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Renewable Investments hitting Mainstream

CBS MarketWatch ran an interesting story last week on brokerage and investment banking concern Jesup & Lamont and their analysis of small cap stocks in the renewable space. The video above was recorded at a conference the company sponsored and Brian Yerger takes the viewers through the rationale of alternative energy (we prefer renewable, there’s nothing alternative about technologies that have been used for millennia) stocks moving into the mainstream for investors, particularly institutions. Geothermal player Ormat and solar PV installer Akeena are mentioned prominently in the clip.

CBS MarketWatch Article
Ormat (ORA)
Akeena (AKNS)

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Geothermal Investment Heats Up; Cleantech Bubble Called

This week, CNBC published an article on the hot geothermal stock sector where companies like Ormat (NYSE: ORA) and US Geothermal (AMEX: HTM) are outperforming the S&P last year, Ormat by 40%. There are a number of interesting facts & figures along with a couple of very interesting assertions.

The article states that investment in the sector is now $3B, up 183% year over year. It goes on to say that half of that investment comes from foreign players on US soil, notably from Iceland (Glitnir & Geysir Green Energy) and Italy (Enel.) Another interesting aspect pull out of the article is that the “smart money” in private equity has taken note, pouring in over $400M in 2007.

Of the projects on the board, some $31B of additional investment will be required which will boost geothermal electricity sales to over $11B per year, up from the present level of $1.8B per year.

Switching gears, Arvind Sodhani of Intel Capital warned of a cleantech bubble when recently interviewed by the Financial Times. Sohani’s thesis is simple and logical, when equity valuation becomes disconnected from intrinsic value of assets, a bubble occurs and a crash inevitably follows. Almost certainly there is bubble risk the solar and wind segments, and arguably, the ethanol segment bubble has already popped.

As always, there are conflicting views on the world of cleantech. The facts demonstrate that the industry remains hot and the hope is that it can survive the bubble and thrive in the long-term.

CNBC: Investment In Geothermal Industry Heating Up
FT: Intel Capital Warns of Cleantech Bubble

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Raser reports Q1

Geothermal developer Raser Technologies reported Q1 earnings yesterday with mixed results. If one were to judge the company purely by financial measures one would conclude this is a penny stock headed toward zero with accelerating losses, very little revenue, and negative shareholder equity. However, the market seems to be taking a much more optimistic view, assigning a market cap in excess of $500M, based on the non-financial aspects of the report which principally involves the development of 8 geothermal electricity projects in Utah and Oregon. Here is a snapshot of the consolidated balance sheet and operations statement:

Raser Technologies Q1 2008 Balance Sheet

Raser Technologies Q1 2008 Operations Statement

With the bad news out of the way, the company has made progress toward developing its geothermal project portfolio with approximately 80MWe underway in 8 projects scattered throughout Utah, Nevada, and Oregon. Management expects that all 8 projects will be in commercial operation by the end of Q1 2009. Power purchase agreements totaling 22MW have been completed with the City of Anaheim and more agreements are in-process at this time. Ground was broken on the first plant in Utah and the company managed to secure some star power in the form of Senator Orrin Hatch for the ceremony. Project financing for 155MWe has been secured and power conversion units accounting for 45MWe have been ordered with about 8MWe now in possession of the company.

Possible snags in getting to commercial operation for these plants include: permitting, environmental impact reports, transmission, and most importantly, water availability and rights. The company has not spoken publicly about any of these issues and with 8 concurrent projects underway, there is substantial delay and completion risk yet to be mitigated. While it’s clear the company is moving full speed ahead in developing its projects, we can’t help but note that management claimed the first plant would be in operation in Q1 2008 in the earnings report one year ago. We said the company’s plans were overly aggressive then, we maintain that stance even as we’re impressed by the progress that has happened to date.

There is still substantial risk in this stock relative to the bet on positive cash flow in time to meet the committed financial obligations.

Raser Technologies


More Dilution at Ormat

On the heels of a very strong earnings report, Ormat announced the sale of 3.1M shares in a block to Lehman Brothers last week, sending the issue down nearly 7% on the day of the announcement. Subsequently, the stock has recovered a bit. The company plans to use the proceeds, some $60M, for equipment, development, and operations. After this placement, Ormat now has 45.3M shares outstanding and boosts a market capitalization of over $2B.

Lehman Brothers


Want to Get Your Project Financed?

Big wad of cash.

Then check out the excellent two part series on Foundations of Project Energy Finance over at Cleantech Finance Insider. Bill Lemon has done an excellent job explaining the topics that need to be considered when bringing a project forward for consideration. Remember, it’s all about risk vs. reward. Your job as a developer is to minimize the risks and maximize the rewards, if you can crack that code, you’ll find money for your project.

Foundations of Project Energy Finance Part 1
Foundations of Project Energy Finance Part 2


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