the local utility of Italy's Bolzano Province, has made agreements with two major Italian utilities, Edison SpA and Enel Produzione, to operate existing hydroelectric projects in Bolzano totaling more than 1,000 MW.


Blue Square Energy announced it has produced a 14.6% efficient solar cell leveraging its patent-pending Bright Point technology, on upgraded metallurgical grade (UMG) silicon. The results were verified independently by the National Renewable Laboratory.

Wacker Chemie AG announced a supply agreement with Yingli (NYSE:YGE) from 2010 through 2017 that is expected to allow Yingli to produce about 380MW of PV modules over the life of the agreement.

Hyundai Heavy Industries announced a $40 million deal with MHH Solartechnik to provide solar modules scheduled for delivery next year.

Panasonic Corp is negotiating to purchase Sanyo, reportedly motivated by Sanyo's rechargeable battery business and its solar business (it is the 7th largest solar cell maker).

ReneSola (NYSE:SOL) raised its Q3 2008 guidance to a range of $210 to $220 million, and estimates production output guidance to a range of 100MW to 103MW, compared to previously issued guidance of 90MW to 95MW. It also said it secured additional credit lines of approximately RMB 2.8 billion in aggregate. It said has recently completed and commissioned 90MW of multicrystalline ingot and wafer capacity and 35MW of monocrystalline ingot and wafer capacity on schedule, bringing its annualized monocrystalline ingot and wafer production capacity to 325MW and annualized multicrystalline ingot and wafer production capacity to 250MW. It expects to achieve capacity expansion to 645MW in annualized ingot production capacity and 585MW in annualized wafer production capacity by the end of 2008.

SolFocus won a contract worth $103 million to supply more than 10MW of CPV modules to EMPE Solar for a project being developed in Spain which will be the largest deployment of CPV technology in Europe.

Suniva has begun production on its 32MW monocrystalline solar cell production line in Norcross, Georgia, and it plans to install a second fab line next year that will double capacity. After completion of the new line, Suniva will have total production capacity of 96MW. Management said its current contracts total more than $1 billion.

Yingli is supplying solar modules with a total output of 36.8MW to S.A.G. Solarstrom AG, starting in 2009, and will provide further modules at short notice on a purchase option basis.

Spire (Nasdaq:SPIR) announced a contract from the Department of Energy to develop a microcrack detection technique for silicon solar cells and wafers intended to reduce cost and improve reliability of PV module production.


Chevron Energy Solutions is designing and constructing a 4MW solar project at the Los Angeles Southwest College campus that will have 2MW arrays mounted on five carport structures, 1MW integrated on building rooftops and 1MW on ground-mounted arrays with tracking systems. LASC is asking for the California Solar Initiative Program for a $1.4 million financial incentive over a five year period which will be used to offset the cost of the system over the five-year period. Phoenix Solar (PS4.DE) built a 2.3MW PV system on the roofs of EvoBus GmbH in Nue-Ulm for SEEs Energy. And Suntech (NYSE:STP) completed a 238kwp solar array installation at a California Institute of Technology parking structure.

Conergy (CGY.DE) said uncertainty in the global economy and changes in strategic direction have caused LG Electronics to end its negotiations with Conergy for an acquisition in a majority stake of its solar module production in Frankfurt.

Solar Power (OTCBB:SOPW) executed a Yes! Solar franchise agreement with Trade Dimensions of Pleasanton, California


Solarworld (SWV.DE) reported a preliminary Q3 increase of 67.3% in EBIT to 90.7 million euros. Sales were up 47.2% to 238.3 million euros. Management said it expects to grow 2009 profit and sales by 25 to 30%.

SunPower (Nasdaq:SPWRA) cut its Q4 profit guidance on a stronger dollar against the euro. Management said it now expects Q4 revenue of $388 million to $418 million and net income of $0.24 to $0.31 per share, or $0.58 to $0.65 on an adjusted basis. For FY2009, it expects the impact of a stronger dollar will be about $50 million in revenue and $0.50 to adjusted earnings per share, resulting in profit of at least $1.68 per share on revenue ranging from $2 to $2.1 billion. On an adjusted basis, it expects earnings of at least $3 per share in FY09.

Akeena Solar (Nasdaq:AKNS) reported Q3 revenues of $10.6 million, up 31% Y/Y, driven by stronger growth in commercial installations with a downtick in residential over the prior year. Gross profit was 12.7% and the company reported a net loss for Q3 of $5.5 million, or $0.19 per share, compared to a net loss of $3.7 million, or $0.16 per share last year. Installations for the quarter were about 1,290kw compared to about 989kw for the same period last year, and about 854kw in the previous quarter. Backlog as of September 30, 2008 was $16.7 million. Management expects 2008 revenue to increase by 30% to 40% over FY2007.

Real Goods Solar (Nasdaq:RSOL) reported Q3 revenues of $10.3 million, up 141% from $4.3 million reported for the same period last year. Gross profit was 27.2% and the company reported a net loss for the Q3 of $0.2 million, compared to a net loss of $0.1 million last year. In both periods net loss per share was $0.01.

GT Solar (Nasdaq:SOLR) reported Q2 revenues of $140.2 million, up 71% Y/Y, and gross profit of 43.8%, which increased from 36.2% Y/Y. Net income for the Q2 was $27.9 million, , or $0.19 per share, compared with $17.1 million, or $0.12 per share for the same period last year. The company increased its backlog for the quarter to $1.4 billion, up from $1.26 billion at the end of the first quarter. Management guided for the Q3 for revenues in the range of $190 to $200 million, with earnings per share between $0.23 and $0.25 on a fully diluted basis. It updated its annual revenue guidance for the year to a range of $575 to $650 million, and maintained previous EPS guidance in a range of $0.70 to $0.75. It also updated operating margins to a range of 27% to 30% from a previously guided range of 25% to 28%.

Satcon (Nasdaq:SATC) reported Q3 revenue of $18.5 million, up from $17.4 million for the same period last year. Gross margin was 18.9% compared with 12.4% Y/Y, and net loss was $3.0 million, or $0.06 per share. The company had cash and equivalents at September 27, 2008 of $10.5 million, compared with $9.8 million at June 28, 2008. Backlog increased over this period to $39 million from $30 million.


Acciona is building its first wind farm in Canela, Chile, investing $200 million to develop 70MW of energy.

BP Alternative Energy pulled out of its partnership with Goldwind, China's largest maker of wind turbines, to develop wind farms with planned capacity of 148.5MW in Inner Mongolia. In addition it has dropped plans to build an offshore wind farm in the U.K. The company is turning its focus on the U.S. market which offers a more compelling subsidy/tax support system and more opportunityfor growth than the U.K.

Duke Energy has begun commercial operations of its 59MW Ocotillo wind farm in Texas, and a 30MW wind farm in Wyoming. Duke has set a goal of having 500MW of wind energy in service by the end of 2008, and reports to be on track to hit its goal, as well as its goal to have 5,000MW in the pipeline by year end.

enXco and Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) announced plans to develop 351MW of wind power in Minnesota and North Dakota by the end of 2011 - the 201MW Nobles Wind Project in southwestern Minnesota and the 150MW Merricourt Wind Project in southeastern North Dakota.

Vestas (VSW.DE) announced the opening of an Asian R&D center in Singapore, which is the first stage of its plan to invest up to $500 million in the center to advance research in wind power technologies.

We Energies has asked Wisconsin state regulators to approve a plan that will cost up to $69 million to comply with state renewable energy targets by 2015. It is going to need to spend $45 million on down payments or reservation fees for wind turbines and $21 million for sites for renewable energy projects, as well as $3 million on a study to examine the feasibility of building a 20MW wind power demo project on Lake Michigan.


American Superconductor (Nasdaq:AMSC) - the company reported second quarter results this morning of $40.4 million in revenue, up 87% Y/Y, and a net loss of $4.1 million, or $0.10 per share, compared to a loss of $6.7 million, or $0.17 per share last year. Its backlog as of September 30, was $597 million. Management's FY2008 forecast is a range of $175 million to $185 million and a net loss of $13 million to $15 million.

Otter Tail (Nasdaq:OTTR) announced Q3 revenues of $352.9 million, up from $302.2 million Y/Y and net income of $9.6 million, or $0.31 per share, compared with $13.3 million, or $0.44 per share Y/Y. Management revised its FY08 earnings guidance to a range of $1.05 to $1.30 from its previously announced range of $1.25 to $1.50.

Vestas reported Q3 earnings before interest and tax of 160 million euros ($206 million), up from 102 million euros. It expects an EBIT margin of 10 to 12% on sales of 5.7 billion euros this year and for its market share to increase to 25%. For 2009 it expects sales of 7.2 billion euros and an EBIT margin of 11 to 13%.


California's Prop 7 and 10 initiatives where shot down this week. The criticism of Prop 7 was that it was poorly written, locking in loopholes for utility compliance and excluding smaller renewable energy providers which would have actually made it more difficult to bring renewable energy to California. Prop 10, backed and heavily promoted by Boone Pickens, would have required $5 billion in bonds to be floated for rebates to purchasers of natural gas vehicles, and was estimated to cost as much as $10 billion after everything was said and done.

Florida's new House Bill 7135 calls for recycling 75% of its waste by 2020. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection will present a plan to achieve this goal by January 1, 2010.

Missouri's voters approved the Missouri Clean Initiative in this week's election, which requires investor-owned utilities to employ 15% renewable energy sources in their total output by 2021.

The Nevada Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Task Force has approved several renewable energy projects for rebates (962 applications in all) - of which 896 were for solar, 86 were for wind and 7 were for hydroelectric power. Of the applications submitted, 726 were from residential customers, 85 were from small businesses, 98 from public agencies and 46 were from schools. Rebates range from $2.30 to $4.60 per watt for solar installations, while wind and hydro programs can get up to $2.50 per watt.

Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection rolled out a media campaign this week on the heels of Obama's election victory posing the question "Now what?" The group is pushing for immediate investments in three energy areas that it believes will help meet Gore's energy challenge to produce 100% clean electricity in 10 years.

The plan calls for immediate investment into energy efficiency, renewable power generation (wind, solar and geothermal) and the creation of a national smart grid.

Finance and M&A

Conduit Capital Partners LLC, a New York-based equity investment firm, has acquired a 50 percent ownership stake in GLEP Energias Renovaveis e Participacoes S/A, a privately owned company in Brazil that develops and holds interest in small hydropower projects.

Monsanto (NYSE:MON) is acquiring Brazil-based Aly Participaceos, which operates sugarcane breeding and technology companies CanaVialis S.A. - the world's largest private sugarcane breeding company - and Alellyx S.A. - a developer of biotech traits mainly for sugarcane.

Martifer SGPS SA confirmed its planned sale of its 22.48% stake in REpower Systems AG to Suzlon Energy.

EnerG2 closed an $8.5 million found of Series A financing, led by OVP Venture Partner and Firelake Capital Management. The company is developing novel materials for applications including gas storage, hydrogen storage, more efficient solar cells and "ultracapacitors" to replace traditional batteries.

Ultralife Batteries (Nasdaq:ULBI) is acquiring U.S. Energy Systems for $2.85 million in cash and a performance-based equity incentive payable in an amount up to 200,000 unregistered shares of its common stock based on milestones hit over the next four years.

FTL Solar said it is finalizing $15 million of $40 million round of financing from Terra Firma Capital and other undisclosed investors.

SmartSynch, a provider of smart grid intelligence solutions for the utility industry, completed its acquisition of Applied Mesh Technologies. Terms were not disclosed. SmartSynch has reportedly raised around $80 million in total VC funding since 2000, from firms like Battelle Ventures, Beacon Group, Credit Suisse, Endeavor Capital Management, GulfSouth Capital, Innovation Valley

Partners, Kinetic Ventures, OPG Ventures and Siemens Venture Capital.

Camco International acquired a 49% stake in ESD Sinosphere, adding to its previously acquired 51% stake in ESDS, which specializes in the provision of technical due diligence, emissions assessments, carbon management and sustainable development consulting services.  The acquisition is intended to buttress its presence in the China carbon market.

Upgrades and Downgrades

November 3 - Calgon Carbon Corp. (NYSE:CCC) rated BUY at Brean Murray with price target of $20. Brean Murray had previously rated CCC a BUY with a price target of $24 (8/27/2008) and $25 (7/31/2008) and at a HOLD (2/25/2008).

November 3 - Calgon Carbon Corp. (NYSE:CCC) updated to BUY from HOLD at BB&T Capital Markets.

November 3 - Canadian Solar (Nasdaq:CSIQ) rated SELL at Barclay's Capital with price target of $8.

November 4 - Akeena Solar (Nasdaq:AKNS) rated BUY at Kaufman Brothers with price target of $6. Kaufman had previously rated AKNS a BUY with a price target of $12 (5/28/2008).

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

November 4 - Maxwell Technologies (Nasdaq:MXWL) was upgraded to ACCUMULATE at Ardour Capital. Ardour had previously rated MXWL HOLD with a $13 price target (8/7/2008) and a BUY with a $15 price target (5/8/2008).

November 5 - Emcore (Nasdaq:EMKR) rated HOLD at Merriman Curhan Ford.

November 5 - American Superconductor (Nasdaq:AMSC) rated BUY at Ardour Capital with price target of $30. Ardour had previously rated AMSC at BUY with a price target of $48 (8/6/2008), $53 (6/11/2008) and $40 (5/12/2008).

November 5 - American Superconductor (Nasdaq:AMSC) rated HOLD at Jefferies & Co. with price target of $17. Jefferies had previously rated AMSC at HOLD with price target of $48 (6/11/2008) and $35 (5/9/2008) and at BUY with price target of $33 (11/5/2007).

November 5 - SunPower (Nasdaq:SPWRA) rated HOLD at Credit Suisse with price target of $47.

November 5 - SunPower (Nasdaq:SPWRA) rated MARKET PERFORM at Janco Partners. Janco had previously rated SPWRA at BUY with a price target of $60 (10/17/2008).

November 6 - Enersys (NYSE:ENS) rated HOLD at Jefferies with a price target of $35.

November 6 - Metabolix (Nasdaq:MBLX) downgraded to HOLD at Ardour Capital with price target of $9. Ardour had previously rated MBLX at a BUY with a price target of $16 (5/8/2008).

November 6 - Suntech Power (NYSE:STP) downgraded to NEUTRAL at Merriman Curhan Ford. MFC had previously rated STP at BUY (10/23/2007).

November 6 - SunPower (Nasdaq:SPWRA) rated Buy at AmTech Research with $56 price target.

November 6 - SunPower (Nasdaq:SPWRA) rated BUY at Stanford Research with $70 price target.

November 6 - Altair Nano (Nasdaq:ALTI) maintained at SELL at Global Hunter with a price target of $1.00. Global Hunter had previously rated ALTI a SELL with a $1.50 price target.

November 6 - Akeena Solar (Nasdaq:AKNS) maintained at NEUTRAL at Global Hunter with a price target of $2.50. Global Hunter had previously rated AKNS at NEUTRAL with a price target of $5.00.

November 7 - Ormat (NYSE:ORA) was downgraded to HOLD at UBS. UBS had previously rated ORA a BUY (10/7/2008).

November 7 - Ormat (NYSE:ORA) was upgraded to a BUY at Janco. Janco had previously rated ORA at ACCUMULATE (5/30/2008).

November 7 - PowerSecure (Nasdaq:POWR) rated BUY at Roth Capital with $8 price target. Roth had previously rated POWR at BUY with a $13 price target (8/8/2008), a $15 price target (5/9/2008) and a $16 price target (3/14/2008).

Research and Reports

Investigation into the Scope for the Transport Sector to Switch to Electric Vehicles and Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles

This study, jointly undertaken by Arup and Cenex on behalf of the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) and the Department for Transport (DfT), has investigated the scope for the transport sector to switch to vehicles powered through electricity from the grid in the period until 2030. The report was commissioned to provide a better understanding of the contribution that the introduction of battery electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) can make to the long-term reduction of the UK's CO2 emissions.

Aspire Clean Tech Indices Weekly Performance - Ending November 7, 2008

Concerns persist about how renewable energy projects are going to perform amidst the global credit crisis, which will continue to create some discount for the overall industry in the near-to-mid term against the longer term growth for the industry which is accepted as conventional wisdom. 

Setting aside the catastrophe that is VeraSun (which we have removed from our biofuels index), the rest of the group actually managed to outperform, helped by Green Plains (Nasdaq:GPRED) which closed up 50% for the week, and Verenium (Nasdaq:VRNM) which closed up 25%. The best news in the sector, though, came from Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE:ADM) which kicked off this week's session blowing away estimates and announcing expansion of its horizon into the Brazilian biofuels markets through a strategic venture.

The news in the U.S. for pure refiners, remains dismal, however, and expectations are that feedstock prices are going to be rising which will further pressure margins. On the positive side, the biofuels sector has a friend in Obama, who will likely find new ways to support producers.

The energy management group closed down 3% this week, with Orion (Nasdaq:OESX) and Echelon (Nasdaq:ELON) leading the way, both on lackluster quarterly results. EnerNOC (Nasdaq:ENOC) bounced off its lows and closed up 23% leading the gainers in the group. We remain bullish on energy management.

The energy storage group closed down 5% this week, led by Enersys (Nasdaq:ENS), which was downgraded by Jefferies on a less than stellar quarterly report. We think the group's performance will only improve as costs for energy storage come down and demand increases with more hybrid and EVs coming online over the next few years. Companies that are particularly well positioned to benefit from these trends are Hydrogenics (Nasdaq:HYGS), Maxwell Technologies (Nasdaq:MXWL), Quantum Fuel Systems (Nasdaq:QTWW) and Ultralife Batteries (Nasdaq:ULBI).

The geothermal group closed up 5% this week, led by Ormat (NYSE:ORA) and Polaris Geothermal (GEO.TO). Ormat was helped today, closing up $3.10, or 12%,  on the heels of an upgrade over at Janco Partners, although it was downgraded by UBS. Raser (NYSE:RZ) has been trading with more strength lately as well, after announcing the inauguration of its Thermo plant in Utah and that Prudential Capital purchased its permanent debt financing. 

The upstream solar group closed up 2% this week, led by DC Chemical (010060.KS) which gained 16%. Conventional wisdom is that the upstream segment is going to continue to feel pricing pressure as more production comes online, and the question is whether manufacturers will be able to protect margins through increased efficiencies and volume. In the past three weeks alone, poly prices have declined about 20% to 30%, with high purity silicon down to about $100/kg.

Adding to the concern about slowing demand in a tightening credit market, solar stocks are facing additional headwinds, which we think may be overblown at this point, but nevertheless, are weighing. This week Goldman reiterated its belief that too much solar capacity has been added relative to demand, which will result in lowering module prices. Companies with weak cash flows and high debt will continue to struggle relative to their peers in this environment. Against this backdrop, the midstream segment closed down 2%.

The downstream group gained 8% this week, led by Real Goods (Nasdaq:RSOL) which gained 50%, after reporting and comparing well to Akeena (Nasdaq:AKNS) which continues to post wider losses and dismal margins. We continue to be bullish on the downstream market which will benefit from both the recent passage of the ITC legislation in Congress and from an Obama presidency which will likely help pass a federal RPS within the next couple quarters.

The solar equipment group shed 6% this week, with only Satcon (Nasdaq:SATC) in positive territory. GT Solar (Nasdaq:SOLR) reported, and we thought its results warranted better performance in its stock (improving margins, increase backlog, profitable). To be sure, the solar equipment group is being beaten down on concerns that project financing is not going to be available, or at least that tighter credit markets will reduce the volume of projects for the near to mid-term.

The wind energy group gained 3% this week, led by Suzlon (SUZLON.NS) which closed up 47% for the week, and 17% today alone. Reuters reported that T Rowe Price added another 5.8 million shares of the stock to its portfolio. American Superconductor (Nasdaq:AMSC) benefitted from an upgrade at Ardour and even Jefferies' Hold recommendation helped its cause given its price target is $17. The wind energy segment has been another one of the groups in the renewable energy sector that is perceived to be facing headwinds of tightening credit markets. 

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.

The Aspire Week in Review is brought to you by Small Cap Pulse the best source on the web for financial and economic commentary, stock recommendations, and a fresh idea. To learn more about Small Cap Pulse, call 858-509-9900.


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