Monday, April 28, 2008

Leviathan Energy to provide clean electricity for India

I just received the following news from Leviathan Energy.

Leviathan Energy Ltd., based in Israel, and Maple Leaf India PVT have signed a letter of intent for a $50 million-plus contract to provide clean electricity for India. The two companies met during a recent India-Israel renewable energy summit organized by Israel’s MATIMOP and India’s GITA for the promotion of science and industry.

The letter of intent covers three points: (1) Leviathan Energy will provide aerodynamic improvement technology for the development of Maple Leaf’s 450 MW wind farm in Kerala, India. The wind farm itself will provide over 900,000 homes with electricity and prevent the emissions of 450,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the environment. (2) The parties will cooperate on development and implementation of Leviathan’s ocean wave energy technology in the Indian Ocean. (3) The parties will partner to manufacture Leviathan’s Wind Energizer for local use in India.

Raul Goldemann of MATIMOP, director of the India-Israel program, said, “We had a successful trip to India, and found tremendous interest in Israel technology.”

Maple Leaf India PVT is a subsidiary of Maple Leaf Canada, with interests in the fields of energy, communications, lumber and real estate.

Leviathan Energy is a startup company with inventions in large and small wind, wave, tidal, and hydroelectric energy. It is operating an experimental wind park in Rotem Industrial Park in Dimona, and is initiating projects for its hydroelectric and wind turbines. For further information about Leviathan Energy and investment opportunities, contact Emmalee Mandel at

Sunday, April 27, 2008

TechnoSpin Wind raises $8m from 21Ventures

TechnoSpin Wind has raised $8 million from US venture capital fund 21 Ventures, according to a report in "Globes". The company declined to disclose its valuation for the fund raising round.

TechnoSpin was founded in 2004 but not incorporated until the end of 2007 at the start of the latest funding round. The company was funded initially by its three founders, CEO Maxim Rakov, VP Business Development Natalie Barlev, and Vladimir Kotler, CTO and inventor of the company's technology.This is 21 Ventures' third investment in an Israeli cleantech startup, following previous investments in BPC BioPetroClean and 3GSolar (formerly OrionSolar).

TechnoSpin currently has two areas of activity. One is the development and production of rotors for small wind turbines which, theoretically, should also be suitable for use in large wind turbines. The company is already negotiating the first sales of these products which, it claims, are not limited to areas with strong winds, are cheaper to produce, and can be assembled anywhere in the world. TechnoSpin's small turbines will most likely compete with those produced by the industry's two leading players, Bergey Windpower Co., and Southwest Windpower of the US.

TechnoSpin's other field of activity is the development of wind turbine gears. Turbines are operated by a generator and a gearbox, which produce torque that is then converted into electrical power. The gearbox is, essentially, a mechanical mechanism which enables the torque to be generated with the minimum loss of power.

According to Rakov, "Our goal is to launch a pilot with the gear with 11 of the world's leading turbine manufacturers, and if it is a success, the sky's the limit, since it won't be limited solely to wind turbines, but will also be suited for use in aircraft, cars, washing machines, the mining industry, metalworking - any mechanical facility that produces electricity.

"As for the small turbine, we'll be making a launch in May when we erect the first product on our own roof. We've already had initial sales in this project. We're currently negotiating a number of sales with potential customers overseas while in Israel the interest is coming from potential distributors," Rokov told Globes.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Israeli water technology in the news

What follows are links to a few recently published articles related to Israeli water companies and technologies.

Interview with AqWise CEO Elad Frenkel

AqWise last month raised $3.6 million to support its growth plans, which center on its AGAR (Attached Growth Airlift Reactor) technology and ecological water sanitation process for municipal, industrial and aquaculture wastewater treatment. In this interview, CEO Elad Frenkel discusses the global wastewater market and Aqwise's prospects.

"Stream Control" takes the pressure off water pipes

Stream Control, a graduate of the Yozmot HaEmek technological incubator, has developed a device called the Aquaguard Smart Pressure Reduction Controller, designed to ensure proper flow of water through municipal pipes, thus preventing leaks and saving both water and money.

CEO Shlomo Avitbul discusses the company in this article on Israel21c.
"We just finished a major project in Jerusalem's old city, where our installations reduced leakage by 35%," Avitbul says, adding that the product is set to be deployed in a number of other cities in Israel in the coming months. The company is also working on several deals in Europe - specifically Spain, Germany, and Italy.

New technique adds magnesium to desalinated water

Technion researcher Dr. Ori Lahav has developed a new technique that cheaply introduces healthful magnesium ions to desalinated water.
In a few months, a semi-industrial plant will be set up adjacent to the small desalination plant at Kibbutz Ma'agan Michael to try out the process in the field. It is expected to supply 400 to 1,000 cubic meters of mineral-enriched desalinated water per day. The new process will be presented at the upcoming conference of the Israel Water Association.

Dr. Lahav is a scientific adviser to AquaPure Technologies.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ormat signs deal with Great River Energy

Ormat Technologies announced today that one of its wholly-owned subsidiaries had executed a new 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Great River Energy (GRE), a Minnesota cooperative corporation of Elk River, Minnesota, for electricity to be produced by a new ORMAT Recovered Energy Generation (REG) facility.

The new facility will have a net capacity of 5.3 MW and will convert the recovered waste heat from the exhaust of an existing gas turbine into electricity. The turbine is located at a compressor station along the Northern Border natural gas pipeline and Ormat has already secured the rights to the waste heat for the new facility.

Ormat CEO Dita Bronicki said, "We are encouraged by the increased attention to energy efficiency and the confidence in our REG technology. Using clean solutions such as Ormat's REG units is a win-win strategy all around, providing both parties with one of the cleanest, fastest and most cost efficient ways to generate power while reducing carbon emissions. While each of our REG power plants along the Northern Border pipeline is only about 5 MW, when combining the opportunities along this one pipeline alone, we are generating power equivalent to the capacity of one of our 50 MW geothermal power plants."

Ormat expects the plant to be commissioned in 2009 or early 2010. With the addition of this new REG facility, Ormat will owns a total of nine units with an installed capacity of nearly 50 MW along the Northern Border pipeline which are currently under operation and under various stages of construction. This is the first Ormat plant in Minnesota, a state that has enacted a Renewable Portfolio Standards program. The Ormat REG facility consists of an ORMAT Energy Converter (OEC) based on Organic Rankine Cycle technology, which converts recovered heat to electric power without the need for any additional fuel or water. The OEC unit is environmentally benign, as it has no emissions of CO2 or NOX.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

IQwind named a Top 100 Tech Startup by Red Herring

IQwind Ltd., which is developing an innovative gearbox to improve the efficiency of wind turbines, was named by Red Herring as a Top 100 Tech Startup in Europe for 2008. It is one of 14 Israeli companies to make the list.

IQwind was established in 2007 and received early-stage funding from Terra Venture Partners. The company was founded by Gideon Ziegelman, formerly an entrepreneur in residence at Precede Technologies, and Nimrod Eitan, an experienced mechanical engineer who now serves as the company's CTO.

Deutsche Bank: Project Better Place has "the potential to eliminate the gasoline engine"

Deutsche Bank has reportedly sent analysts to look at Project Better Place's business plan and concluded that it could be a "paradigm shift" that causes "massive disruption" to the auto industry.

"We see a potential for a paradigm shift in the way vehicles are owned and fueled," the analysts wrote in the report, which Wired News obtained from Project Better Place. "Looking at Better PLC's model, we conclude that a pure EV should not be more expensive than a gasoline/diesel vehicle."

According to the analysts, a typical contract would cost $550 a month and provide 18,000 miles a year. Project Better Place would run the charging infrastructure, allowing consumers to charge their batteries at home or at public charging stations.

Deutsche Bank found Project Better Place customers would pay 7 cents per mile for fuel, even after accounting for the cost of electricity and depreciation of the battery. That is very competitive when compared to the 24 cents per mile Europeans pay for gasoline and the 15 cents per mile Americans are paying (at $3 per gallon in a 20 mpg vehicle).

The report even goes so far as to say that Project Better Place's approach has "the potential to eliminate the gasoline engine altogether."

Deutsche Bank also predicts that "entities in 5-10 countries are in the pipeline to announce deals with Better PLC over the course of this year", in addition to deals already signed in Denmark and Israel. The bank also expects other automakers, beyond just Renault and Nissan, to work with the company.

"Frankly, we are not aware of any reason why they would not sign up for this, as the automakers do no need to commit capital for infrastructure of for batteries under Better PLC's business model," they wrote. "We think companies such as Better PLC have the potential to drive significant change in the global auto industry."

Related Posts:

Better Place secures $350 million series B round led by HSBC

Better Place unveils battery switch technology in Japan

Better Place and Hawaii to partner on electric car project

Better Place and Haifa to cooperate on electric car infrastructure

Better Place raises €103 million, names new Danish CEO

Michael Granoff, leading cleantech investor, interviewed by Ynet

Michael Granoff, a leading investor in Israel's cleantech sector, was recently interviewed for an article published on Ynet.

Granoff, the founder of Maniv Energy Capital, discusses his connections to Israel, his interest in cleantech, and his investments in Project Better Place and Israel Cleantech Ventures.

It is definitely worth reading. In addition to his role as an investor, Granoff is currently an "Oil Independence Specialist" for Project Better Place, where his "mission is to advance our ability to move countries off of oil by giving them a policy framework to speed the conversion from gas to electric drive. In advancing that mission, I also am responsible for generating public support for these policies."

The Ynet article is in Hebrew. For those looking for English information, I recommend checking out this blog post, in which Granoff outlines his views on energy security and cleantech and discusses the origins of Israel Cleantech Ventures and Project Better Place.

"Australia should learn from Israeli desalination"

A Melbourne University scientist says Australia could learn a lot about water efficiency from Israel.

Ray Ison traveled to Israel with a delegation of Australian farmers, conservationists and government officials, paid for by the Jewish National Fund.

While he says there are some environmental problems with water from the country's desalination plants, Professor Ison says much of Israel's agriculture depends on irrigating desert land, and most of that water is recycled.

"Much of the water comes from recycled urban use," he said.

"Some of it comes from several processes in agriculture, so you may have fish farming, followed by algal production, or bio-proteins and other things in water, it might go onto plants, so they maximise every drop of water in the integrated production systems."

Source: ABC Rural

Monday, April 14, 2008

Breakout quarter for cleantech investments in Israel

The Cleantech Group reports that the cleantech sector in Israel experienced a breakout in the first quarter of 2008, with $132 million invested across nine companies, the highest ever for the country.

The record results were driven mainly by a $105 million investment in solar thermal concentrator company Solel Solar Systems, but are nevertheless impressive.

Israel Cleantech Ventures is ranked as one of the Top Five Global Venture Investors (by number of participations). The fund reportedly invested $16.6 million in 4 deals.

Overall, cleantech investments in North America, Europe and Israel totaled $1.25 billion in the first quarter of 2008, up 42% from the same period a year ago.

See: Cleantech Group press release.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Cleantech Israel group featured in Globes

The Cleantech Israel meetup group was recently featured in "Globes", and I am re-posting the article below. Highlights and a photo from the group's first event are also available on this blog.

Cleantech Israel enables people (including entrepreneurs, investors, academic researchers and government officials) to meet and exchange ideas about the renewable energy, water, and environmental sectors.

The group's next event, on April 29, will include a presentation by Alon Tamari, Co-CEO of SolarPower Ltd., followed by time for networking. You can join the group and RSVP for the next event at our web page.

"Globes": Cleantech industry networks in Israel

About 50 representatives from various parts of Israel's cleantech industry recently met in Herzliya Pituach to launch a networking initiative. They included venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, Ronit Golovaty from the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute and even Jaclyn Marcus from the California Public Utilities Commission. The meet-up was organized by Jonathan Shapira, from Boston, and Gene Dolgin from Tel Aviv. The Cleantech Israel group currently has 134 members.

Jonathan Shapira is a law student from Boston who is currently serving an internship with Israel Cleantech Ventures, where Gene Dolgin is an analyst. The US law firm of Goodwin Procter LLP, which has an extensive Clean Technology Practice, sponsored the meet-up. Shapira says that he will soon be working for the firm.

Shapira and Dolgin, aware that there are similar cleantech networking groups in places like Boston and Silicon Valley, decided to organize the group to enable key players in the industry in Israel - entrepreneurs, investors, academics, and government officials - to meet and exchange ideas. Shapira notes that while Israel has many strengths when it comes to cleantech, the lack of government support, especially when compared to what is happening in other countries, may hold the industry back. He hopes that members of the Cleantech Israel group, together with other organizations such as Waterfronts - Israel Water Alliance, and the newly created Israel Energy Forum, might be able to persuade the government to implement better policies related to renewable energy, clean water, and the environment.

Shapira told "Globes", "Gene and I decided to organize the network together, and we received a strong response, especially from entrepreneurs and investors. Other parties quickly joined, including academics and a few government officials.

The participants at the Cleantech Israel meet-up included former Gemini Israel Funds partner Tali Aben; Genesis Partners principle Gil Dibner; Terra Venture Partners LP general partner Dr. Harold Weiner; and Israel Cleantech managing partner Jack Levy. Levy noted, "Although Israel entered cleantech late, great things have emerged here within only three years, on both the entrepreneurs and the funds side."

Participating entrepreneurs included low-cost regenerative fuel-cell developer Enstorage Ltd. CEO Eran Yarkoni, wastewater treatment solutions developer AqWise Ltd. VP business development Udi Leshem; Emefcy Bioenergy Systems CEO Eytan Levy, who previously co-founded AqWise; Phoebus Energy Ltd. CEO Yoav Ben-Yaacov; Ashkelon Technological Industries (ATI) cleantech director Rafi Nevo; and Noam Ilan, who is the project manager of the alternative energy park under construction at the Eilot Regional Council in the southern Negev.

India, Israel to collaborate on cleantech

Industries from India and Israel will collaborate in developing renewable energy technologies, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) announced in New Delhi last week at the conclusion of a seminar on the subject.

Leading Israeli companies involved in solar power, wind energy and others were in India to exchange views with their Indian counterparts as part of the seminar, organized by the Indian Department of Science and Technology (DST), the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, the Global Innovation and Technology Alliance (GITA), the Israeli Industry Center for R&D (MATIMOP) and the CII.

The seminar was a follow-up to Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal's 2005 trip to Israel, when it was decided that the two countries would collaborate in the fields of environmental technology, water management, space technology, biotechnology and nanotechnology.

DST Secretary T. Ramaswami told the seminar that there was great potential for joint research and development in the area of renewable energy technologies.

Israel has now mandated that at least 10 percent of energy must come from renewable sources by 2020, said Raul Goldemann, director, Asia and Pacific international cooperation programme, MATIMOP.

Source: Indo-Asian News Service

Saturday, April 5, 2008

BrightSource Energy signs large solar deal with PG&E

BrightSource Energy announced this week that it has entered into a series of contracts with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) for renewable solar power. The first three contracts are for a total of 500 megawatts (MW) of power to be supplied from three solar thermal electric generating projects. PG&E also signed two contracts for options on an additional 400 MW of solar power, which would bring the total amount of power purchased under these five agreements to 900 MW.

This is one of the largest solar thermal power deals to date. Building the five plants will cost between $2 billion to $3 billion, and Morgan Stanley will reportedly lead the financing of the first plant.

According to Earth2Tech, the plants will use BrightSource’s power tower design, which includes an array of mirrors that reflect the sun’s light onto a central receiver full of water, creating steam and powering a turbine. The plants, the first of which could come online as early as 2011, are to be built in the Mojave Desert.

Luz II, Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of BrightSource Energy, provides product development and engineering, project engineering and management, and solar field manufacturing and supply services to BrightSource's plants. Luz II is headquartered in Jerusalem, Israel.

Brightsource COO and Luz II president Israel Kroizer, in an interview with "Globes", says that if PG&E exercises its options, BrightSource's solar power stations will provide 2.7% of the company's electricity supply.

Luz II is apparently due to launch a commercial pilot of its solar thermal power station at Rotem Industries Ltd. in Dimona in the Negev in a few weeks. The station will generate a few megawatts of solar thermal energy.

Privately held, BrightSource Energy is headquartered in Oakland, California. Its principle investors include: VantagePoint Venture Partners, Morgan Stanley, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, J.P. Morgan, and Chevron Technology Ventures.

Last July, PG&E also agreed to buy 553 megawatts of solar power from Solel's Mojave solar park, which is under construction and due to begin operating in 2011. Solel, based in Beit Shemesh, is another leading developer of solar thermal energy technology.

Ormat announces new geothermal contract in Nevada

Ormat Technologies Inc. and Nevada Geothermal Power Inc. (NGP) announced this week that NGP Blue Mountain I LLC has entered into an Engineering, Procurement and Construction Contract for a 49.5 MW power plant, consisting of three Ormat Energy Converters at Blue Mountain's geothermal project in Nevada.

The plant design incorporates Ormat's proprietary power generation technology with water-cooling for maximum efficiency. The total contract value is US$76 million.

If you are interested in learning more about Ormat and geothermal power, I suggest reading this interview with Paul Thomsen, Ormat's Public Policy Manager, which was published this week on Thomsen discusses Ormat's technology, its competitiveness vis a vis coal and natural gas power plants, the company's plans for R&D and expansion, the influence of government policy on the company's prospects, and the obstacles to geothermal's growth as a renewable energy source.

Ormat Technologies is the only vertically-integrated company primarily engaged in the geothermal and recovered energy power business. The company designs, develops, owns and operates geothermal and recovered energy-based power plants around the world.

Listed on the NYSE
, Ormat Technologies is a subsidiary of Yavne, Israel-based Ormat Industries. Founded in 1965 by Lucien and Yehudit Bronicki, a husband-and-wife team who now serve, respectively, as chairman and CEO, the company has developed over a gigawatt of geothermal generation around the world, and it owns and operates approximately 400 megawatts in the US. It has a market capitalization of $2 billion.

Much of Ormat's success owes to a breakthrough turbine design developed by the Bronickis that permits renewable energy sources such as geothermal or solar-heated steam to be converted into electricity more efficiently. After decades of selling turbines alone, Ormat in the mid 1990s started building geothermal plants of its own around the world that use its super-efficient turbine technology.

Geothermal's great advantage over intermittent renewables such as solar and wind power is that it is not dependent on the elements, and it produces continuous power 24 hours a day. The big drawback is that geothermal plants tend to be small. Depending on the strength of the natural source, they're usually no more than 100 megawatts in capacity.

Nevada Geothermal Power Inc. is a renewable energy company developing geothermal projects in the United States to provide electrical energy that is clean, renewable and sustainable. NGP currently owns a 100% leasehold interest in four properties: Blue Mountain that is expected to commence power generation late 2009, Pumpernickel, Black Warrior, all located in Nevada and Crump Geyser in Oregon.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

ZenithSolar featured in BusinessWeek

ZenithSolar, which is developing an innovative concentrator photovoltaic technology, was recently featured in BusinessWeek.

Concentrator photovoltaics (CPV) uses mirrors and/or lenses to focus and intensify the sun's light, thus producing more electricity at lower cost than traditional photovoltaic panels.

"Our goal is to utilize every suitable roof, backyard, and open space in Israel to turn households, hotels, and factories into net producers of electricity and thermal heat," says Roy Segev, the founder and chief executive of ZenithSolar. Founded in 2006, the company has raised $5 million from a handful of private investors in Israel and the U.S. Now, according to BusinessWeek, it is trying to raise an additional $10 million to $15 million to cover the cost of commercializing its technology.

Zenith, which is based in Nes Ziona, bought the rights to its solar technology from Ben Gurion University (BGU) and Germany's Fraunhofer Institute. A joint Israeli-German research team from the two institutions designed a working prototype, which consists of a 10-sq.-meter (107.6-sq.-ft.) dish lined with curved mirrors made from composite materials. The mirrors focus the sun's radiation onto a 100-sq.-centimeter (15.5-sq.-in.) "generator" that converts light to electricity. The generator also gives off intense heat, which is captured via a water-cooling system for residential or industrial hot-water uses.

The prototype has been tested over the last few years at Israel's National Solar Energy Center in Sde Boker in the Negev desert. Professor David Faiman, Director of the National Solar Energy Center, is Zenith's chief scientific officer.

After further refining the technology, Zenith plans in the coming months to take its first major steps toward commercialization. Two large-scale test installations are planned for this summer at a kibbutz and a factory. The company will put 86 of its 7-meter-high dishes on an acre of land at Kibbutz Yavne to provide the community of 250 families with more than a quarter of their energy needs. The second project will replace fuel oil used to produce heat at a large chemical plant in central Israel.

Once these projects are operational, Zenith plans to start commercial sales in Israel in 2009 and then to go abroad.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

U.S. Army venture fund looks to Israel for water technologies

Christopher Fountas, a General Partner at Arsenal Venture Partners, was recently in Israel to examine the potential for investment in early-stage water technology companies.

Arsenal Venture Partners is a leading venture capital firm focused on the intersection of the commercial and defense markets. AVP manages an early-stage venture capital fund (OnPoint Technologies), and a seed-stage venture fund (MILCOM Technologies). It already has an extensive cleantech portfolio and co-invests with many of the leading venture capital funds and corporate investors in the sector.

According to a report in "Globes", Fountas was invited to Israel by Dr. Orna Berry, a venture partner at Gemini Israel Funds, as well as Chairperson of the Israel Venture Association and former Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Industry and Trade; and Assaf Barnea, CEO of the Kinrot Water Technology Incubator.

Fountas said, "We manage investments in technologies for the US Army to meet needs that arise in wartime, such as during operations in Iraq, and for the government and industrial markets. We've come to Israel with the understanding that it’s a global leader in water technologies."

Joining Fountas on his trip to Israel was Melissa Meeker, a governing board member of the South Florida Water Management District (SFWFD). According to Meeker, Florida is reviewing the establishment of a state venture capital fund for cleantech.

During their visit, Fountas and Meeker met with Mekorot - the Israel National Water Company; executives at venture capital funds including Gemini, Evergreen Venture Partners, and Israel Cleantech Ventures; and Booky Oren, President of the Arison Water Initiative.

Summarizing his visit to Israel, Fountas said, "The water technologies that generally interest us are those that are synergetic to US Army and federal government needs.... All the water sectors relevant to us for investment are found here, from water security through water treatment and management, to desalination."