“The Non-Solar Solar Stock to Save an Industry Today” (Nick Hodge)

Friday File look at the "Absolute Black" solar pick teased by Early Advantage

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, June 29, 2012

Nick Hodge started touting a new solar stock last night or this morning, and it’s already driving dozens of reader questions in to Gumshoe HQ. He’s selling subscriptions to his Early Advantage newsletter, which used to be called Alternative Energy Speculator, and he’d like $499 for access to this “free” report.

So naturally, I thought my favorite Gumshoes (that’s you, dearest Irregular) would like to hear about whatever stock he’s teasing. Let’s have a look, shall we?

Let me preface this, too, by saying that the folks at Angel Publishing (that’s Hodge’s publisher) have fallen in love with next-generation solar stocks before — and in at least one case, they’ve helped to drive a stock up to incredible heights in a short period of time. That was New Energy Technologies (NENE, trades over the counter), which I think they started teasing and touting under its earlier name in 2007 or 2008 but really jumped on in October 2010 with a huge and long-lasting ad campaign. That was accompanied by some press releases from the company and a bit of news coverage, but from what I can tell the “aggressive recommending” from the Angel folks was probably the primary reason that the stock went from about $1.50 to almost $8 for a few months before falling back down … it spiked again earlier this year, but has now fallen back to about where it was in mid-2010 in the $1.50 range (in this case it was Jeff Siegel, who ran Green Chip Stocks — the same newsletter we covered a few days ago that’s been renamed Power Portfolio). That particular technology was the “spray on film” that was going to be used on windows and revolutionize solar by making every window into a solar cell. I was awfully skeptical about it back then, though I know quite a few readers tried to trade those shares — hopefully they got out before the $8 turned back to $2.

So that’s the lead-in — that sometimes these newsletters get strongly behind a stock and it can go up dramatically over the short term even if the company hasn’t generated any revenue to speak of. It doesn’t always work, but it’s one way to play these — try to enjoy the ride that the newsletter gives a stock, but make sure to get out before you drink the Kool-Ade and start believing that the company is going to unseat GE or Apple next year. Alternatively, you can always pick up a handful of promising “next generation” stocks like these and hold them for years and years, hoping that the scientific breakthrough is real and becomes proven and that the story does really play out before someone invents a better technology or before the company runs out of money, but these companies are so small it’s more like venture capital investing — only you don’t get to sit on the board like a VC investor does, you do have to keep in mind that you’re counting on one spectacular company to make up for the dozens that fail before they reach critical mass.

I’m writing this little intro before I’ve looked at this particular stock they’re teasing this time around, that’s just a generic thought for “next big thing” microcap tech stocks, especially when they’re micro-micro-micro caps like the stocks often touted by this crowd (ie, $20-$50 million, so tiny that it’s really silly that they’re public at all, and small enough that even our little Gumshoe readership here could easily cause the stock to double if enough of you got excited about it in a hurry).

If you want another example, you need look no further than DNI Metals (DNI in Canada, DMNKF on the pinks) — that got sustained recommendations and re-recommendations from Nick Hodge starting in November last year and running through mid-March of this year, after which the really aggressive marketing that teased the stock seemed to die down a bit … and, whaddya know, the stock went from about 20 cents in November to a peak of around 70 cents in the first bit of March, and has pretty quickly retreated to about 25 cents again, arguably the “natural” level of the shares before they got a lot of newsletter attention. Despite the fact that these kinds of stocks are often touted and recommended as huge plays that will develop over years and decades, investors are conditioned to expect immediate returns and catalysts, which is often a bit of wishful thinking when you’re talking about very early stage companies who are just discovering or developing technologies … and these kinds of newsletter recommendations that promise the moon and stars delivered to your doorstep don’t tend to create long-term shareholders, so when the editor loses interest and moves on or the story changes, look out below.

With that in mind, what is the stock being pitched this time around?

“Even the White House knows it’s engineered for profits like the fastest-growing companies on earth…

“Why you need to buy this non-solar solar stock right now….

“I want you to buy shares of a very unique “solar” company.

“Before you do, though, you’ll need to check the price — and make sure it hasn’t already popped from around $1 to $21.

“You see, this company just created a unique technology that cuts the cost of solar technology in half… and doubles its power output.

“In other words, it would make solar energy as cheap — and sometimes even cheaper — than coal, natural gas, or nuclear.

“This is a breakthrough that already has the world’s largest manufacturers lined up for large contracts… so there really isn’t much time left…”

How can you help but be excited by that kind of language? But wait, it gets better!

“… this isn’t a “solar” company in the typical sense; it’s in the applied materials and licensing business.

“Plus unlike virtually every solar company in operation, these guys don’t need regular handouts from Uncle Sam or other governments to stay afloat.

“In fact, their business model and technological breakthrough are so perfect…

“ABC News reports: They recently got a call from the White House pleading the CEO to join an advisory group to give advice to small businesses.

“That’s right.

“The Obama administration — with access to business legends like Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Tim Cook — went to this company’s CEO for guidance on how to kick-start small businesses in America.”

Wow, a solar company that doesn’t need subsidies? Interesting … but what is it they’ve done that’s so awesome?

Well, they’ve apparently somehow made solar cells much more efficient — here’s the teasey bit on that:

“The L.A. Times thinks the company’s breakthrough could let solar panels operate at double their efficiency:

‘Breakthrough Could Double Solar Electricity Output

‘A new discovery from [censored] may allow photovoltaic solar cells to double their efficiency, thus providing loads more electrical power from regular sunlight.’ — The Los Angeles Times

“MarketWatch has boldly declared this technology will change the world:

‘Breakthrough Solar Technology a Game Changer

‘[The company] has lab results showing it can reduce the cost of solar power to the point it’s competitive with the lowest-cost fossil fuels. And it comes without the pollution and negative health effects you get when burning fossil fuels.’ — MarketWatch

There’s a bit of hooey to that, which I’ll explain in a moment, but let’s first ID the company by checking out a few more clues:

“Its business platform was designed from the ground up to mimic the most profitable companies in history and experience similar growth….

“In fact, as the CEO bluntly put it during a private meeting I had shortly before the opening ceremony of their new 4,000 sq. foot plant in Upstate New York: ‘Solar doesn’t work.’

“In other words, he’s well aware of the shortcomings of the industry and where the problems are.

“But he’s not in business to compete with them.

“Rather, his firm has invented the solution — one that can be used by all solar companies — that could finally make prices drop to the point where it’s a real, viable energy source…”

That part is basically about how the company is not going to make solar cells — instead, they’re going to sell the equipment to give solar cells the company’s special coating that dramatically improves performance, and they’ll use the “razor and blade” business model because they’re selling proprietary chemical formulations for those coatings and solar cell manufacturers will have to buy the supplies from them.

So what is the technology? Hodges is calling it “Absolute Black” — it’s basically a coasting that helps solar cells to absorb more of the sun’s energy instead of reflecting it away. Here’s how he puts it:

“‘Absolute Black’ Drops the Price of Solar in Half

“While it’s ready to introduce several solar advancements — advancements that could each make you quite wealthy…

“The first order of business (and something they commissioned a Russian Nobel Prize-winning scientist to help solve) is perhaps the most important… and the most profitable.

“Drop the cost of solar production in half

“A move that by itself could bring the entire industry on an even playing field with coal — and solidify this firm as the major supplier of the technology….

“While in New York, I was fortunate enough to have a panel coated right in front of me.

“It looked extremely simple. And in a way, it is.

“But what I witnessed is a patented process that no other solar manufacturer on the planet has the current capability or know-how of doing.

“As I already mentioned, making a coating is normally an extremely expensive, time-intensive, and dangerous process that requires massive machinery, high temperatures, and vacuum-sealed chambers.

“Everything this company does is done at room temperature, with nothing more than the setup on the screen, and it takes about the same amount of time as baking cookies.

“But it’s this process that is about to save the solar industry billions of dollars every year, dropping solar’s price per watt as low as coal’s.

“The final result isn’t just an industry standard covering…

“This coating traps 10x more light than the current standard”

And apparently this coating process can be easily incorporated by any solar cell manufacturer, and they’ve apparently already had inquiries from China, India and Italy who are waiting for the plant to come online.

Hodge thinks this $30 million company, priced under a dollar per share, will hit $11 as they supply the chemicals for their proprietary process and eventually ramp up to $21 a share as solar installations escalate — maybe even giving away the machines to get people to buy more chemicals.

More? He quotes the CEO:

“I know many of you have been wondering what’s 
been going on at our new Research & 
Development Center. I’ve recently returned from New York and I’m happy to report that our 
work there should pay off dramatically in the weeks ahead.”

You don’t often hear CEO’s issue statements like that about “weeks” — usually they say investments will pay off in the years ahead, so that has us thinking about more press releases and potential catalysts for the company in the very short term, which always gets the blood boiling.

And to borrow a line from Ron Popeil, “But wait, there’s more” …

“Information detailing how this company ALSO plans to double the power output of today’s solar panels

“When the CEO called me and told me his company had developed a technology that could change the world, he was only partly right.

“His company actually has two technologies that will change the world:

“The first one cuts the cost in half.

“The second one nearly doubles the power output of today’s best solar panels….

“… this same outfit that’s dropping the price of solar in half isn’t just going to help other companies increase output by a measly one or two percent…

“Rather, they’re going to double the current output!

“The science behind it is incredibly complicated…

“The easiest way to think of it is by picturing two panels stacked on top of each other — only neither is getting in the other’s way.”

We’re shown a diagram and given some more verbiage to explain this, but basically it means that the company has a stacked cell technology, with each layer absorbing different wavelengths of light and increasing the overall absorption. There are several other technologies and companies that are doing similar things to tweak the design of solar panels to allow them to absorb more energy, but apparently this company has some kind of unique twist.

So who is our little teased stock? Well, thanks to some misleading info in the tease that sent us off on a couple tangents (interesting though they were), the Thinkolator had to pensify on this one for a few minutes … but once we fed in the company details, we got our answer right quick — this is Natcore Technology (NXT in Canada, NTCXF on the pink sheets).

Which is not the company or specific technology referenced by that LA Times article that Hodge quotes … nor the firm in the press release that he attributes to MarketWatch (copywriters do this all the time — if a press release from a company is published on the MarketWatch website, or any other financial site you’ve heard of and ascribe some authority to, they quote the press release as if it’s an editorial endorsement from the publisher).

In fact, those two quotes are about two different technologies altogether — the first one is a breakthrough from a Texas research team on capturing more electrons from sunlight using a special nanotech plastic, it’s technical and involves words like “quantum” that give me the sudden urge to get up from my desk and go eat lunch to avoid thinking too hard, but there’s a pretty good explanation of it here. They released the results of that latest breakthrough in December and, again, it has nothing specifically connecting it to Natcore — this is a government-funded research project and it has not, as far as I can tell, gotten to the point where it’s been licensed to any companies to actually develop a commercial product … it’s pretty early days for that breakthrough.

Likewise, the other one is about a Canadian company that’s using concentrated solar thermal power — something that is also widely done in industrial scale solar arrays where the sun’s rays are focused to increase the intensity and then used to, in this case, heat water and run a steam turbine to generate electricity. The specific company tied to that particular press release is SHEC Energy in Saskatchewan, and they’re private. Again, it has to do with generating more energy from solar — in this case, more efficient heat collection, but it’s not connected to Natcore.

But all the stuff about our specific company that’s teased in here is about Natcore. They got quite a bit of attention from ABC News and from the White House back in 2010 when they signed a joint venture deal to do some manufacturing in China and became, at least briefly, a good story of a startup company that wants to manufacture in the US but couldn’t get things lined up right … and therefore a poster child for the need for better and more supportive US industrial policy (though as we saw with Solyndra, sometimes directly supporting startups doesn’t end well).

What Natcore was selling back then was just their deposition technology — instead of chemical vapor deposition, which is the standard for applying think nano-scale layers for stuff like semiconductor or solar cell manufacturing (we’ve talked about that before, it’s the basic technology for which CVD Equipment sells tools), they use a liquid deposition process that’s apparently less toxic and demanding. This is the basic pitch from Natcore’s website:

“We’re replacing the traditional thermal vacuum processes, such as CVD and PECVD (chemical vapor deposition, plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition, etc.) for making solar cells with our liquid phase deposition (LPD) wet chemistry process.

“We think LPD is the future of solar. It is at the core of everything we do. It results in solar cells of higher quality, and is safer, cleaner and less expensive than CVD. That’s why we’re using multiple LPD-based applications to make solar power cost-competitive with conventional power.”

So that’s their core technology for safer, cheaper manufacturing, which so far hasn’t led to much — but it’s early days yet, and they’ve buttressed it now with two add-on technologies beyond the deposition process that they think dramatically improve solar, the “absolute black” coating and the multi-spectrum layered cells. The liquid deposition process is licensed from Rice University and the scientist there with whom they’re partnering, as is the quantum multi-spectrum stuff, which is covered in a bit more detail in this press release. The “absolute black” silicon technology is licensed from the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), though apparently Natcore actually developed the coating based on that technology.

The liquid deposition process, which can theoretically reduce costs substantially, is really what sets Natcore apart and gives some hope that they can grow, though it might be the “absolute black” that gets them enough attention from solar cell manufacturers that they get a chance to develop it through to commercial production. They do have R&D assignments from a few solar manufacturers who are interested in different aspects of the liquid deposition and the absolute black layer application, and the company is, of course, optimistic — this is what the CEO says:

“These companies came to us because they were aware of our successes with LPD and black silicon. If the results are what we anticipate for these tests, these companies would very likely be significant near-term customers for our AR-Box, an LPD license, and the requisite chemicals.”

You can see the various webpages on their site that describe their technologies here — Hodge clearly took the images from these pages for the “Tandem Solar Cells” (that’s the multilayer, multiple spectrum cell technology). They also have an investor presentation up on their website, though it’s a bit old.

The company was founded by the professor behind the Science at Rice, Andrew Barron, and a few other people, including Brien Lundin, who you might recognize if you’re an active Canadian resource investor — he’s Chair of the board now. The CEO is Chuck Provini, who seems to be the entrepreneurial driver and salesman and money guy, he came over from investment bank Ladenburg Thalmann.

How about the current state of the company and their financials?

Well, it’s indeed tiny — so keep in mind those warnings I shared at the beginning of today’s note. The share price is right around 83 cents as I’m typing during the day on Friday, and the market cap is just under $30 million. Those are actually Canadian numbers, though the two currencies are extremely close to parity again (85 cents for the shares traded on the Venture Exchange in Canada would mean it should trade at about 81.5 cents in the US, and that’s also about where the pink sheets are trading now). I suspect that the stock was recommended to their subscribers on either June 4 or yesterday on Thursday, June 28, since those have been the most recent days when volume spiked over the past month, but it did also spike a couple times in April and May without additional “real” news (ABC News and others did cover it at the end of March, when the “Absolute Black” product was announced, which probably brought some buyers in), so the newsletter reports could have come out from the Angel folks or from someone else to drive interest over that time, too. They have at least been following the stock for long enough to get the attention of Natcore, and I expect Nick Hodge really did visit their R&D plant in Rochester, NY — he’s also listed as one of the analysts who covers the stock here.

And there’s a reason why they don’t have real financial results easily accessible on their website — this is still really an R&D and ideas company, they haven’t gotten enough traction to generate any real revenue yet. They trade for close to ten times their book value, which is whatever their assets are worth plus the cash — they report that as being about $2 million, which means that if you cut out the cash ($1.5 million) they’re not putting much value on their research lab or their equipment or licensed technologies. So you’ll have to decide for yourself how much you think those are worth. They have generated no revenue in the last twelve months and they’re burning through cash at the rate of about $650,000 a quarter as of the first quarter of this year. So if this pace is continuing or increasing — as I imagine it must be, since they are conducting research for companies — they’re going to have to raise more money within the next few months unless they book a substantial amount of revenue. Which seems optimistic to me, though the CEO exudes optimism.

The company probably isn’t really big enough to generate sustained investor interest just from press releases or standard quarterly reports, generally for a stock this size you need someone pretty aggressively touting the shares to get attention unless there’s a real financial breakthrough (ie, a contract signed that changes things dramatically, not just the promise of some R&D contracts). The company has gotten an impressive amount of news attention in the past, so they might again — but for good or ill, the stock will probably keep going up for at least a bit if Nick Hodge stays aggressive in pushing it and touting it to his subscribers and to new potential subscribers … or if they actually get a potentially lucrative manufacturing or licensing deal (I could certainly be wrong, but my guess is that it’s going to take more testing and lots more back and forth with manufacturers before — if — they get a major manufacturing line to use their technology, it’s hard to unseat an established manufacturing technology), but do keep in mind that the shares have already just about doubled since they sent out the press release about their “absolute black” product in March. I’m no accountant, but I was a little surprised to see that of their $800,000 or so in expenses in the first quarter only $32,000 was classified as R&D, a similar amount to the $27,000 they spent on marketing — maybe that’s because Rice University and its grad students already did the research and the lab folks fall under “wages and salaries” or “office expenses,” I don’t know.

I also don’t know if Hodge actually owns the stock personally — since he didn’t disclose the name of the stock in the ad he wasn’t really obligated to disclose his ownership — but I have noticed in the past that the Energy and Capital disclaimers generally say that their editors and writers are allowed to buy and sell the stocks they cover at any time. Hopefully they have rules to prohibit their editors from trading at the expense of their subscribers, most legitimate publishers have trading windows or restrictions, particularly when you’re talking about such a tiny stock whose price could be easily influenced.

Oh, and that quote about looking for positive news in the weeks ahead? That’s not actually from the CEO, it’s apparently from the Chairman, Brien Lundin — and it came out in January, so I don’t know if the R&D Orders were the good news he was looking for or if he thought they’d actually book some revenue from Rochester. His statement appears to not be on the company’s website any longer, but you can see it here.

I don’t own shares of this one, just to throw in my personal disclosure — though given the performance of past Angel Publishing teases of microcap stocks I would be a little bit tempted to throw some milk money at it to see if this one runs up as many of them have, with the caveat that I personally think the odds are long against the company’s fundamentals justifying a run up to $11 in the near future and I’d look at this as more of a trading opportunity based just on this newsletter coverage. Which, as you can imagine, is a risky bet because we don’t have any control over Nick Hodge and they could uncharacteristically drop this ad after a couple days instead of milking it for a few months. It’s also the case that this particular newsletter is $499, so that’s going to reduce the number of possible subscribers a bit, and I’m publishing this here just for the Irregulars, our small group of insiders, so it won’t get as much exposure from us as it would if I wrote about it for the whole world of free readers and Google picked up the page — certainly plenty of amateur gumshoes will come up with the solution on their own, and I’m sure the message boards will fill up with chatter about this eventually, but that kind of thing does not exactly form a strong foundation for a stock … it’s almost as iffy as trying to trade around the paid stock promoters who push complete nonsense picks our way all the time.

Still, I’m tempted by the speculative trade but I won’t personally trade this stock, at least not soon, since I’m writing about it here (buying a microcap stock and then writing about it to a few of my closest friends and then selling it after I’ve helped drive the price up would make me feel a bit dirty, even if it’s probably allowed by law as long as I tell you I’m doing it). What do you think? Intrigued by the potential and the possibility, or interested in trying to surf the attention this stock will probably get over the coming weeks (and willing to risk being the last one to hear when the wave of attention stops)? Let us know …

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Share Your Thoughts

ShowHide Comments (39)
    1. Dominique Asselin
      Jun 29 2012, 08:37:28 pm


      I’ve been personally a shareholder since 2009 of this company. Can’t say it’s an easy stock to own since they blow up every commercial milestones they announce. For example, they stated in gthe abcnews article that they would have a completed functional black silicon solar panel by end of may which didn’t materialize. However I do feel that this company can truly generate substantial revenues just from their ARBoxes (for the anti-reflective coating) product line. Either it’ll work as advised and every solar cell manufacturer will be forced to adapt to this paradigm shift either they’ll go out of business.

      They could have thrown ARBoxes more rapidly into chinese solar manufacturing lines but they choosed to delay that option to reinforce the security of the IP of the controls of the ARBox and they decided it was better to have black silicon included before selling it.

      The only “scary part” short term is the possible financing that could come out after a good run but again, they only have 42M shares diluted and their cash burn rate is not that high..

      The great thing about this year is that due to their exclusive black silicon agreement with the NREL, they have commercial milestone that must be met this year (I don’t have the formal milestone but it looks like it is somewhere in Q3) in order to maintain the validity of the licence.

      They say they do have several offers already on the table for funding of their technology but they’ve been reluctant to get into JV because of the condition under which the JV where presented. Their plan is to finish the ARBox with black silicon and then they’ll get more leverage in negotiation about the control of their technology..

      So basically if they finish their black silicon PV solar panel it might goes really fast because JV are already in discussion (Phono solar is so convinced that theyll be the ones that they have posted on their site that they have a collaboration with Natcore which was never confirmed by Natcore management: http://www.phonosolar.com/technology_innovation.php ) and news about sales might comes next.. So yes there is a potential for a major move this year and I do hope for it. The only thing about Hodge presentation that I personnaly found misleading is that Tandem cell technology and Roll-to-Roll is technology are not near commercialisation, it might take 1-3 years before we see something that can be really commercialized and a lot of thing can change in the meanwhile but the ARBoxes is a very specific component of the solar cell manufacturing chain and the advantage (cheaper, better and greener) are there.

      One thing to note also is that Natcore is not just about solar, it’s about coating. They grow stuff on stuff which means that once they got to the point where they can expand, they’ll have a lot of others area that their LPD process will make an impact, the semi-conductor industry is another example where they could score really big..

      Anyway, if someone has some question I’ll be happy to share my knowledge of the company as I think they now have a reasonable chance to succeed in the short term.

    2. 16 |
      Michael Cumming
      Jun 30 2012, 12:12:58 pm

      Hard to not invest when ever the LUNDIN FAMILY is involved. Remember Africa Oil and so many other companies that have soared a few thousand % or more???? I will be in on Monday!
      Papa Mike

      • Dominique Asselin
        Jul 1 2012, 02:01:34 pm

        Newsletter writers like Hodge are part the game as are overpaid WallStreet analysts and site like this one..

        I wouldn’t buy anything based on a recommendation from any of those guys alone but there is a lot of credible organizations that stamped that their LPD process is not a fluke:

        – Batelle Institute Lab (where they initially tested the LPD process)
        – Rice University (where it all started with Dr. Barron)
        – IEEE (http://www.natcoresolar.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=157&Itemid=75)
        -NREL (http://www.reuters.com/finance/stocks/NXT.V/key-developments/article/2499658)

        I highly doubt that any of these organization would jeopardize their reputation just for a quick pump and dump..

        Hodge and Energy &Capital might push it ahead of its time regarding it’s real value but if it happen and that no substantial news get out while the volume is fading away than I’ll be happy to sell 50% of it and wait to buy back my original position with a nice profit.. I think it’ll be an interesting stock to watch in the summer and early in autumn..

    3. Julian Wong
      Jul 2 2012, 04:03:07 am

      I have been following this stock for about a year and have seen this stock climb from $1 to $4; it hit a peak of $7.80 in 2010. Needless to say, NENE has not produced a decent stream of income to date.

      Having said that, I am interested in its technology and the involvement of NREL in several developments: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/energy-technologies-inc-national-renewable-131500473.html

      Also, it seems that a seasoned glass executive has come onboard to take charge of the commercial development: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/energy-appoints-proven-executive-introduce-131500388.html

      I am wondering if NENE could still be labelled as dodgy, if there are serious scientists involved in its development? http://www.newenergytechnologiesinc.com/new-energy/new-energy-appoints-business-partnering-and-scientific-experts-to-advance-technology-able-to-generate-electricity-on-see-through-glass

      Any new comments? I am itching to invest…

    4. Sandra Wilson
      Jul 7 2012, 06:16:31 pm

      I just love the way these spruikers think their opinion is worth so much money. I got an email from a company offering a “lifetime” membership – whatever they meant by that, and it was going to cost me nearly four grand. Of course there were sweeteners of around a so-called value of a grand, for free. Ha, ha. So I wrote back to them sincerely thanking them for the best laugh I had had all day. Strange, I didn’t get a response. Well, it was a good try by them. You have to give them full marks for trying, I suppose.

      • CosmicRambler
        Jul 30 2012, 03:54:54 pm

        I too am a present owner of the stock. I’ve known about it for a very long time, followed its development, bought more over time.

        This is not some scam or your typicial promoted stock. The present promotion is a bit of an accident, they stumbled on it, nobody tried to get them involved. AFAIK Natcore has never paid for any type of promotion. They are getting more and more coverage in the Technical type of pubs.

        Dominique Asselin covered a lot of the basics above, there is one super advantage they might bring out in this first technology development. Black Silicon or Absolute Black (it is called both) might eliminate the need for flat PV panels to have to track the sun if you want super optimun gain for the day. Basically they form a bunch of lil holes and things like micro mountains on the surface and the panel does not care what angle the sunlight hits it. It get bounced around in the cranny(s), holes, the lil thingees sticking up and gets absorbed. Just standard reflection off the surface that happens with all objects is dramatically reduced too. Like less than 1%.

        Expand this feature over an entire solar power farm, you are talking a mega deal. Just the costs of installations, no tracking motors, massive advantage in terms of maintenace, etc. It is not just panel costs, total costs as installed and operated is the bottom line. This feature can generate as much as a 30% difference between panels with it and without that do not track. Could be total game changer in the real World.

        The deal with the five solar companys to do R&D should fill in some of the blanks about how competitive the advantage will be. Different companies may apply the technology different, this does not have to be a one size fits all.

        Look for the first commercial sales this year, it will start as more a technology demo’s first, evaluation and all the rest of the things any company must do to incorporate it into their own products. Once a few adopt it, I would expect the advantages will be significant enough, other must follow or fade. Just the idea of the PV panel does not have to track the sun in either one or two axis mode for best performance is a slam dunk. Plus it all should allow manufacturers to lower panel costs. It is unknown what it might do to things like panel working life, but I would expect some positive changes there too. More info is needed after a lot more testing as fully fab’d designed panels.

        This is not a one time deal, technology advancements will continue over time, if they can get a few sales, go cash flow positive, work their way up and get some traction in the industry, sky is the limit. They have started to attack and find a number of the Holy Grails that the solar industry has been talking about for years. This is applied science at its best with a game plan to get results. Lot of work and effort has gone into it at this point, already they have solved Black Silicon, lots of folks tried, most just talked about it. Even the DOE agency didn’t solve it in terms of practical deployable technology, they asked Natcore to do it after considered a number of possible companies. Great recognition of the talent and capabilities.

        • 27
          Apr 16 2014, 11:44:54 pm

          Great information. Thanks. I own the stock and am buying more. I lack the technical expertise in this field, but your explanation is quite compelling.

    5. CosmicRambler
      Jul 30 2012, 09:52:02 pm

      If nobody mentioned it,
      Nick Hodge was at the lab in Rochester and they gave him a tour and demo’d how a wafer is coated. There is a video of it somewhere. Might be on the Website. Don’t know if big Nick absorbed any of it. That boy really can sling some trash. Never lets the real World influence his wild future views of a new World Order.

      Every once in a while more by accident he stumbles into a mini tech company that might actually amount to something. If Natcore can pull off the first couple of technology advancements in solar, they can be in a World by themselves. Just about nobody else is structured to try to achieve ever increasing advances that might actually be put into production by the various companies in the industry. They only need a few of the larger companies to get interested. Once tried I would expect the use of the techniques to spread rapidly. Not all companies may do it exactly the same. A sort of innovation by interaction and use is possible. Feedback from many sources. The solar field in general is a lot more talk than action. Has been for years. The break thru’s are always just around the corner.

      The ideas in Absolute Black might be able to be applied to other materials than just silicon. Many of the things Natcore is trying to do probably can be piggy backed on each other. The idea of Quantum Dots and building a cell in layers which is able to target the full spectrum of sunlight including IR probably could still use the idea of a coating of Absolute Black. Natcore was supposed to have already produced some small working prototype models in this area.

      If you push it far enough, there is an idea of being able to make a photon multiplier technology where one electron gets knocked out and it starts a cascade effect like a night scope. Again most approaches might use materials arranged in lil mountains or a type of bump and then shape it just so, while trying to apply something akin to photo-electronics type developments in other layers. So one idea maybe can morph into a number of things which would completely change solar power. They aren’t starting over on every idea. A bunch of other companies and people are also sharing ideas, in a way they are becoming a place to visit, ideas can get turned into real World products. They aren’t trying to build large factories themselves. Could be interesting if somebody like GE finally comes calling. Like said before no shortage of folks who would want to fund things but most all of them want far too exclusive rights, maybe that will happen in some other technology areas. Things like medical and some of the other areas mentioned on the website. Much is still a work in progress and with the last funding they have enough for probably the better part of a year, by that time cash flow will have started.

      Natcore is in the old Kodak industrial complex. Has gotten some of the former Kodak employees and will probably be able to plug into what Kodak expertise was in thin film technology at some point in time. A bunch of that equipment and consultants are available to them also. Compared to most other research type developers they get a lot more success for a lot less money. A bunch of delays and missed deadlines in the first couple years but they should more on track now. Have pretty good local support. Shame all the wasted government money, none was able to be sent their way. One of the local Rep’s in Congress is supposed to be still trying.

      • 27
        Apr 17 2014, 12:03:01 am

        So they have their technology patented? If not, a big company with far more resources
        will simply step in and take it all over. You guys are much more technologically savvy
        than me, but I like the feel of this company. Read an interview with the CEO, and was impressed. So, I’ll keep buying It’s a privilege to be on this thread with so many level-headed, well-informed people.

    6. CosmicRambler
      Jul 31 2012, 12:16:50 pm

      There is even more that I can add to the understanding.

      So much depends on a manufacturer being able to meet performance standards on a big job. It is a mix of factors. Right now there is a huge potential solar farm in planning in Serbia.

      One of the EU makers is MX and has been stated to potentially be the successful bidder. MX is probably one of the five companies already signed up for R&D service from Natcore. In the past they did not make the wafers, got them from China, assembled into panels. Now they want their own full assembly plant, making their own wafers. Probably going to be thin silicon. Much of that can not go thru the conventional vacuum ovens. Those vacuum ovens ain’t cheap either, use a lot more power than Natcores method. MX also has a plant in NJ, about 20 odd miles from Natcore, there is a history of them cooperating.


      But how do they ensure they get the Serbia deal? The panels have to be sold based on merit. Part of it is going to be all about that incidence angle of light thing again. You have to be able to control that to get the performance level up, flat panels want the angle to be 90 degree all the time. Even with that up to 7% of the light can bounce off. So normally they have to track the sun, that all adds costs. To be spot right on all the time, you have to go to two axis tracking.

      MX is faced with the problem all the manufacturers have right now. How do they get their hands on new technology that will ensure they get the jobs they want? Just being able to cancel out the incidence of light thing is huge. Apparently Natcore’s approach also can work on cloudy days. Light comes from many angles, even tracking is sort of defeated. Weather is a factor in many ways. Only one successful method to put a Absolute Black coating on a solar cell has been demo’d, that is Natcores method.

      It takes forever for the solar industry to adopt new technology. Conversion rates took over 30 years to double from like 7% to 14%. There isn’t a lot of break thru technology just laying about, especially something that could be adopted fast. Just Black Solar and potentially Quantum Dots is a huge, huge deal, that alone could make a lot more projects possible. Natcore’s methods can make approaches by others also possible. There are newer methods to slice silicon very thin, no sawing, no waste, lower material costs but it hasn’t been employed much because the thinner wafers cannot withstand the higher heat required in vacuum ovens to get an anti-reflective coating. Natcores cold method can work. Part of that is probably in the works in the present R&D ventures underway now. Change can come from a number of angles.

      There is a potential large solar farm project talked about fairly close to my house. Same deal, sort of on again, off again. Present technology really can not be geared to meet the numbers game it must, when played against the economics. What Natcore can offer at the present could be the tipping point right now. Subsides is a bad word in much of the World now, lots of pressure to get out of doing it. If solar can be sold on its own merits, it will totally explode in many countries. Philippines and many of the island nations of the Far East is prime territory for starters.

      So it is a game of get cutting edge technology and employ it fast. The Japanese at some point should be calling on Natcore to get a look. They are at that stage right now where a meaningful determination of advantages can be made with real equipment in operation.

      Poor Nick and the other guys in many ways have no clue. We probably have a few more months to go to have the first real answers on how well the technology works in actual working panels. Can you get a wild run up in stock price? Yeah, if the technology works, the manufacturers are going to use it, they have no choice at this point. For Natcore most of the income should be profit. We still need the advantages to be fully expressed in a numbers sense but already those who follow it close have a foggy feel. Reflectance goes to squat, as much as a 7% total gain in conversion under some conditions. Depends on how you are talking about numbers. Using net collection numbers is the most meaningful. Weather and angle of incidence of the light rays can be handled without tracking.

      Japanese will come calling. Again, they want to vastly expand their own home grown solar industry. Where do you get the technology to have projects make sense in economic terms? Natcore has to remain firm they will not allow any one country or company to demand exclusive rights. Once a few use it, that demand can be brushed off. I would look for MX to be one of the first to sign up.

      If the technology works as well as I think it will, just the first batch being offered now, the stock can go up to $11 in no time flat. Questions about how long for certifications, look for very fast track methods to be used. There have been attempts to project what Natcore’s earnings can be. Still not fully understood how they will attempt to price things on this first batch. Apparently different phases of technology in the pipeline might get priced different. If you can get to Quantum Dots, they probably can demand a fee for every wafer as part of the license.

    7. laehc
      Aug 2 2012, 02:08:55 pm

      Can anyone say how the tec compares to Oxford Advanced Surfaces anti-reflective coatings, which they say “can be processed using common wet chemistry techniques”


      I’ve got a small speculative holding in them. It’s a tiny UK company and I would guess it’s not easy for non-Brits to invest in, also I wouldn’t advise buying an AIM-listed share unless you know the pitfalls.

      I’m not expert on solar panels, but as for panels needing to face the sun, I think there are two issues. The first is that the proportion of light reflected depends on the angle of incidence. The second is that if you rotate the panel so that it’s shadow is half the size (on a constant plane), only half as much light will be falling on the panel. So even if the amount of light reflected is too small to matter, it might still be worth rotating the panel, although that depends on factors such as the cost of installing and running the motors.

      • CosmicRambler
        Aug 4 2012, 07:12:47 pm

        I don’t think Oxford Advanced and Natcore are trying to do exactly the same thing. For Natcore the final surface is a highly textured pattern in a micro level with a particular design that can “Bounce or reflect” light in maybe multi ways to allow it to be captured in maybe something approaching optimum. Not only is the surface sticking up in a nano level but they are drilling nano holes in certain places forming something kinda like a moon cratered surface at a super micro level. This can be a bit of word game but it also means general normal reflective rates can start to approach zero, they have stated numbers like .3%.

        New PR out, they now can use copper instead of gold or silver in doing all this micro etching stuff. It is not just doing a type of coating but making it very engineering based design with particular functions being built into the results.

        I’ve sort of built solar collectors using something along this line with tin cans. The cans formed a type of “Well” where if the sunlight hit at a glancing angle it tended to get reflected down into the can, maybe even multiple times and had no good direct reflection path out of the collector. At some point it was absorbed by some point of the metal surface of the can. The total collector did not have to track the sun, I even built a mirror relector to direct other sun into the collection area. At some point, Natcore might even be able to try something along that line. If you can solve the collection angle in general a number of approaches might be possible. PV’s tend to be temperature sensitive but it might be another potential Holy Grail to be tackled. Game probably just starting. Lots of players. Natcore has come a long way in a relatively short time.


    8. blackjack
      Sep 23 2012, 11:50:03 pm

      all good reading and sleuthing
      but making solar panels is a dirty business and requires power – generated by fossil fuels
      so a maths pro would be able to see how much power (fossil fuels) it takes to make and install these panels then go and spray the things with black stuff (more power and trucks etc) – to get and end result of what?
      My hunch is that it will go down well with the tree huggers but in the end the World will be switching to gas. Some bean counter in the USA has done the math and to keep more people in work and on the roads spending and paying tax with less reliance on the Middle East for oil – then its gas
      So a percentage of this solar works then I would be investing in graphite for the batteries and graphene.

      Good luck all but I will be bailing out of the markets in Jan 2013 as after the euphoria of the elections, Christmas and New Year, reality bites!!!

    9. Paul
      Nov 19 2012, 04:12:16 pm

      Nick Hodge is pushing the stock again today under the heading “Obama’s Biggest Green Energy Blunder” a laugh considering that the Department of Energy sponsored a significant amount of the research behind the technology. Recently, NatCore said that it survived Sandy and will be selling a product soon, whatever that means.

    10. CosmicRambler
      Nov 19 2012, 09:59:29 pm

      You could view what Natcore is doing as a work in progress. Difficult to time when they might have a first sale. But I believe they will get there.

      But understand the backdrop to the entire solar industry. Basically they are in trouble. Technology has not advanced enough to make the business a self sustaining one without some ongoing form of external financial support. Lots of internal changes happening within the industry as they attempt to adjust to various forces.

      Natcore may be able to do it in lil bunny hops. The Black Silicon could be a start. A far bigger step would be being able to market some form of quantum dots and the ability to build tunable spectrum cells in layers. Potential for maybe that happening in 2013 in some preliminary manner. A first sale by Natcore would be a biggy. It is one thing to claim technology advancement, another to be able to put into some type of production. The other thing about Natcore, they could / would offer any technology changes over a large range of manufacturers. It takes a fair effort, money and time to make any real changes in actual production schemes.

      Number of the big players are dropping out of the solar game. Siemens among them. Nothing is for certain but a few successes by Natcore can have huge effect on the entire industry.

      Couple that to potential demand by a number of oil producing Middle East countries. The demand can be there for solar, somehow they have to make the technology work at something approaching break even. I would try to divorce Nick Hodge and Natcore in any constructive discussion. It is an accident Nick stumbled on to Natcore, if anything he is confusing various issues. About the last person to give solid advice on any tech stock. His total understanding of the solar game is badly flawed from so many angles. Would be nice if he went away and let Natcore do their thing without his speal.

      • joe
        Nov 21 2012, 12:16:50 pm

        How dirty is the whole solar process and if it is very dirty can it be cleaned up?
        It is hard to think of a dirtier and deadlier process than the production and processing of traditional fossil fuels.
        Some time in the not to distant future, the belief system of today is going to be viewed as we view the belief system of the dark ages.

    11. Jeff
      Feb 20 2013, 08:11:17 pm

      Looking at the chart it looks like the last Nick Hodge pitch caused a spike in the stock price.
      Looking at the company I would call this a development stage outfit with potentially credible prospects. Their claims seem credible but seem to be some time away. The latest Panasonic claims for solar cell efficiency might put a dent in their prospects.

    12. Bosko
      Sep 7 2013, 11:17:51 am

      Hello Travis.I just recently i recieved an email about a tiny $2 stock teaser that can stop pollution and increase solar power aparently. Would you know anything about this penny stock? Any feedback would great.

    13. Keith Lanter
      Nov 30 2013, 05:57:26 pm

      Just found this little jem, A black diamond I think! Still waiting for news about R & D milestones, anyone?? NTCXF is in the same building as UNXL- the little stock pushed by WSD stock letter, 800% in under 18 mo. They use roll to roll w/copper also, but are having problems with yield. I’m long, under $1, 1/2 – 3/4 position. Looks promising.

    14. Dietmar Berg
      Jul 4 2014, 04:24:57 am

      Well, Nick Hodge has again fired up a campaign…
      But considering the companies latest news, we might actually be a lot closer to something tangible than in 2012: http://www.natcoresolar.com/news/latest-news/

      A $1.00 company just created…
      “Absolute Black”
      Energy costs will now plummet… as the share price only heads higher.

      Dear Reader,
      I didn’t think I’d utter these words for at least another decade.
      But in the next few minutes, shortly after you’ve seen this presentation…
      I want you to buy shares of a very unique “solar” company.
      Before you do, though, you’ll need to check the price — and make sure it hasn’t already popped from around $1 to $21.
      You see, this company just created a unique technology that cuts the cost of solar technology in half… and doubles its power output.
      In other words, it would make solar energy as cheap — and sometimes even cheaper — than coal, natural gas, or nuclear.
      This is a breakthrough that already has the world’s largest manufacturers lined up for large contracts… so there really isn’t much time left…

    15. BAPTY.s
      Jul 27 2014, 05:59:18 am

      Great reading all this analysis and excitement on these new developments. If solar is making good positive progress ,certainly seems to be a great potential field in energy sector. Solar cost comparisons also need to be viewed in diff countries in context with availability of resources of coal, gas and oil and the distance of transporting these from pit head or source origin to power plants, and the infra needed.
      Low quality coal puts up the cost quite considerably.
      For investors it will be interesting if above knowledgable commenters could throw some light on. Efficiency percent of P.V conversion to make solar competitive with other power sources. Nick hodge claims ABSOLUTE BLACK will make efficiency jump from around 17 percent to say 34 PERCENT, is this possible.

    16. Jim Leavenworth
      Nov 13 2014, 10:12:11 am

      Travis, I just saw a vider from Nick Hodge touting a devise for qc of solar panels developed by one George Howels. Naturally Hodge is claiming the stock of Howels company is going to the moon. Any clues about the name of this company?

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