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Maxwell, Soitec in Clean Energy Pact

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Maxwell Technologies, Inc. (MXWL - Free Report) has received a $1.39 million contract from the California Energy Research and Development Commission for the designing and integration of an ultracapacitor-based energy storage system with Soitec's Concentrating Photovoltaic (“CPV”) system.

As a result of this contract, Maxwell has collaborated with Soitec for a two-phase program to demonstrate the cost and efficiency benefits of combining an energy storage system with Soitec's Concentrix CPV technology. The project will be implemented at two sites – one at the Soitec CPV system in the Univ. of Calif., San Diego campus and the other at a commercial scale Soitec solar power plant in Southern California.

In order to take 100% advantage of the incorporating ultracapacitor energy storage, the system will also utilize other advanced technology, which includes solar forecasting and predictive energy control. The work on the contract is expected to begin this month and get completed by Nov 2015.

Ultracapacitors are energy storage devices that charge rapidly from any electrical energy source and discharge their stored energy on demand. Maxwell’s ultra capacitors store energy in an electric field. This electrostatic energy storage mechanism enables ultra capacitors to charge and discharge in fractions of a second, perform normally over a broad temperature range of -40 to +65 degrees Celsius, operate consistently through one million or more charge/discharge cycles and resist shock and vibration.

Soitec's new fifth-generation Concentrix CPV systems are made up of modules with a 30% market-leading module efficiency which is equivalent to two to three times the efficiency of conventional PV technology. The CPV system has a two-axis tracker installed on it that enables a high and constant power production throughout daylight hours. With the help of concentrator optics and high-efficiency solar cells, the system converts sunlight directly into clean electricity.

The fusion of these two high tech products will act as a standby reservoir of electrical energy and will lessen the variability of solar energy generation. Besides fulfilling peak power demand, the integrated systems will help California in reaching its goal of 33% renewable generation by 2020.

Last month, the company reported preliminary numbers for the fourth quarter 2012 and first quarter 2013. During the fourth quarter of 2012 and first quarter of 2013, invoiced shipments were $41.9 million and $46.6 million, respectively. Invoiced ultracapacitor shipments in fourth quarter 2012 were $26.1 million. The number increased 27% sequentially to $33.1 million in the first quarter 2013. Invoiced shipments of high voltage capacitor and microelectronics products were $15.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. These shipments declined 15% quarter over quarter to $13.4 million in the first quarter of 2013.

Although the hiccups remain with the recent notification letter from NASDAQ as the company is not in compliance with NASDAQ Listing Rule 5250, the company is continuously taking initiatives to expand its ultracapacitor production capacity to meet increasing demand. It continues to monitor ultracapacitor demand indications and intends to adjust its operating plans accordingly. The company received the notification letter for not filing its annual report on a timely basis with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the period ended Dec 31, 2012.

However, going forward, we expect top-line growth to be fueled by the expected increase in ultracapacitor sales through a production ramp-up for automotives. The company is also focused on improving its cost structure and the steady demand from heavy transportation, wind, braking recuperation and automotive programs continue to act as tailwinds. The company presently retains a short-term Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Other well-placed stocks are LightPath Technologies, Inc. (LPTH - Free Report) , Stoneridge Inc. (SRI - Free Report) and AU Optronics Corp. (AUO - Free Report) . While LightPath Technologies and Stoneridge Inc. hold a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), AU Optronics holds a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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