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The DoE Does Something Right, For a Change

Daniel Englander: April 30, 2008, 7:55 AM
About a year ago, the Department of Energy's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability put out a notice seeking applications from companies developing smart grid technologies.The grant program is part of a larger initiative at DoE - Smart Grid 2030 - aimed at building up the nation's ailing power grid. A major component of this program is support for physical infrastructure. Just today, the Long Island Power Authority announced it had deployed the country's first commercial high tension superconducting transmission cable, backed by $27.5 million from the DoE's ED/ER group. But now DoE wants to move into some of the softer, backend technology, which it calls Renewable...

The Morning Feedstock

Daniel Englander: April 30, 2008, 1:25 AM
China's coal reserves have dwindled in recent months to 46.7 million tons, enough to last the country 12 days. Following a crushing winter that saw millions of travelers tied up for days during the Lunar New Year and the country's push to become a net exporter of coal, China may in fact be bleeding itself dry. State officials report China exported 8.75 million tons during the first two months of 2008, up 13.5 percent year-on-year, at a price of $630 million, or $72.2 per ton. During that same period, the country's imports declined 18.2 percent to 7.06 million tons at a cost of $450 million - up 13.1 percent year-on-year - with average costs reaching $63.3 per ton. Particularly...

It’s Not The Size of the Fund in the Fight, It’s the Size of the Fight in Fund

Daniel Englander: April 29, 2008, 5:26 PM
Big time greentech funds are popping up faster than mushrooms after a spring rain. Last week the John and Al Show announced they were raising a $400 million "Green Growth" fund aimed at late-stage "private and public investments as well as . . . carve outs and spinouts." Other $400 million+ funds include the soon-to-close RockPort kitty ($450 million), the second coming of Element Partners ($400 million), and a $500 million piggy bank from NGEN Partners. Today's Wall Street Journal calls out Russell Read, the soon-to-be former chief investment officer of the $244 billion CalPERS fund, as the new face in the greentech investment jungle. Read will depart CalPERS on June 30 to begin...

Brenco’s IPO Potential Boosted by Low Average Cost of Labor

Daniel Englander: April 29, 2008, 7:46 AM
Philippe Reichstul, CEO of Brenco, said yesterday his company will seek an IPO worth $3.2 billion by the end of 2008 or beginning of 2009. The IPO proceeds will help the Brazilian ethanol company expand its refining base to 10 ethanol plants by 2015, with an annual production capacity of around 1 billion gallons. Brenco is at work now constructing four ethanol refineries and a 650-mile pipeline at a combined cost of roughly $2 billion, which makes it one of Brazil's leading ethanol companies. That Reichstul was once the CEO of Petrobras probably doesn't hurt the company's chances either. Brenco also benefits from some pretty solid fundamentals. One particularly bright spot that...

The Morning Feedstock

Daniel Englander: April 29, 2008, 2:54 AM
Is Miasole sputtering out? Dow Chemical announced Monday the company selected Global Solar as its CIGS module partner, replacing Miasole on the Solar America Initiative BIPV project. The Department of Energy gave Dow $9 million last spring to develop a “full line of cost effective PV Containing Building Products.??? (pdf). Miasole was part of the initial bid team, though this was before the thin-film startup was hit with a few technical and production problems. The company had difficulty producing cells at its target conversion efficiencies – hitting the four to six percent range, but falling far short of its eight to 10 percent target. At the end of last year, Miasole laid...

When Environmentalists Attack: The Assault on Renewable Energy

Daniel Englander: April 28, 2008, 8:44 AM
Greentech has become big business for a variety of reasons: energy is a $6 trillion a year market, national security concerns pushing governments into creating sustainable domestic power supplies, and, of course, the need to develop non-polluting energy sources to stem global warming and climate change. This last reason is regarded as a factor uniting the private sector, environmentalists and NGOs, governments, and just about anyone else who's got a stake in making sure (a) we don't burn to a flaky crisp or (b) Sea World doesn't morph from amusement park to never-ending Kevin Costner movie. But the state of affairs in this unholy alliance are not quite what they seem. In April...

The Morning Feedstock

Daniel Englander: April 28, 2008, 3:44 AM
In the absence of a sufficient product market to sell into, A123 Systems has decided to go it alone. The company has announced it will begin selling the Hymotion L5 PHEV conversion module into a handful of major U.S. cities, including Boston, D.C., Seattle, and San Francisco. The PHEV conversion module, which A123 picked up in a their acquisiton of Hymotion in 2007, is a 5 kWh, 30-40 mile range extender costing $9,995. Though A123 CEO David Vieau told a Senate committee in 2007, "with 5 million hybrids on the road by 2010, we feel there is a significant opportunity for an interim aftermaket solution," A123's conversion solution beats the Chevy Volt by three years and the official...