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Eamon Keane

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  • Molycorp Set Up For A Classic Short Squeeze [View article]
    Some good info in this article, thanks. One correction, the following statement is not evidenced from Table 2: "As you can see the hard disk drive business was not a major part of the rare earths business."

    Hard drives use around 18 g neodymium magnets per HDD - two 6 g magnets for the voice coil motor and one 6 g magnet for the spindle. 30% of the magnets are the rare earths Nd + Pr. Global shipments of HDDs last year came to 651 m, so doing the sums on that, rare earth demand from HDDs was 4,102 t Nd + Pr oxide (18*0.3*651)/(0.857), or 13% of the magnet sector (4,102/26,300).

    Aug 22, 2011. 04:07 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Molycorp's Project Phoenix Rising Along With Its NPV [View article]
    "Where are these "structural oversupply" forecasts?"

    Figure 16 of the linked document ( shows the forecasts of Lynas, Byron Capital Markets, IMCOA & Great Western which all predict 10-30 ktpa cerium surplus in 2014. Also Ernst & Young came out last week and predicted a 10 ktpa surplus in 2015, see Figure 2: (

    "Cerium has far more uses than glass polishing"

    I'm aware of that, I made a sankey chart which shows rare earth flows by end product in Figure 9 of (
    Apr 26, 2011. 10:17 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A Reality Check for Wind Power Investors [View article]
    Javaharv, because there is no causal link between the two. As was said, very little oil is used in power generation, which is where it's easiest to substitute natural gas for oil. It's a lot harder to substitute natural gas for oil in transport. The oil market is a truly global market, whereas the natural gas market is regional.

    The IEA's World Energy Outlook 2010, for example, predicts a Btu of gas in America will remain at 40% the cost of a Btu of oil for the next 25 years (O/G ratio = 14.5). In Europe, because of an assumed oil indexation, a unit of natural gas energy is projected to cost 60% of oil. The canary in the coal mine for price parity based on energy equivalency is that a unit of coal energy has cost about 30% of the cost of an oil Btu for the last ten years.

    Over the last 30 years, aside from once in the '80s and once in the '90s, the annual price of European natural gas has always been below price parity. In the US, price parity was reached in two different years of the '00s but never in the previous 20 years.

    Oil is 33% of global energy demand, natural gas is only 21%. The only way the two prices would have a logical link today is if a huge amount of natural gas was diverted to make oil via GTL or if compressed/liquified natural gas in transport took off majorly. These are discussed and discounted in the IEA's estimation. GTL plants require many years to plan and construct. Concerted sales of NG vehicles for years would be required to relieve pressure on the oil price and increase pressure on the natural gas price.
    Apr 7, 2011. 12:49 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • A Reality Check for Wind Power Investors [View article]
    Starting a power system from scratch, yes, however most current power systems have capacity and flexibility which can be used to balance wind.
    Apr 7, 2011. 06:51 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Spain's "ghost towns" challenge government officials' assertions that Spain's banks have fully accounted for the losses they face. “We find it impossible to reconcile the banks’ claims of asset quality stability and the macro facts," says a report from Société Générale.  [View news story]
    The sooner they accept this, the better. From Ireland's situation, our finmin Brian Lenihan said the following in May 2008:

    "However, what we do know is that the underlying demand for housing remains strong, driven by a relatively young population and continued inward migration. While we may experience a year or two of sub-50,000 completions, it is reasonable to expect over the medium term that annual completions will return to sustainable levels which will remain high by international standards, reflecting the strong underlying demand for housing in Ireland."

    The result today: over 600 ghost estates with some 3-400,000 empty houses. All documented via google maps and streetview on
    Dec 19, 2010. 11:47 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Kandi Technologies: An Intelligent Vehicle Electrification Plan [View article]
    Nice article, John, have you taken your meds yet today?!

    If the economics of this works out, this is excellent news. Over the next twenty years China is projected to go from 1 car per 30 people to 1 car per 4 people. A couple of weeks ago, the American embassy referenced the "crazy bad" smog in Beijing due to the growing car fleet. Chinese oil consumption under current scenarios double to 15 mb/d by 2030, 80% of which will be imported.

    The political will seems to be there at the top for EVs, let's see how this develops.
    Dec 7, 2010. 05:35 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why America Must Focus on Domestic Energy Solutions Instead of Imports [View article]
    "Merrill Lynch reports that 20% of new car sales in Italy are NG powered"

    I think this figure is off, maybe it was a particular month they were referring to.

    In 2009, the Italian NGV fleet increased by 50,000 to 628,624 [1]. Total Italian car sales in 2009 were 2,168,330 [2], with NGV sales of about 127,000 [3], that comes to 5.8% NGV. 85% of NGV sales were of Fiat Pandas or Fiat Puntos [3], the kind of puny cars that get 0-60mph in 19 seconds which no self-respecting American would drive! The uptake was partially due to incentives of €1,500/car [4]. It was also partly to do with excise and VAT accounting for over half the cost of gasoline. CNG is only charged VAT, and it works out at about 15% of the pump price [5].

    2009 natural gas consumption was of the order of 0.8bcm/year [6], or 700ktoe/yr or 14,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. This is about 1.5% of Italian energy consumption for transport [7].

    [1] International Association of Natural Gas Vehicles, "Natural Gas Vehicle Statistics", 2010, (
    2009, BUT UNCERTAIN TIMES AHEAD", 2010, pdf: (
    [3] UNRAE, "Registration of cars and jeeps in Italy - top ten - methane from 2000 to 2009", 2010, (
    [4] CNN, "Italy spurs new car sales", 2009, (
    [5] GasHighWay, "Promoting the Uptake of Gaseous Vehicle
    Fuels, Biogas and Natural Gas, in Europe", 2009, pdf: (
    [6] NGVA Europe, "NGVs and Fuel Consumption in Europe", 2010, (
    [7] Eurostat, "Final energy consumption by transport", (
    Oct 26, 2010. 03:01 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wind Energy: Freedom From Fossil Fuels or Tempest in a Teapot? Part I [View article]
    Ok, I'll bite. With respect, this paragraph leads me to question your knowledge of the electricity sector:

    "According to a recent article in Britain’s Daily Mail, more than half of Britain’s wind farms are operating at less than 25% capacity – and the figure rises to nearly 3 out of 4 onshore developments! 70% of the land-based wind farms / power plants on land only get enough wind to power a turbine 25% of the time. You don't build a church to handle every worshipper who comes once a year on Easter Sunday and is 3/4 empty the rest of the year; why would you build a power source that follows just that model?"

    You seem surprised that wind farms don't operate at a 100% capacity factor. The best wind sites will give you 40%. The typical range is 20-40%. Last year Irish wind turbines operated at a roughly 30% capacity factor. Solar has a 12-15% capacity factor. The total US generation fleet operated at a 44% capacity factor in 2009 [1]. Capacity factor is not efficiency. Get over it [2].

    [1] EIA 2009 Annual Energy Review (
    [2] Seriously
    Aug 22, 2010. 09:14 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Should Big Ethanol Continue to Receive Billions in Annual Aid? [View article]
    Great article, what a clusterf*ck! So when will the extension pass?
    Jul 20, 2010. 10:07 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Energy Storage Investors Must Understand Resource Constraints [View article]
    MRTTF, have you come across any hard data on the amounts involved? There doesn't seem to be a robust LCA out there.

    However there is a paper in press which makes an educated estimate (

    For LiFePO4 batteries, the paper used an assumption of 107kg for a 10kWh battery pack (93Wh/kg). The battery was assumed 10 cells per module, with each module being a kWh.

    Here are the pack level contents in kg on a per kWh basis followed by % by weight in descending order:

    LiFePO4 (4.22kg) 39%
    Graphite (1.69) 16%
    Ethylene glycol dimethyl ether (1.57) 15%
    Polypropylene (0.74) 7%
    Polyvinylidene flouride [PVDF] (0.49) 5%
    Electronics (0.47) 4%
    Copper (0.46) 4%
    Lithium Cholride (0.28) 3%
    Carbon Black (0.27) 3%
    Aluminium Foil (0.26) 2%
    Resistor (0.1) 1%
    Transistor (0.1) 1%
    Polyethylene (0.09) 1%

    If Manganese, Cobalt or Nickel are binding constraints, then perhpas LiFePO4 batteries are the least resource constrained.

    If there's 4.22kg of LiFePO4, then there's 1.44kg of iron.

    Supposing hypothetical scaling up to 3 million 24kWh battery packs, that's an annual demand of 72GWh of batteries. Based on USGS 2009 global production, here is the proportion of global production required for a couple of the metals:

    Iron: 0.01%
    Graphite: 10.77%
    Copper: 0.21%
    Aluminium: 0.05%

    This suggests the burden batteries would place on iron, copper and aluminium would be manageable. I know nothing about graphite, but it could be one to watch. I imagine the same analysis applied to nickel, manganese and cobalt batteries would be more cause for concern. Additionally the solvents might not be easily scaled up.
    Jul 14, 2010. 06:45 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Natural Gas Outlook Still Noxious [View article]
    Thanks for an excellent exposition of the current NG situation.
    May 16, 2010. 11:45 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Peak Oil and Higher Prices Have Disconnected in Public Awareness - For Now [View article]
    Great post, that graph is unbelievable. Oil projects take 5+ years to come onstream, so anything which hasn't started now will not be live until after 2015. Their graph is at variance to the UK Peak Oil Taskforce graph on page 20 of this pdf: ( Based on announced projects, Chris Skrebowski predicts 90.5mb/d of supply in 2015.

    Are we comparing like with like here, for example biofuels are about 1.5mb/d, are they included in Sweetman's graph? Demand could breach 90mb/d in 2015... if supply is only 80mb/d, then that's not good.
    Apr 13, 2010. 08:37 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Peak Oil Investments I'm Putting My Money On: Part II, Hydrogen and Vehicle Electrification [View article]
    Hi Ken,

    I actually did my undergrad thesis on getting hydrogen from aluminium. My focus was on generating hydrogen from aluminium pellets by the addition of water. This would get around the hydrogen infrastructure needed for hydrogen propulsion. I investigated a professor of engineering from Purdue's claims to have found a solution to oil dependence.

    It sounds too good to be true, and it is. The energy needed to recharge the aluminium into fresh fuel is huge, I worked it out to be 6 times as much energy per mile travelled as gasoline. It always has a higher CO2 footprint, also, even if you use say geothermal or nuclear energy to recharge the spent aluminium.

    Next there is the issue of these 'proprietary additives' AlumiFuel talks about to destabilise the hydroxide layer which builds up when the aluminium reacts with water. I can't find info on what they are, but there's a high probability they include gallium. The trouble with gallium is that worldwide production is about 95 tonnes per year. There are no gallium mines, you only get the gallium as a byproduct (from alumina production - bauxite contains about 50ppm of gallium). That would be sufficient for approximately 30,000 cars per year. That's to say nothing of the high cost of the aluminium-gallium fuel.

    AlumiFuel aren't making any bold claims about energy efficiency, although their website tries to convey a 'green' message, which I would take issue with. They may certainly be able to access niche markets like weather balloons and military where cost isn't an issue. I've seen numerous companies talk of getting hydrogen from aluminium, most of them seem to have vaporized.

    If you want to read a little more, here's a presentation:

    and a paper I wrote:
    Mar 22, 2010. 05:39 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Natural Gas Vehicles Won't Decrease Oil Dependence, Part VII [View article]
    Seeking Alpha is a US oriented website.

    I'm not writing a dissertation here. To analyse each and every market where there is an NGV vehicle would make for a very long article. There's a high probability of local factors for example:

    Governmenet subsidies
    Cheap production of gas locally
    High oil/gas ratios (other countries put a lot of tax on gasoline)
    Local air pollution (very bad in some cities)

    South America has half the world's CNG vehicles. According to wikipedia:

    "Conversion has been facilitated by a substantial price differential with liquid fuels, locally-produced conversion equipment and a growing CNG-delivery infrastructure."

    Peru has South America's largest natural gas reserves, for example.
    Mar 8, 2010. 11:00 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Why Natural Gas Vehicles Won't Decrease Oil Dependence, Part VII [View article]
    I'm sure plenty of people were positive towards ethanol, too. That didn't change much.

    Calling me a negative nancy also doesn't change much.

    There is no electric solution to road freight, maybe trains.
    Mar 8, 2010. 08:55 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment