Wind power remains an important element in the country’s renewable energy plans, based on the continued interest and investments of several large companies including Google, Citibank, GE, Southern California Edison, Siemens and Vestas, to name only a few.
Google in particular has invested in all forms of cleantech, but with a consistent focus on wind power. The company’s latest investment is $55 million for another major wind farm venture in central California, according to the Los Angeles Times (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2011/05/google-invests-55-million-in-kern-county-wind-farm.html).
This venture follows an earlier $100 million Google investment in the world’s biggest wind farm, the 845-megawatt Shepherds Flat Wind Farm now being built near Arlington, Oregon scheduled to be finished in 2012. The project developer, Caithness Energy, is using GE turbines and the power will be sold to Southern California Edison.
Onshore wind farms are one thing. Getting offshore wind farms done is unquestionably trickier. A year after federal regulators approved Cape Wind, the nation’s first offshore wind farm, and 10 years after regulatory review commenced on the project to be based in Nantucket Sound off of Cape Cod, construction still has not begun.
It’s also a tricky call for smallcap investors looking for opportunity in the wind farm industry. We have been following five companies involved in the industry to chart their progress.
Ann Arbor, MI-based Kaydon (NYSE:KDN, http://www.kaydon.com/) is a fair sized ($1.2 billion market cap) company that makes parts such as custom bearings for windmills. In 2008 they built a manufacturing facility in Monterrey, Mexico devoted to servicing the wind energy industry. A year ago the stock was trading for $45. As of mid-day May 25 its stock price was just below $36.
Fergus Falls, Minn-based Otter Tail Corp. (Nasdaq: OTTR, http://www.ottertail.com/) is an electric utility ($772 million market cap) that manufactures and markets wind towers and also distributes electricity in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. A year ago their stock was trading at $22.50; at mid-day May 25 it was $21.39. Its 52-week range is $18.24–$24.38.
Canada-based Western Wind Energy (TSX:WND, http://www.westernwindenergy.com/) is a small company ($94 million market cap) with more than 500 wind turbines in California. A year ago their shares were trading at $1.52; at mid-day May 25 they were trading for $1.63. Their 52-week range is $0.95-$1.76.
We have also mentioned two other non-U.S. companies. Japan’s Loopwing (http://www.loopwing.co.jp/) has created a design to greatly reduce vibration and noise compared to more traditional designs. And across the pond, privately-held, Suffolk-based Wind Power Ltd. (http://www.windpower.ltd.uk/) develops large scale vertical axis wind turbine technology. The company began as a small research group but now offers a range of products and services