Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wind Energy

TGIT Thermo Thursday Green Energy Explained Thank Gusts It's Thursday

yeah the wind is gusting to save us from being smothered in carbon dioxide cloud. I have opined on several occasions that wind farms to generate electricty are by far the best new technology for renewable energy. I am very glad to report that 2007 was a banner year for the wind energy business in the USA as well as worldwide. The department of entropy (USDOE) today reported that installation of wind turbines in the USA was up 45% in 2007 over 2006. The US now has 16,818 megawatts of installed wind turbines. Texas is always the bigger and better state and they lead the US by installing 1,618 megawatts of capacity during 2007. The entire US installed 5,244 megawatts of capacity over the same period. Texas, therefore, accounts for about 30% of the wind project in 2007. I say "go longhorns go".

The TECO Westinghouse Motor Company will develop a 10 megawatt turbine for offshore installation. This is quite amazing in size as it will peturb the wind flow for some 200 acres that surround the turbine as wind energy can be harvested at a rate of about 50 kilowatts per acre.

The single largest problem facing developers of wind farms is the problem of birds of prey and bats flying into the turbine blades. Bats can be diverted by sonar and birds should be warned by having LED lights embedded in the blades.

The word of the day is permeate or to pass through. We are all indeed fortunate that air can permeate through the turbine blades so we have wind energy.Permeate is from Latin permeare, "to go through, to pass through," from per-, "through" + meare, "to go, to pass."The Following was reported by the USDOE on 1/23/08

U.S. Wind Power Capacity Surged Up 45% in 2007
The U.S. wind energy industry installed 5,244 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity in 2007, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The rapid growth shatters all previous records and boosts the total U.S. wind power capacity by 45% in only one year. The growth even exceeded AWEA's expectations for 4,000 MW of new capacity, a prediction made just two months ago. In fact, wind power provided 30% of the new generating capacity installed in the United States in 2007. The total U.S. wind power capacity is now at 16,818 MW, with wind projects located in 34 states. AWEA estimates that in 2008, U.S. wind power facilities will generate 48 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, or about 1% of the nation's electricity needs. AWEA expects similar capacity growth in 2008, although factors such as the availability of new wind turbines could have an impact on growth. The trade association tallies 3,520 MW of new wind power capacity currently under construction.

Texas leads the states in terms of new wind power capacity installed in 2007, with 1,618 MW of new capacity, further cementing the state's lead in total installed wind power capacity. Among the largest projects built in 2007 are the 198-MW and 161.7-MW Twin Groves I and II wind plants in Illinois; the 264-MW Peetz Table and 300.5-MW Cedar Creek wind plants, both in Colorado; the 232.5-MW phase II of the Buffalo Gap wind plant in Texas; the 205.5-MW Fenton Wind Power Project in Minnesota; the 221.1-MW Klondike III wind plant in Oregon; and the 204.7-MW White Creek Wind Power Project in Washington. The Bluegrass Ridge wind farm is also noteworthy, as it's the first utility-scale wind facility in Missouri. AWEA also estimates that at least 14 new wind power manufacturing facilities either opened or were announced in 2007. See the AWEA press release and the accompanying market report (PDF 238 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

Wind turbines are also getting bigger, as the largest turbines employed in last year's wind projects was a 3-MW Vestas turbine, installed in California and Texas. Of the projects now under construction, one in California is employing a 4-MW Mitsubishi turbine. In October 2007, Clipper Windpower established the Centre of Excellence for Offshore Wind in the United Kingdom to develop a 7.5-MW offshore wind turbine, called the "Britannia Project." At about the same time, American Superconductor Corporation teamed up with TECO-Westinghouse Motor Company to develop a 10-MW generator for use in offshore wind turbines. See the press releases from Clipper Wind and American Superconductor.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Geothermal Stocks

Finance Friday TGIF - Thank Geothermal It’s Friday

Today we will discuss stocks that are in the area of geothermal energy. First we need a definition of geothermal energy Geothermal comes form the Greek words for earth and heat. In essence there is the capability to take naturally occurring heat that is warmer than room temperature and use this to either heat homes and offices or even produce electricity from the heat (energy) source. Typically the temperature of the geothermal source is not very high like in a coal fired power plant but is still high enough to extract work out of the system to drive turbines to generate electricity. There are several companies that are listed in the US that are engaged in geothermal energy. Today we will discuss two. The first is Ormat Technologies Inc ORA on the NYSE. ORA is trading today at $43.17 and well off of its 52 week high of $57.93. The Price Earnings Ratio (PE) for ORA is still a very high 71.95 giving ORA a market capitalization of $1.79 billion. ORA has some very good underlying technology in its low boiling point fluid method of generating electricity form low temperature heat sources such as geothermal or concentrated solar. ORA is trading at just under 4 times its book value of $455 million and it is my contention that ORA will be a long term player in the alternative and green energy market because of the underlying technology it has in the low boiling point fluids. I put ORA in the HOPE column and I believe that they will be around in five years as an even bigger company than their present state. My belief is that all green stocks will see pricing pressure in the short term and ORA may still drop further over the next few months but long term this company will likely be one of the market leaders in geothermal and concentrated solar.

The second stock I will discuss falls into the HYPE column. This company is Raser Technologies Inc RZ on the NYSE. This is somewhat of a shell company that has recently made the move into leasing large tracts of land in the west that have geothermal potential. RZ is a development company and has announced they have lined up financing from the like of Merrill Lynch

We all know that Merrill Lynch took a massive bath in sub-prime mortgages. With RZ they are likely to get into even more hot water and take a geothermal bath that will scald them. The location of RZs leases is in places where there is abundant coal, abundant gas, or abundant hydroelectric. This means the electricity that will be generated will have to compete with fairly low prices alternates. RZ has a puny balance sheet and is bleeding cash. With some 55 million shares outstanding and more dilution coming its way RZ is hardly worth the $13.82 it trades for. It had peaked at $18.44 a few weeks back. Long term RZ could end up in the trash heap and be a memory like some of the energy development companies like Calpine CPNLQ.PK or the dotcom companies that got on that band wagon. Actually Calipne which is now a pinksheet fallen star does operate some geothermal electric generation plants at the Geysers in Northern California. RZ also claims to have some super duper technology for improving electric motor efficiency and some technology for hybrid propulsion. I believe GE has great technology for electric motors and Toyota has great technology for hybrids propulsion and that RZ is pretty much hot air on these sectors. Therefore I put RZ into the HYPE column.

Be very careful with geothermal companies the water is hot and the stocks were recently hot, other than Ormat I believe you will get third degree burns in this sector.

Lindsay Leveen

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Biodegradable Coffins

Green Thursday TGIT – Thank Graves It’s Thursday

First before we start the rather macabre discussion of burial, I want to wish you all a happy new year. Also my blog this year will alternate between Thursdays and Fridays. Thursdays will remain the traditional Green Thursday and Fridays will be Finance Fridays in which I will dissect energy related stocks to help you discern if their business is based on hope or hype.

CNN carried an article on a trend toward using biodegradable coffins for burial. Below is a picture of a grieving relative of someone about to be buried in a coffin made from recycled newspaper. I hope they only used the obituary section not the sports section?

John in the carpool has asked me to opine on whether burial is more green than cremation. Well with the fattening up of the American population, the average adult now has enough fat content to self sustain their own cremation without the need of any fossil fuel.

Some nut in the UK has posted the average body composition on a web page

I will use 20% fat content for the average American adult and an average mass of 175 pounds so we have 35 pounds of fat to contribute to our cremation. This is about 700,000 BTUs of available energy which is more than ample to “fire” the process. Burial in a cemetery that has its landscape maintained for the next 100 years will require mowing of the lawn around each gravesite. If the mowing is performed 25 times a year and the lawn around each gravesite is 100 square feet then the amount of lawn mowed over a 100 year period is 25 times 100 times 100 or 250,000 square feet or some six acre equivalent of mowing. To mow six acres of lawn requires at least 2 gallons of gasoline so I vote that even with the biodegradable recycled coffin, cremation is much more green than burial. Judaism has been green about burial for the past three thousand years as the rabbis require a very plan pine casket without any metal or adornment. In biblical times the body was buried in a pure white cotton shroud not a wood coffin so this was even more green

Enough about death and taxes!!

New York City rang in the new year with a brand new LED based ball. The new ball is twice as bright and uses half the electricity of the previous ball. NYC had been dropping the ball in time square for the past 100 years. The politicians in DC have always dropped the ball.

Lastly taking about lighting up the world! A new 150 inch plasma display was unveiled at the consumer electronics show this week in Las Vegas. This display has a surface area in excess of 9,600 square inches and will need about 3.5 kilowatts of power. I found an interesting web site that compares the power requirements for various TV technologies I hope that the governator has a 35 amp electrical service in his den. Yes Arne has ordered one of these so he can watch reruns of Twins. He wants to see his buddy Danny DeVito in normal size and to see himself as the jolly green giant.

The word of the day is remonstrate or to plead or protest perhaps in this case one could start the word with a d and still be correct

remonstrate \rih-MAHN-strayt; REH-mun-strayt\, intransitive verb:1. To present and urge reasons in opposition to an act, measure, or any course of proceedings -- usually used with 'with'.
transitive verb:1. To say or plead in protest, opposition, or reproof.
If a hailstorm starts, surely instead of remonstrating with it, you try to take shelter.-- Victor Pelevin,
A Werewolf Problem in Central Russia and Other Stories
When things went beyond the control of her forceful personality, inventiveness or charm, if the problem was something she could not alter or manipulate, she didn't pine or remonstrate, she merely buried what was threatening or damaging to her sense of worth.-- Colin Thubron, "Sophisticated Traveler", New York Times, October 10, 1999
Tories and Liberal Democrats remonstrated with each other.-- Matthew Parris, "Cockney market forces drive Ginger bananas",
Times (London), May 16, 2001
Remonstrate comes from Medieval Latin remonstrare, "to show again, to point back to, as a fault," from re- + monstrare, "to show."