Seeking Alpha


Send Message
View as an RSS Feed
View JLBR's Comments BY TICKER:
Latest  |  Highest rated
  • American Superconductor Hits Micro [View article]
    Storage, eh? Should also be boon times for Axion Power and good ol' Beacon Power, now in private hands.
    Feb 11 12:32 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • The Safest Way To Invest In Tesla And SolarCity [View article]
    tdwhitney – Tesla stock has indeed done well. Wish I had purchased a bunch of it! I generally try to avoid investing in fads because you never know when the bubble’s going to burst, and I don’t see Tesla as providing more than the appearance of a long-term solution to serious problems. As I said, they make fabulous sports cars which use exciting new technology (as you say), have huge appeal (for those who can afford them and are willing to overlook environmental effects in the near term), and apparently set new standards of safety (see: Tesla is helping stimulate awareness of the possibilities of non-gas-powered vehicles and generally creating a market for non-combustion based transportation, all of which are good. And, by the way, Tesla doesn’t need government incentives even now, because only the rich can afford such eco-bling anyway, and they don’t need the $7,500 tax credit.

    You say the grid is “soon” going to be powered by renewable-generated electricity. Not in my lifetime! Look at the data.

    My point about the failure of government energy policies, written up in Grossman’s book (, is to encourage some skepticism toward government ideas for solving our energy problems. It’s impossible to read that book and not wonder whether it’s even possible for the political process to lead the country to rational solutions in energy; politicians just follow fads, too. This is where critical thinking really comes in. He cites example after example of how government attempts to create new commercial markets have cost tax payers billions and in most cases actually set back innovation. “As long as elected officials think they will reinvent fire,” Grossman says, "negative outcomes are inevitable... If the U.S. government is to be effective [in effecting energy solutions], it must proceed from a different premise… -- [from] the awareness that legislation and top-down directives are limited in what they can achieve.” One of the greatest mistakes is the "Apollo Fallacy," the idea that if the government pours a ton of money into any highly innovative, technological venture, it will succeed and costs of the technology will inevitably come down. Tesla stock is now riding that same fallacy.

    This week Americans are finally at least trying to be intelligently critical about foreign affairs and international policy. It would be nice if we also hold the government accountable for its failures in energy policy.
    Sep 7 10:35 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Safest Way To Invest In Tesla And SolarCity [View article]
    Touched a nerve, eh! But you need to re-read my comment. My problem is not with green energy companies. I’ve been researching and carefully investing in them for years, working hard to separate out the wishful thinking from the sustainable reality. My problem is with companies masquerading as green but promoting increased fossil fuel consumption, Tesla being a case in point; it sells fabulous and very novel sports cars, and it certainly is raising electric power trains to a new level of engineering. That’s good. But Teslas run on coal, the worst GHG polluter of all. Don’t kid yourself. Sure, you’ll say, one day all electricity will be from renewable sources. But is that an excuse for polluting even more now, as the planet heads deeper and deeper into trouble each passing year? The amount of rare earths and Lithium (do you think these things don’t come out of the ground?) used in one Tesla could provide the second batteries for a hundred or more gas-electric, stop-start hybrids which collectively would reduce GHG emissions -- by very significant amounts -- TODAY.

    And if you really want to get serious about green energy, take a look at this recent book, “US Energy Policy and the Pursuit of Failure” by peter Z. Grossman. Not one single government-sponsored attempt to stimulate new energy or “solve the energy crisis’ going back to the nuclear initiatives under Eisenhower has succeeded. Not one! Government energy policy is putting our planet at risk. So, tdwhitney, get over your blind acceptance and do some critical thinking.
    Aug 17 12:26 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 260: August 15: 10Q Filing For Q2; Two Axion Forbes Articles; John Petersen On PIPE Mechanics & Incentives [View instapost]
    Thanks, John. Looks solid into the 2020's. I like to focus on sources of risk. I wish we could get a "patent guy" to go over those patents and ponder with us the possibility that some other battery technology might emerge that has similar properties.
    Aug 16 04:48 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 260: August 15: 10Q Filing For Q2; Two Axion Forbes Articles; John Petersen On PIPE Mechanics & Incentives [View instapost]
    How strong and robust is Axion’s patent position? Axion’s value as an investment depends not just on its near-term opportunities, but its ability to maintain that advantage for a long time.

    This surely is a factor in its negotiations with possible second source suppliers – whether for BMW or anyone else. If I were already a major player in the battery business -- particularly if I had just been asked by BMW to start making a not-invented-here technology that just might revolutionize the industry but would catapult an upstart into industry dominance -- I think my first reaction would be to work very hard to determine scientifically exactly what it is about the carbon electrodes that gives them their advantages, and then I would be trying to come up with an alternative of my own invention. Industries are not kind to patent holders for key processes that they all depend on. Most competitors chafe pretty badly at having to pay royalties.
    Related question: anyone been keeping an eye on developments in DARPA-E? I know batteries are their number one priority.
    Aug 16 12:04 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Safest Way To Invest In Tesla And SolarCity [View article]
    Exactly what I figured. Don't blame you at all. They're great sports cars! But they do nothing to "save the planet. Maybe just bling in your case, if the eco-bling part didn't appeal to you. However, you did nonetheless receive a $7,500 tax rebate for Tesla's supposed contribution to saving the planet. And if it's really just peanuts to operate, then you must be getting your power from coal.
    May 29 12:25 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • The Safest Way To Invest In Tesla And SolarCity [View article]
    Elon Musk is not the only thing that Tesla and Solar City have in common. They also share the fact that they are selling to an unsustainable market of badly misled customers, encouraged to feel smug and pious for "saving the planet," yet they are accomplishing practically nothing to actually reduce green-house gas emissions -- Tesla because their cars run on coal, and who really uses them much, anyway (they're just selling fantastic sports cars). And Solar City because manufacturing those panels uses so much carbon-based energy. Ecobling! Ecobling! Are we ever going to get serious, instead of religious and romantic about carbon-free energy!!
    May 28 01:24 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Insider Sales Suggest EnerNOC Is No Longer Undervalued [View article]
    Excellent points in this article. But I think your description of ENOC's business is a little simplistic. Through some strategic acquisitions a few years ago, they actually offer some very sophisticated services relating to energy efficiency (EE), as well as "demand response" (DR), DR being the service of cutting back on electricity use -- and getting paid by the grid operator to do so -- when grid demand is too high. EE usually requires purchase of expensive equipment, but ENOC's solution enables, I believe, cost effective steps to be taken to improve EE in coordination with DR revenues too. In fact, I believe ENOC's real value proposition is careful integration of both DR and EE both technically and financially.
    Jan 22 01:29 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Qualcomm's Sharp Investment In Display Tech [View article]
    What HAS happened to QCOM's mirasol technology? As I recall, it had great visability in bright daylight. Surprised mirasol isn't mentioned in this article.
    Dec 11 09:25 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power: A Battery Manufacturer Charging Forward [View article]
    Thanks! And Axion's PbC technology is a strong contender for micro-hybrids, less so but still somewhat for mild-hybrids, and not at all for heavy-hybrids?

    What (which) application would Toyota be interested in? Not the Prius, I take it.
    Nov 23 03:03 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power: A Battery Manufacturer Charging Forward [View article]
    Hate to ask yo to repeat yourself. But please explain the difference between micro hybrids and mild hybrids. I've been thinking that the main distinction was between plug-in vehicles (which run on coal) and non-plug-ins hat get their extra energy from regenerative braking.
    Nov 23 12:01 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power: A Battery Manufacturer Charging Forward [View article]
    This just shows that Tesla has a strong and wealthy niche market. After all, the desire to own and show off expensive, beautiful ecobling cars, while basking in the moral high of planet-saving self-righteousness, is a strong driving force. No matter that those great cars are powered by coal-burning generators. It's an ok business model, for while it lasts, based on fashion and political correctness.

    Unfortunately, it has almost nothing real to do with truly reducing GHG emissions or creating sustainable growth for an eco-friendly industry, free of undesireable externalities. Tesla sells "no clothes" to emperors. In contrast, the sheer size of the growing micro-hybrid market, combined with the fact that non-plug-in hybrids really do contribute to GHG reductions, makes them a sustainable business.
    Nov 23 11:54 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Demographic-Neutral Alpha: Lululemon Vs. Tesla [View article]
    Hope you enjoy it. I hear they're great performing sports cars. I'm waiting for my new Hybrid Rav-4.
    No nasty fumes, eh? Better stay upwind of the nearest coal-fired generating plant.
    Nov 21 02:01 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Demographic-Neutral Alpha: Lululemon Vs. Tesla [View article]
    You can't be serious!!! Yes, both Tesla and LuluLemon sell into markets driven largely by fashion. But comparing the market for stylish, high-priced ecobling (Tesla's cars) to a market composed of style-conscious, athletic women is absurd. Tesla offers no sustainable solution to any real world problem, a fact which will surely catch up with them sooner or later, although the demand for attractive, high-performance, coal-burning cars that give their owners a feel-good moral high can admitedly have legs for a while. LuluLemon meets real women's real needs for attractive workout wear; that's very sustainable; as a recent S-A article ( pointed out, LULU's model is attracting many competitors and the company faces its own marketing challenges. Tesla, in contrast, will probably have the ecobling car market to itself for as long as it lasts; I wonder why. Sorry, LuluLemon sells real clothes, while Tesla sells "no clothes" to emperors.
    Nov 21 01:35 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Energy Storage: Q1 Earnings Omens and Bright Spots [View article]
    Marquant --

    It was the ISOs themselves who decided that dispatching of storage resources needed to follow both ACE and SOC. A 50% SOC is of course always best but not always possible, and it trades depth of charge for frequent changes in direction.

    "The ISOs concluded that the greatest value could be gained from storage if the ISO considered state-of-charge when scheduling and dispatching storage providing regulation." A storage resource has "characteristics of both generation and load, but only for a limited time. It should be managed by State of Charge and sometimes provides Regulation like a generator (only injecting energy), sometimes like a load (only withdrawing energy), but primarily as both."

    I accept your suggestion that non-linearities limit that value of comparing pure technologies -- which we are all too prone to doing. For example, I've learned that full power operation (4C) reduces efficiency for the moment, but because of fast-first and PFP, it improves effectiveness and profitability. All that really matters is having the lowest cost per MW of FR service provided.

    I do think it's relevant, though, that flywheels themselves have round-trip efficiency of 99% (I'm not sure what you mean in saying the self-discharge rate of batteries is lower). The rest of the ~15% operating costs is from balance of system (electronics, cooling, communications, etc.) and that will surely improve over time with flywheels; it has already, I believe, from the prototype in ISO-NE to the Stephentown plant. 80% EBITDA still seems attainable for Beacon, as I see it. I don't know about Altair-Nano.

    Quick other comment: if the grid actually does get "smoother" then I would certainly want to be operating the lowest cost FR facility out there, but I really may not want to be in the FR business at all in that case. Fortunately, the need for FR is growing. I'm pretty comfortable with the idea that it's the low-hanging fruit in grid storage.
    May 29 02:28 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment