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The Generals Stir Up Cleantech

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Two cleantech developments caught my eye today.

First was the announcement by General Motors (NYSE: GM  ) that the company will build its own batteries for the Chevy Volt, one of several electric vehicles recently on display at the Detroit Auto Show. GM will tap LG Chem -- distinct from LG Display (NYSE: LPL  ) -- for the lithium-ion cells that will go into the battery packs.

This is a pretty significant blow to A123 Systems, a company that I recently identified as a top cleantech company to watch in 2009. Whether this whiff will affect A123's IPO aspirations remains to be seen. The company does have other projects in the works, such as a smart-grid solution in tandem with AES (NYSE: AES  ) . But the Chevy Volt would have been a very high-profile win for the much-ballyhooed start-up, not to mention a significant source of near-term cash flow.

The other general -- General Electric (NYSE: GE  ) -- issued a press release that led to a big share price pop for potential partner A-Power Energy Generation Systems (Nasdaq: APWR  ) . The two firms signed a letter of intent -- only a prelude to a hard, fast contract -- for the supply of more than 900 wind turbine gearboxes, beginning in 2010. Given the share bump, one might think A-Power, a new entrant into the wind power space, won the supply award. On the contrary, GE is the supplier here.

The second part of the announcement makes A-Power's pop more clear. The two companies are also forming a gearbox assembly joint venture, which will operate under the GE Transportation moniker. By choosing to partner with A-Power, GE is demonstrating a very significant vote of confidence in the Chinese player.

A-Power's shares have really gotten hammered since their summer highs, so you can imagine the relief of investors here. Financial concerns aside, GE is a dream partner, given its marketing and manufacturing know-how. Unlike some of the odd short squeezes we've seen this month, Monday's share price move appears well justified.

A-Power is rated a respectable four stars by Motley Fool CAPS participants. Make your own call right here.

Fool contributor Toby Shute is active in CAPS under the name TMFSmashy, but he doesn't have a position in any company mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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  • Report this Comment On January 13, 2009, at 12:39 AM, lowtechie1 wrote:

    Please keep focused on that fact that the Chevy Volt is anticipated still to come on line with a puny 10,000 cars in 2010, about 3-5% of what they need to make a splash in supply for overhyped demand, and the price is speculated to be $45,000. They are trying to

    recover costs fast on the consumer's backs. A piss-poor way to do business in America in these times. These aren't gold-plated Benz's, you know !! Let's see, I keep my 2009 Corolla averaging 37 MPG. Hows many decades will I have to run that Volt to match my great gas sipping Toyota?

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