Tag Archive | "Electric vehicles"

More Electric Investing Ideas


Will the Volt put voltage back into General Motors shares?

electric-car

Will the new Chevy Volt add energy into an electric investment portfolio?

Probably not… because small is beautiful.

In this era of rapid change a company’s value is its idea… less its size and experience.   A monster organization like GM… even trimmed down comes from the muscle car experience. Changing course from the “Giddiyap 409” attitude to “Go Green” requires enormous effort.

Yet who will come out ahead?

Chinese? South Koreans…. even Japanese?  Europeans?

The Japanese and Europeans have the benefit with their small, crowded nations, narrow and winding roads. They have always had to think smaller than in the US, where soft big and fast were the norm.

Japan’s gas prices are almost double those in the US and Europe’s are sometimes triple…. so when America’s cars were getting bigger… Europe’s and Japan’s were shrinking.

The Chinese and South Koreans are relatively new to the game so their mindset may not be as formed.

Americans did not learn much from the 1980s oil crisis.  Americans made pretty crappy, small cars at that time… the Dodge Reliant…  yuck!  No wonder Chrysler went broke.

non-electric-car

The Ford Mustang had fallen from its great beginning to a miserable low and the Chevy Malibu wasn’t any better.  We should not be surprised that the Japanese grabbed so much market share.

non-electric-car

GM rebounded with the Suburban.  Ford watched F150 pickup sales soar. Chrysler  made the minivan an every day affair and American drivers moved from gas guzzling muscle cars to gas guzzling SUVS and trucks.

Here are reader comments from our last message about green investing.

Greetings Gary, Thank you for printing the electric engineer’s letter. He is a smart guy, and used good illustrations. In his passion for reminding us that a battery is like a bucket [of course he is right] he managed to throw out the benefits of the battery out the window.  I hope he doesn’t impede you from reporting on new tech you hear about in the future. We all knew what you intended. The real point is reducing our grid use [via wind solar, whatever] and being able to store it economically. If this battery works it is the breakthrough you reported.  Please don’t lose your passion, tell us as many of the details of the vision you see, please. Happy Trails, and keep up the good work.

No chance I’ll lose my passion! I have grand kids and my children are really passionate about this so they push me right along. From the investing point of view, I know that big problems create big opportunity and there are few bigger problems than environmental pollution.

Here is another reader:  In response to the solar battery section of this post, it may interest you to access National Geographic’s August’s “Picture of the Month”.  Scout around the site until you find the series of photos from their recent article on the current state of solar power technology.

You may know that the WSJ recently had an article about a meeting Correa had with a Russian delegation to discuss Russian help building a nuclear energy plant in Ecuador. The WSJ (which hates Correa) was on red alert. But the general feeling in other media is that the Russians are meddling in “our” backyard in response to us meddling in “their” former sphere of influence, particularly those missiles in Eastern Europe.  I continue to be puzzled why no one in Ecuador, or interested in Ecuador, is looking at developing a solar power industry. Apart from the obvious abundance of stable and intense year-round solar radiation, a distribution system along the north/south axis of the Andes would avoid all the problems of moving oil and gas through mountains and volcanoes from the eastern Amazon basin west to the Pacific ports for trans-shipment.

The lack of solar would seem a puzzle until one thinks it through. Solar power is still costly and poor nations tend to go with the least expensive choice.   Plus who would help?  Solar could make Ecuador independent and no one seems to have that on their agenda.

Mankind must become greener. This is a huge problem and because problems create opportunity, demand for electric cars that help the environment may continue to grow.

When looking at investment ideas in electric cars think small… the winners are not likely go come from America’s… big (mostly busted) three.

See Jyske Bank’s Financial Friday including an interview about electric investing in cars.

Gary

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High Voltage International Investing


Here are some international investing ideas that could bring a shock.

We can add energy to our international investment portfolios with investments in green energy!

electric-car

Will the new Chevy Volt add energy into an investment portfolio?

But which green investments make sense?

Ecuador for example is regreening the Galapagos. We’ll see why and how in a moment.  Does investing there provide an opportunity?

Green and alternate energy is important because the world has a lot of wasted energy in modern lifestyles…. that the environment can no longer afford.

Investing in electric energy not always simple though.

One main rule of good investing is to invest in what you know.  Yet the nature of the next new era of productivity is unknown.

In the computer era, who knew anything about Windows when Microsoft began?  In the .com era who knew what impact the internet would bring?  How can we imagine the unimaginable?

Who knows what will be …”the thing” of sustainability in the future?

For example, a recent message Investing in Chaos looked at the ideas of investing in new battery technology.  The idea looked pretty good to me… but a reader just sent me this note:

Hello Gary,  Your columns are a daily joy to read for me, including yesterday’s “Investing in Chaos” and the article it referenced about Ceramatec’s ‘wonder battery’.  Being a specialist in renewable solar electric energy, I’ve read hundreds of articles over three decades written for purposes of sensationalizing hardware equivalents of software ‘vaporware’, and this one fits the bill perfectly.

Identifying truly new technologies possessing wide ranging, paradigm-busting potential, is not easy, especially for readers and investors depending upon what they read in popular sources like newspapers as being bona-fide journalism.

Having received a great deal of very high value from your writings, I thought I’d send back a few words given this topic is so near and dear to my own heart and personal passion for purity in all things energetic (physical and otherwise).

Because breakthrough technologies involving renewable energy – especially solar-electric (photovoltaic) power, including batteries of all types – is core and central to my own life career work as an electrical engineer and research scientist in this field, I believe I can offer your readers a bit of technical feedback:

First and foremost, it is valid that storage of electricity generated by photovoltaic solar power sources – in batteries of many types, sizes and costs – is nearly as vital a technology as the solar cells that charge them. The claim in this article, though, that Ceramatec’s battery ‘concept’ (NOT a product yet, by a very long shot)”… could be the single most important breakthrough for clean, alternative energy since Socrates first noted solar heating 2,400 years ago.”

This is a huge overstatement, to say the least.

In no way would their technology, if and when ultimately developed into a useful product, compare to any one of a long list of truly authentic alternative energy breakthroughs, such as: silicon semiconductors (solar cells), electronic devices (MOSFET transistors, integrated circuits galore), power conversion methods (inverters), optical lenses (fresnel and others), super-insulators (thermal barriers), or even plain old window glass (for passive heating and active heat collectors).

Although several errors and misstatements fill the article, one in particular really stands out.

Readers may recognize its error quickly when explained economically: …”With the batteries expected to sell in the neighborhood of $2,000, that translates to less than 3 cents per kilowatt hour over the battery’s life. Conventional power from the grid typically costs in the neighborhood of 8 cents per kilowatt hour”

Re-read that last paragraph and let the information really sink in.

Knowing that batteries, like bank accounts, only store what’s put into them, the essential question  is: where do deposits come from, and what do they cost?

In solar energy systems, it’s solar energy in that equals energy out.  With the battery being not a SOURCE of energy but simply a ‘bank’, or RESERVOIR in which to temporarily store what’s generated by day for use at night.

Stating the daily cost of a battery (“less than 3 cents per kilowatt hour”), which, remember, supplies NO power (it only stores it) while in the same sentence making NO mention of the cost of what DOES supply the power, whether it be solar panels, wind turbines or just the normal electric-utility grid, implies at best and misleads at worst that the battery cost is all that counts, as if it were the SOURCE of the power itself.

And then comparing it so favorably to the cost of electricity from the utility (8 cents per kilowatt hour) which DOES SUPPLY ALL the power, is obviously grossly misleading; the TOTAL cost would be the sum of BOTH, or 3 + 8 or 11 cents per kilowatt hour!

Either the author has near zero understanding of what batteries do (store energy) and do not do (generate it), or as is often the case in local newspapers writing about local businesses, another agenda is being served.  To tell readers that “buckets deliver water cheap without being refilled”, can only cause misplaced interest.   Unfortunately, every bucket and battery and bank account must be refilled at some cost. The cost of the bucket should be, and usually is, nearly negligible. Cheap buckets do not mean cheap water.

Many thanks for all you do to bring so many new ideas, concepts, tools and awareness to all of us readers who tune into your thinking regularly.

The reminder from this reader provides a good lesson that we always have to use diligence in understanding the future. And aren’t we thankful when readers can come forth with information on these complicated subjects!  When we invest in new ideas and technology that we do not know… go slow!

The same questions can be raised about electric cars.

electric-car

The picture above is from a USA Today article entitled “Plug-in Fisker Karma car is stylishly environmental” by Chris Woodyard.  Here is an excerpt: Even as Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Rolls-Royces prowled the avenue, the obscure silver sedan parked at the curb gathered its share of stares and curiosity.

The Fisker Karma, as it is called, has looks that rival a Mercedes-Benz roadster. Yet the key to what makes it different is emblazoned on the sides in chrome letters:

The maker, Fisker Automotive, is trying to carve out a niche in what is fast becoming a crowded field of next-generation electric vehicles: a high-performance eco-car loaded with style.

The company has taken more than 1,400 refundable deposits so far for the Karma, which has a starting price of $87,900 and can top $100,000. The car can be driven for 50 miles on electric power alone before its auxiliary gasoline engine fires up to generate more juice and extend the range to up to 300 miles. The engine never directly drives the wheels.

The point never mentioned is the cost of electricity to charge the Karma.

This cost may not be much… I do not know and this is the point.  Use diligence as we move into new technologies.

See Jyske TV for an interview with Henrik Fisker the head of this company

Galapagos Green

Even Galapagos is turning to solar and wind power. Every year, more than 140,000 tourists descend on Galapagos and the island’s population has tripled to nearly 30,000 in the past two decades. To support all those people, 10 million gallons of diesel fuel and gasoline are shipped to the Galápagos annually, a fifth of which is used just to generate electricity. Regular tanker traffic in one of Earth’s most fragile ecosystems is a disaster waiting to happen (just ask an Alaskan), so the Ecuadoran government is trying to go green. Naturally, the remote location involves challenges, but several projects to cut fuel use and boost protections are up and running, with more in the works. See how Galapagos is becoming more green here.

Gary

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Read the entire USA Today article Plug-in Fisker Karma car is stylishly environmental