360° Coverage : Better Than Dollars Per Watt

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Better Than Dollars Per Watt

Apr 29 2014, 8:02am CDT | by

Disclosure: Long BEP.  Short PEGI $20 and $25 puts, short PEGI $30 and $35 calls, short NYLD $40 and $45 calls. I recently sized up five renewable energy power producers using the metric that’s most...

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13 weeks ago

Better Than Dollars Per Watt

Apr 29 2014, 8:02am CDT | by

Disclosure: Long BEP.  Short PEGI $20 and $25 puts, short PEGI $30 and $35 calls, short NYLD $40 and $45 calls.

I recently sized up five renewable energy power producers using the metric that’s most often used for solar panels: Dollars per Watt ($/W).  It’s an intuitive metric, but has serious flaws both for evaluating solar installations and stocks.  Slightly better is Watts per Dollar (or W/$100 to make the numbers look nice) as shown in the chart from that article below.

The main advantage of W/$100 over $/W is that it’s additive: I can meaningfully stack the capacity contributions from various fuel sources.  (I.e. BEP has 7 Watts of wind power, 33 Watts of Hydropower, and 2 Watts  of cogeneration for every $100 of Enterprise value, for a total of 7+33+2 = 42 Watts of capacity per $100.  You can’t perform a similar calculation with the number of dollars you have to invest in BEP to get a Watt of each type of energy production.)  That said, W/$100 retains the other disadvantages of $/W, most importantly that different types of power plants are used in different ways.

Baseload plants such as geothermal run nearly constantly, while variable resources such as wind and solar produce variable amounts of power based on climatic conditions.  Dams allow hydropower to respond somewhat to demand for power, but run-of-river hydro facilities are totally dependent on water flows, and seasonal and annual flows are dependent on precipitation.

One way to account for all this is to look at annual energy production in GWh per year.  The data from the following chart is taken from each company’s 2013 annual report.  I had to drop SolarCity (NASD:SCTY) from the list because I could not find energy production data.

Ormat (NYSE:ORA) and NRG Yield (NASD:NYLD) only reported aggregate energy production for 2013, so I made some assumptions based typical capacity factors to allocate production between Ormat’s geothermal and waste heat operations, and between NRG Yield’s wind and solar farms.  Ormat’s products business which sells equipment to other geothermal and waste heat recovery operations is scaled based on the relative revenue earned by each segment, while NRG Yield’s thermal businesses provide heat or cooling, and are shown in thermal kWh, which typically have lower value than electrical kWh.

A new category which does not appear in the W/$100 chart is Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners’ (NYSE:BEP) Storage business.  This takes advantage of extra capacity in its hydroelectric dams buy pumping water back behind the dam when during times of low electricity demand, and allowing that water to flow back through the turbine and generate electricity when demand it high.

It’s interesting to note that Ormat and Brookfield look most attractive when evaluated on annual energy production, while NRG Yield looked best based on capacity.  This is because hydropower and geothermal are typically being used at closer to their potential output more of the time than solar and wind, and much more than NRG Yield’s thermal assets.   This variation is captured by a power plant’s “capacity factor,” which is the percentage of its theoretical maximum production it actually achieves.

The following chart shows the capacity factors actually achieved by these four companies in 2013:

Note that I had to guess at the relative capacity factors for NRG Yield’s wind and solar operations, since the company only provides aggregate energy production data.  In any case, NRG’s total renewable energy production is large relative to its renewable energy capacity,  so we can conclude that its wind and solar farms are in good locations for those resources.  There were no such complications with PAttern Energy Group (NASDAQ:PEGI) since all of its generation is wind power.

Final Thoughts

Annual energy production is still a very incomplete picture of the value of these company’s operations.  The value of electricity depends greatly on local market conditions, as well as the time and season.  Nor do any of these charts include the companies’ expansion plans.

Can we conclude anything from this series of charts comparing power produces by $/W, W/$100, annual kWh/$, and capacity factor? Perhaps only that it’s impossible to sum up a company’s operations in a single number, or even a hundred numbers.  Not that this will be a surprise to anyone who has cracked open a company’s annual report.

On the other hand, I never know what I’ll find when I decide to look at companies using a new metric.

 
Update
10

7 weeks ago

RM47mil KWSG contributions still unclaimed

Jun 9 2014 7:54am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: About RM47 million of contributions in the Teachers Provident Fund (KWSG) still remain unclaimed, the D ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
9

7 weeks ago

Gold shop lost almost RM1mil

Jun 9 2014 3:50am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KANGAR: A gold shop owner lost almost RM1 million after after the safe on in his shop was broke ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
8

7 weeks ago

Motion to debate MAS losses in Dewan Rakyat rejected

Jun 9 2014 3:39am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: AN emergency motion to debate the losses incurred by Malaysia Airlines last year, amounting to RM1.2 billion was reject ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
7

7 weeks ago

MH370 Tragedy: Hisham: RM27.6 mil spent on 1st phase of SAR

Jun 9 2014 2:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia spent some RM27.6 million in its first phase of the search operations for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, said Acting Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Hisham ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
6

7 weeks ago

9.1m litres of diesel seized in a month

Jun 8 2014 1:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism ministry has seized some 9.1 million litres of diesel and property worth RM58 million since mounting ‘Operasi Diesel Selatan’ in the southern states last mont ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
5

7 weeks ago

Girl, 9, awarded RM2.78m compensation for medical negligence

Jun 6 2014 4:56am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: A nine-year-old girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a government hospital was awarded over RM2.78 million in co ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
4

7 weeks ago

Malaysia's total trade in April up 12pc

Jun 5 2014 11:52pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's total trade in April 2014 rose by 12 per cent from a year ago to RM123.86 billion due to growing trading activities, International Trade and Industry Minister Da ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
3

8 weeks ago

Works Ministry to spend RM20m for upgrading works at 50 accident black spots

Jun 4 2014 11:35pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

JOHOR BARU: The Works Ministry will implement upgrading works at 50 accident prone locations in the country that have been identified this year involving an allocation of RM20 millio ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
2

8 weeks ago

Najib launches loan scheme for Ramadan traders

Jun 4 2014 10:24pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launches RM45 million Ramadan Bazaar ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
1

8 weeks ago

Residents bring up objection against Kidex to Suhakam

Jun 4 2014 4:49am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A group of 20 Petaling Jaya residents held a meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) over their objection against the proposed RM2.2 billion Kinrara Damansara Sk ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 

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