Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Agassi, Ofer meet IEC execs on electric car bid

Globes reports that Shai Agassi and Idan Ofer, the heads of electric car venture Project Better Place, met a group of Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) executives a few days ago to review the technical feasibility and costs of establishing a network of electric recharging stations for the cars.

Agassi and Ofer asked IEC for a proposal for the supply of electricity to the stations at a reduced group tariff. The price of electricity is a critical factor for calculating the costs and profitability projections for Project Better Place.

The parties discussed a range of technical issues relating to the deployment of the recharging stations, but no conclusions were made. Among other things, Agassi and Ofer asked for a study of locating recharging points at people's homes, where their cars could be recharged overnight. The parties also discussed when during the day car recharging should be carried out.

IEC said that if most recharging is made during the night, where there is surplus production capacity, the electricity rates would be lower. However, overnight recharging will require Project Better Place to reduce the number of vehicle rechargings in real time and speed up development of a battery replacement mechanism.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Exxon Mobil partners with Ben Gurion U. to develop hydrogen fuel system

ExxonMobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), QuestAir Technologies Inc., Plug Power Inc. (Nasdaq:PLUG) and Ben Gurion University of the Negev are collaborating to commercialize an on-vehicle hydrogen production system for use in a fuel cell-powered lift truck application.

According to Cleantech.com and Globes, Plug Power will seek to commercialize unique technologies developed by ExxonMobil, QuestAir Technologies, and Ben Gurion University that take liquid fuels - gasoline, diesel, ethanol or biodiesel - and convert them into hydrogen onboard the vehicle where it will be used in a fuel cell power train.

"By developing a system that converts liquid hydrocarbons into hydrogen directly on a vehicle without the need for storage, we hope to demonstrate significant infrastructure, logistics and cost advantages compared to other hydrogen vehicle systems, all while reducing the impact on the environment," said Emil Jacobs, VP of research and development at Exxon Mobil Research and Engineering.

BG Negev Technologies and Applications Ltd., Ben Gurion University's technology transfer company is responsible for the university's share in the program. The university is represented by the Blechner Center and Prof. Moti Hershkowitz. The university and its partners have been developing the individual components that make up the on-vehicle hydrogen fuel system. Sulfur is controlled by an ExxonMobil proprietary S-Trap developed in conjunction with the university. Plug Power will be responsible for integrating the fuel system with its GenDrive fuel cell power system for lift truck applications.

Globes notes that a competitor to this project is Israeli start-up Enginuity Ltd., which is developing technology to produce hydrogen on-board the vehicle as needed, utilizing a modified internal combustion engine with a zero emission solution. Investors in Enginuity include the Ormat Group and the ATI - Ashkelon Technological Industries incubator.

Desalination company IDE set for IPO

Delek Group Ltd. (TASE: DLEKG) and Israel Chemicals Ltd. (TASE: CHIM) announced that they plan to float at least 25% of their joint venture IDE Technologies Ltd. on the London Stock Exchange. Sources tell Globes that IDE plans to raise up to $200 million at a company value of $500 million, before money.

IDE was founded in 1965. The company develops both thermal and seawater reverse osmosis desalination - the two prevailing technologies for seawater desalination, and is active in 40 countries, including China, India, Israel, Australia, Latin America, and the US. It has designed and built more than 370 facilities to date.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Renault mulls Israeli electric car plant

BusinessWeek is reporting that French carmaker Renault SA is studying a possible plan to build a manufacturing plant for electric cars in Israel.

Renault is exploring a potential partnership with Israeli entrepreneur and high-tech star Shai Agassi, company spokeswoman Rochelle Chimenes said on Wednesday.

Agassi and his partner Idan Ofer have founded an eco-minded joint venture called Project Better Place, aimed at helping reduce greenhouse emissions by building a network of charging stations for electric cars across Israel.

Israeli-born Agassi, a former executive of software maker SAP AG, said October 29 he had raised $200m. in initial funding from Morgan Stanley, Israel Corp., VantagePoint Venture Partners and private investors including Edgar Bronfman Sr. and James Wolfensohn, former head of the World Bank.

If Renault decides to get involved, an agreement could be signed in the first half of 2008, Chimenes said.

Last week, Globes reported that the car at the heart of the project will be based on the Renault Megane, which will be equipped with high-performance electric engine based on advanced fuel cells.

Israeli water tech co Blue I bound for Olympics

Globes is reporting that Israeli cleantech start-up Blue I Technologies Ltd. will supply real-time water quality control systems for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The company has an office in China and is participating in a Veolia Water projects with Shenzhen Water Group Company Ltd. and the City of Shanghai.

According to Globes, Blue I has also installed its water analyzers in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for the South American Water Championships; the Olympic swimming pools in Tokyo; Eurodisney in Paris; a hotel project at Sun City, South Africa; and in Israel, including the water parks Yamit 2000 in Holon and Hamei Gaash.

Established in 2002, Blue I's investors include Tene Capital and Docor International.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Solar energy start-up XJet raises $9m

According to Globes, Israeli start-up XJet Ltd. has raised $9 million in its first financing round from Gemini Israel Funds, Swiss investment fund Good Energies, Taiwanese semiconductor equipment manufacturer Spirox and private investors.

XJet is currently operating stealth mode. According to a press release, the company's vision is to redefine solar cells cost efficiency through the introduction of innovative, next generation deposition technologies. Helping an oil free world future, the solar energy industry has to dramatically grow its capacity and accelerate its cost reduction. XJet is among the first companies in the world to focus on the solar fab and provide the solar cell manufacturers with dedicated highly efficient tools.

This is the second cleantech investment by Gemini Israel Funds. In August, the firm invested in efficient lighting company Metrolight.

Ofir Baharav, XJet's CEO, said, “For years Hanan Gothait, President and CTO, and I have been aspiring to combine our skills and create a meaningful company. Accelerating the adoption of solar-generated, environmentally friendly energy sources is a most worthy cause. We feel fortunate to receive the backing of such a prestigious investment consortium; this is a critical step towards realizing our mission”

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Technion forum: Israel can be global biodiesel leader

Israel can become a global leader in the development of crops for biodiesel production, concludes the 7th Energy Forum sponsored by the Samuel Neaman Institute for Advanced Studies in Science and Technology at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology. The forum aims to position Israeli renewable energy research and industry on the world map. (Read the full article here.)

Energy giant Petrobras seeks Israeli cleantech

Sources inform ''Globes'' that Brazilian energy giant Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) is examining Israeli cleantech for possible investment and is mulling establishing an R&D center in Israel.

Busy week for water technologies

More than 2000 visitors and 100 delegations from 80 countries worldwide attended the WATEC conference last week in Tel Aviv to survey the latest developments in water and environmental technologies.

Israel is a global leader in the water sector, and a number of new deals and agreements were announced at the conference. Below is a summary.

  • Government launches new water R&D program. The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor today launched Israel NEWTech - Novel Efficient Water Technologies, the government program to promote Israeli water technologies. The program aims to double water technology exports to $2 billion by 2010.

  • Mekorot nearing strategic cooperation with GE. Water industry sources inform ''Globes'' that Mekorot National Water Company is in advanced negotiations for a strategic cooperation agreement with General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) for the construction of the $450 million 100-million cubic meter desalination plant at Ashdod.

  • Israel-China 'water-trade' to rise significantly. Israel expects "to significantly increase" its water technology exports to China over the next few years following a successful round of meetings between National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Chinese water-technology leaders attending WATEC Israel 2007.

  • Israel and Mexico in water treatment deal. The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, and Mexican National Water Commissioner Jose Luis Luege Tamargo have signed a water cooperation agreement between Israel and Mexico, NEWTech - Novel Efficient Water Technologies director Oded Distel told “Globes”.