Monday, October 20, 2008

Roger Saillant, fuel cell industry veteran, joins CellEra board of directors

CellEra Inc., a developer of Platinum-Free membrane-based fuel cell technology (PFM-FC), announced today the appointment of Roger Saillant to its Board of Directors. The appointment is expected to bring Saillants extensive fuel cell management and company building experience to CellEra at a time when the start-up is preparing for its next phase of technology and market development with its disruptive PFM fuel cell technology.

Until recently, Dr. Saillant served as CEO & President of Latham, NY-based Plug Power (NASDAQ:PLUG), where he re-oriented the company towards production and commercialization, and led the industry in fuel cell system installs. Prior to PLUG, Saillant was Vice President and General Manager of Visteon Corporations (NYSE:VC) Energy Transformation Division, where he delivered $5.5 billion of automotive components globally to the Ford Motor Company and other automotive customers.

"CellEras disruptive technology holds true potential to alleviate major stack cost barriers and finally unlock fuel cells potential for massive market penetration. I believe CellEras management team has the proven track record and the capacity to execute," Saillant stated.

CellEra is a portfolio company of Israel Cleantech Ventures. CellEra's management team includes Dr. Shimshon Gottesfeld, CTO; Dr. Dario R. Dekel, VP R&D; and Ziv Gottesfeld, CEO.

Hat tip to Gene Dolgin, Analyst at Israel Cleantech Ventures, for sending me the announcement.

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Israel Cleantech Ventures invests in CellEra, fuel cell startup

Israeli cleantech venture funds profiled in International Herald Tribune

A recent International Herald Tribune article reports on Israel's cleantech industry, focusing on the role played by specialized cleantech venture capital funds

Jack Levy, general partner at Israel Cleantech Ventures, which raised $75 million last year for its first fund, cites Israel's pool of Russian immigrants -- including many mechanical, chemical and metals engineers -- as a unique advantage for Israel.

Astorre Modena, an Italian-born physicist and co-founder of Terra Venture Partners, says native Israelis contribute the entrepreneurial spirit that complements the Russian technological expertise. Modena reports that Terra raised $25 million last year in a first round of financing.

Also cited in the article are Precede Technologies, which is backed by Pitango Venture Capital and Evergreen Venture Partners; Gemini Israel Funds; and the Israel Opportunity Fund, a new fund managed by Dan Gillerman and Matthew Bronfman.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday Solar to power Israeli kibbutzim

Solar energy integrator Sunday Solar Energy of Israel announced it would invest NIS 500 million ($133 million USD) in photovoltaic solar arrays for kibbutzim, according to reports in the Jerusalem Post and

The Jerusalem Post reports that the company decided to invest following a recent National Infrastructures Ministry decision to allow medium-sized household solar-power stations from 50 kilowatts (kW) to 5 megawatts (MW) starting next year.

Sunday CEO Kobi Diner said the ministry's decision was a breakthrough that would eventually lead to meeting the ministry's goal of 20 percent of Israel's energy market from renewables by 2020.

In July, Israel's Public Utilities Authority agreed to feed-in tariff for small solar-power arrays -- up to 50 kW. Under the plan, the Authority will buy electricity at NIS 2.01 ($0.53 USD) per kilowatt hour from individuals and companies installing solar arrays on roofs—four times the going price of electricity for consumers.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

AquAgro invests $1.5 million in Transbiodiesel

Transbiodiesel, an Israeli biodiesel startup that is developing a novel technology to produce the fuel, has raised $1.5 million from the AquAgro Fund and signed a cooperation agreement with an unnamed American biodiesel company, according to a report in Globes.

The enzymatic process Transbiodiesel uses can apparently produce biodiesel in a more environmentally friendly manner. The overall process is also supposed to be cheaper than standard methods for making biodiesel.

Transbiodiesel CEO Sobhi Basheer founded the company at the L.N. Innovative Technologies Ltd. incubator's Agudat Hagalil Ltd. R&D center in the Israeli Arab city of Shfaram in the Galilee. Bashir helped established Agudat Hagalil in 1999.

Basheer and L.N. Innovative Technologies each own 35% of Transbiodiesel, AquaAgro owns 25%, and Altshuler Shaham Ltd. and Zeev Bronfman jointly own 5%.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

BrightSource Energy examines potential solar sites in New Mexico

BrightSource Energy, a solar power company based in Oakland, CA and Jerusalem, Israel, has identified almost 14,000 acres of New Mexico trust lands in Luna and Hidalgo counties as potential sites for utility-scale solar power plants.

State Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons recently signed a five-year option agreement with BrightSource Energy for $60,374. The option gives BrightSource two years to measure solar radiation, conduct environmental surveys, perform soil analyses, negotiate power purchase agreements and acquire transmission agreements.

According to a State Land Office press release, once a long term lease is executed, BrightSource intends to build a 600-megawatt facility on the Luna County site and sell power to the California market over the next 10 to 15 years. The intended facility will have the capacity to power 300,000 homes annually.

New Mexico's renewable portfolio standard requires that 15 percent of an electric utility's power supply must come from renewable sources by 2015. The requirement goes to 20 percent by 2020.

Separately, BrightSource Chairman Arnold Goldman was recently profiled in the New York Times and BrightSource CEO John Woolard was profiled in the San Francisco Business Times.

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GreenRoad awarded contract for the world's largest teen driver technology-based safety program

GreenRoad Technologies, a leader in driver safety technologies, announced last week that Or Yarok, Israel’s largest road safety organization, is making GreenRoad’s Safety Center available to 5000 families with teen drivers. This follows Or Yarok’s two-year study of 400 drivers’ use of Safety Center to determine its long-term impact on safety.

By analyzing each young driver’s performance and continuously providing them with real-time coaching, GreenRoad Safety Center improves driver safety and fuel efficiency.

GreenRoad is backed by Benchmark Capital, Virgin Green Fund, Amadeus Capital Partners and Balderton Capital. Headquartered in California, the company's R&D office is located in Beit Dagan, Israel.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Bronfman and Gillerman set up new cleantech fund

Former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman and Canadian-American businessman Matthew Bronfman have set up a new fund in Israel to invest in alternative energy, water and agriculture, according to reports in Reuters and Globes.

The private equity fund is named the "Israel Opportunity Fund" and will invest in Israel and other regions. Gillerman, who will serve as chairman, explained that the fund would consider investments in "firms that operate in markets where Israel has advantages, such as Eastern Europe."

Bronfman is already an active investor in Israel, with stakes in Israel Discount Bank Ltd., Shufersal Ltd. and IKEA Israel.

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