Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Better Place partners with 19 Israeli companies

Better Place announced that it has signed cooperation agreements with 19 Israeli companies to test the suitability of its electric vehicles for these companies fleets.

In this first stage of Better Place's plant to build a nationwide infrastructure for electric vehicles, Better Place will design charge spots for the companies' electric cars and install them at the companies' parking lots and employees' homes. It will also work with the companies' managers and employees in the design and deployment of the infrastructure in order to optimize and customize them to the needs of each company.

Moshe Kaplinsky, CEO of Better Place Israel, said, "Leading Israeli companies understand the strategic importance of meeting one of the greatest challenges now facing us: our dependence on oil and its effect on our economy, environment, and security. "

Better Place CEO Shai Agassi added, "We are today seeing the certification that there is real market demand for electric cars that will use Better Place's grid. We expect demand to grow as Israeli companies join in the vision, as well as in other countries, which together represent a potential global market of 50 million cars. We see today the tip of the iceberg of global demand."

The participating companies are from the hi-tech, pharmaceuticals, finance and manufacturing sectors. They include Israel Corp, which has invested over $100 million in Better Place, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Pelephone Communications Ltd., Partner Communications Ltd., Matrix IT Ltd., Direct Insurance - Financial Investments Ltd., Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., Netafim Ltd., Keter Plastics Ltd., Orbotech Ltd., juice maker Jafora Tabori Ltd., Manpower Israel Ltd., SQlink Ltd., Nike Israel Ltd., and Glasshouse Technologies Ltd.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Israel sets feed-in tariff for wind power

The Public Utilities Authority (Electricity) has announced the details of a feed-in tariff for small wind turbines, similar to the solar photovoltaic feed-in tariff established in 2008. Consumers will now be able to generate their own electricity using wind turbines and sell the surplus back to the national grid.

The maximum output of a domestic wind turbine will be set at 15 kilowatts, and the maximum output of a commercial and industrial user's wind turbines will be set at 50 kilowatts.

The Public Utilities Authority has established two rates for wind-generated electricity: NIS 1.60 per kilowatt/hour for small turbines up to 10 kilowatts of output, and NIS 1.25 per kilowatt/hour for small turbines of 10-50 kilowatts of output. These rates will be reduced by 2% a year.

The Public Utilities Authority set two rates for wind-generated electricity: NIS 1.60 (~$0.40) per kilowatt/hour for small turbines up to 10 kilowatts of output, and NIS 1.25 (~$0.30) per kilowatt/hour for small turbines of 10-50 kilowatts of output. These rates will be reduced by 2% a year. The total quota is 30 megawatts through 2016.

By comparison, the solar PV feed-in tariff is NIS 2.01 per kilowatt/hour with a quota of 50 megawatts through 2015.

This is good news for companies like SOVNA (formerly ALT E), which is currently setting up "urban wind farms" in Tel Aviv. It may also provide a domestic market for innovative small wind turbine companies such as Technospin, Coriolis Wind, Leviathan Energy, and Variable Wind Solutions.

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Visit to Technospin R&D facility

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Arison plans private solar thermal power plant in Negev

Arison Holdings Ltd. subsidiary Housing and Construction Holding Co. Ltd. (Shikun u'Binui) plans to build a large solar power plant in the Negev, costing $400-500 million, according to a report in "Globes".

The solar thermal power plant would reportedly generate at least 100 megawatts of electricity on a 3,500-dunam (875-acre) site. If constructed, it will be Israel's largest privately owned solar power station.

Shikun u'Binui is also participating in two government tenders for the construction of solar thermal and photovoltaic power plants at Ashalim in the Negev. Shikun u'Binui is partnering with Solel and Bateman Litwin NV in the tender for the solar thermal power plant, and partnering with Spain's Elecnor SA in the tender for the photovoltaic power plant.

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Ormat commissions first two facilities of OREG 2 project in North Dakota

Ormat Technologies, Inc., the NYSE-listed U.S. subsidiary of Yavne, Israel-based Ormat, announced that two of the four facilities in the OREG 2 Recovered Energy Generation (REG) project reached commercial operation in December 2008 and January 2009.

The OREG 2 project is Ormat‘s second REG project located along the Northern Border natural gas pipeline in North Dakota, United States. The project consists of four power plants that will have a net capacity of 5.5 MW each and will convert the recovered waste heat from the exhaust of existing gas turbines at compressor sites into electricity. The remaining two facilities are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2009.

"We are very happy to bring additional power through the use of recovered energy generation technology and contribute to the important goal of emission reduction” said Dita Bronicki, Chief Executive Officer of Ormat.

The output supplied from the two facilities will be sold to Basin Electric Power Cooperative (BEPC) of Bismarck, North Dakota and will bring the total owned generating capacity of Ormat's REG portfolio to 33 MW.

The ORMAT® REG facilities consist of ORMAT® ENERGY CONVERTERS (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 units are environmentally benign, according to Ormat, as they have no emissions of CO2 or NOX.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Daniel Jammer establishes €250m cleantech fund

Daniel Jammer, a German Jewish businessman and the owner of the Maccabi Netanya soccer club, has told "Globes" that he has set up a €250 million fund to invest in cleantech.

Jammer, who is attending the Eilat Energy Conference, says that the new fund will focus on three areas of activity: developing batteries for electric vehicles; producing jet fuel from biodiesel; and wind and solar energy.

Jammer said, "I have already held one meeting with Better Place and I recently met with Yom Tov Samia, the CEO of IC Green Energy, [Israel Corp's cleantech investment vehicle]. I hope that we will be able to cooperate in the future."

Jammer said that the new fund's investors include the German insurance, banking and asset management company Allianz and Migdal Insurance and Financial Holdings Ltd.

Jammer said that the €250 milion has already been raised and the fund is now examining its first investments. Discussing the solar energy sector, Jammer said, "There are two or three companies that are very interesting for us. We have not yet decided whether to join them as strategic partners or financial investors."

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IC Green Energy and Yom-Tov Samia

Thursday, February 12, 2009

BrightSource Energy and SCE sign 1.3 GW solar thermal deal

BrightSource Energy has signed a contract with Southern California Edison (SCE) to supply 1,300 megawatts of solar thermal power, enough to serve nearly 845,000 homes. This is the largest solar deal ever announced.

BrightSource will develop seven solar facilities for SCE under terms of the deal. The first 100-megawatt plant, to be built at BrightSource's Ivanpah complex in the Mojave Desert, is due to come online in early 2013.

In total, BrightSource now has 4.2 GW of solar sites under development.

BrightSource did not disclose the size of the new contract or the cost of building these solar thermal plants.

BrightSource CEO John Woolard revealed earlier this month at the World Economic Forum that the company's existing projects may be delayed because of difficulties in obtaining project financing.

Related Posts:

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Helioris Solar partners with Rotem Industries on solar thermal R&D

Helioris Solar Systems, a stealthy cleantech startup, is working with the Rotem Renewable Energy Center on an innovative patent-pending topology for solar thermal fields.

The proposed topology apparently combines the benefits of parabolic trough systems, employed by companies such as Solel, and tower systems used by companies such as BrightSource Energy. According to a report by Rotem Industries, the Helioris Solar approach allows the use of dual-axis tracking heliostats and small aperture thermal receivers, thereby increasing optical and thermal efficiency while maintaining a modular scheme of the solar field.

The founders of Helioris Solar are Yossi Yatir and Oded Mor. Yossi Yatir, according to his LinkedIn profile, is an Entrepreneur in Residence at cleantech incubator Precede Technologies, and Yatir and Mor worked together at Chromatis Networks in the late 1990s.

The report notes that Yatir and Mor have filed a provisional patent for their solar topology and an innovative solar thermal receiver, which will be designed by Rotem Industries.

Rotem revives development of high temperature solar receiver

In a possibly related development, Rotem Industries has also announced that it is reviving the development of a volumetric central air receiver for utilization of solar thermal power.

The technology was originally developed as part of a joint project between Rotem Industries, the Weizmann Institute of Science and Ormat in the early 1990s.

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Rotem assists with plans for 50 MW solar power station at Nevatim Airbase

The Rotem Renewable Energy Center is preparing a Request for Information ("RFI") for the construction of a solar power station at the Nevatim air force base in the Negev. It will be a 50 MW solar power station, the first of its kind on an Israeli military base, according to an announcement by Rotem.

The Ministry of Defence is building the solar power station to help ensure regular power supply to the base, even in case of severe failures of the state electric grid.

Dan Peer
, CEO Rotem Industries: "Rotem Industries will provide the Ministry of Defense with every assistance needed to establish the solar power station and this will be based on the vast knowledge that has been accumulated over many years in the solar field. This initiative is an addition to the establishment of the Renewable Energy Center that is unique and possesses huge technological and scientific abilities".

Rotem Industries, located near Dimona, is home to BrightSource Energy's Solar Energy Development Center, an important test site for solar thermal technology.

In December 2008, Rotem Industries and the Midwest Research Institute, which manages and operates the Colorad0-based National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), announced an agreement to collaborate to develop and commercialize new clean technologies.

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Rotem Industries and Midwest Research Institute to establish renewable energy technology center in Dimona

Helioris Solar partners with Rotem Industries on solar thermal R&D

IDF considers Better Place infrastructure and electric troop carriers

BrightSource / Luz II dedicate Negev Solar Energy Development Center

Saturday, February 7, 2009

IDF considers Better Place infrastructure and electric troop carriers

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is considering developing a quiet electric vehicle for carrying troops and cargo, according to a report in Globes. The vehicle will reportedly have a diesel or gasoline engine to extend its range when the batteries run out.

Elbit Systems Ltd., which has experience building electric motors for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), is apparently a leading contender to develop and supply the electric vehicle.

Globes also reports that the Ministry of Defence is considering installing Better Place's recharging infrastructure at IDF bases, which could be used for the fleet of electric military vehicles, as well as for civilian electric cars when they become available. In March 2008, Better Place named Major General Moshe Kaplinsky, former Deputy Chief of Staff of the IDF, as the CEO of Better Place Israel.

As reported on this blog last year, the IDF already plans to install thousands of Traffilog systems to improve fuel efficiency in its fleet of vehicles.

Last month, the U.S. Army announced plans to lease 4,000 non-tactical electric vehicles for use on Army bases for passenger transport, security patrol, and maintenance and delivery services. In 2007, the U.S. Army awarded a contract for development of a diesel hybrid electric vehicle called the Quantum Alternative Mobility Vehicle (AMV) Aggressor.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

AORA Solar raises $5m for solar thermal technology

AORA Solar, a Yavne, Israel-based developer of solar thermal technology, announced today it has closed a $5 million Series A funding round led by EZKlein Partners, EDIG Construction, and L&Q Solar, a group of international solar energy investors.

Aora, formerly known as EDIG Solar, will use the funds to commission a commercial hybrid solar thermal gas-turbine power station, expected to begin operations by the end of March in Kibbutz Samar in Israel's Arava region. Work has already started on the half-acre site, which is expected to have the capacity to produce 100 kilowatts of electricity and 170 kilowatts of heat, said Shimon Klein, managing partner of EZKlein, as reported by Cleantech Group.

Funds will also be used to develop manufacturing capabilities and market expansion and to further R&D efforts.

"We believe that Aora's technology will be a ‘game-changer' in the solar thermal energy sector as it will seize market share from the companies which propose to build giant, remotely located solar thermal power plants," said Shimon Klein.

COO Yuval Susskind told Cleantech Group that the company is targeting an untapped market that's less impacted by the current credit crunch than massive installations, such as those planned by BrightSource Energy.

"The solar industry is segmented into two themes: there's the photovoltaics that you put on homes, and on the other hand there are the huge solar companies out in the desert," Susskind said. "In the middle there's nobody working on providing 100 kilowatts to 5 megawatts of solar thermal and doing it close to people's homes."

AORA's system consists of a field of mirrors that track the sun, focusing sunlight onto a proprietary 30-meter high tower that contains a solar receiver that heats air to 1,000 degrees Celsius and water to 80 degrees Celsius. The heated air is used to run a standard 100-kW gas turbine engine. The electricity and heated water can then be sold to utilities or industrial clients.

The plants are expected to run 24 hours a day, using the hybrid gas turbines to generate power during the night or inclement weather. The turbines can operate on a variety of fossil fuels and biofuels, including diesel, gasoline, natural gas and biodiesel.

AORA plans to use part of the new capital to further R&D and start its manufacturing plant for the power conversion unit and turbine in Israel. Other components of the plant would be off-the-shelf products, Klein said. In six months or so, AORA plans to seek $10 million to $50 million in additional funding to scale the manufacturing and operations, Susskind said.

AORA plans to derive revenue from selling the proprietary components and partnering with local companies to get the solar projects built around the globe. The company has completed a pilot unit in Nanjing, China, as reported by Cleantech Investing in Israel in this post last year.

AORA recently changed its name from EDIG Solar. Founded last year, the company is based on technology developed by Prof. Jacob Karni, director of the Center for Energy Research at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel.

Susskind said he has ignored calls to move the business to Silicon Valley, at least while the business is at its early stage with just six employees.

"We're here because the climate is good for solar technology, and a lot of academic knowledge is being developed in solar," he said. "Being here right now is the best place to be for this stage of our company. All the brightest minds are here."

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Emefcy signs collaboration agreements, raising Series A funds

Emefcy, a microbial fuel cell startup based in Caesarea, Israel, recently signed collaboration agreements with several potential clients. The companies will participate in Emefcy's pilot program in 2009 and will potentially have Emefcy's system installed in their plants in 2010, according to reports by the company.

Emefcy, co-founded by serial entrepreneurs Eytan Levy and Ronen Shechter, is developing the MEGAWATTER™ technology. This technology produces low cost electricity (at $0.10/kWhr) and hydrogen in a bio-electro-chemical process from wastewater treatment by leveraging Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) technology. Emefcy's technological breakthrough is focused on the development of electrode materials and structure that feature durability, high power output and low cost.

Levy and Shechter, who previously founded wastewater treatment company AqWise, have already received venture funding from Israel Cleantech Ventures, and Greentech Media has detailed Levy's efforts to raise $3.5-5.0m in a Series A funding round. CEO Eytan Levy plans to be on the East Coast in February and March for meetings with potential investors. On February 26th, Levy will speak at a public event at MIT organized by the Boston Israel Cleantech Alliance.

Emefcy's Scientific Advisory Board includes Prof. Bruce Logan of Pennsylvania State University, Prof. Derek Lovely of the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) and Prof. Bruce Rittmann, Director of the Biodesign Institute at the University of Arizona.

More information about Emefcy's MEGAWATTER™ system and Emefcy's business plan is available in this online video, in this company presentation, and in past reports by the Jerusalem Post and Israel21c.

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Bronfman and Gillerman reexamine cleantech-focused Israel Opportunity Fund

The global financial crisis is affecting the Israel Opportunity Fund, the cleantech-focused VC fund founded last year by Canadian-American businessman Matthew Bronfman and former Israel Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman. The fund was established last fall to invest in Israel-related renewable energy and water technology companies.

The plan was to raise $100 million, with Bronfman Fisher Investment Ltd. committed to invest about 20% of the sum raised. However, today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Gillerman told Globes, "We are reexamining both the size of the investment and the size of the fund."

Gillerman added. "The timing of our fund was undoubtedly unique. We founded it when it was already clear that the economic world was not what it was. What wasn't clear was the scale of its severity. The first round of fund raising from investors we carried out in London during one of the stormiest weeks of the global economy the week that Lehman Bros. collapsed."

Globes: Matthew Bronfman himself is not in the best of financial situations today?

Gillerman: "I rely on the power, stability, and strength of him and his family.

The money designated for the fund is from him or his family?

"Even I don't know."

How much money do you already have at your disposal to invest?

"I don't want to go into details."

You recently said that there has been a delay but will you complete fund raising by the end of 2009?

"As I have already said, we are reexamining the size of the investment and the size of the fund."

Have you implemented any investments yet?

"No. We have very many proposals both from large bodies and banks who have suggested companies that we should buy, sometimes as part of their activities as creditors."

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

BrightSource looks to Obama stimulus for relief, may have to delay construction of California solar plants

BrightSource Energy's Ivanpah Solar Power Complex planned for California could be delayed if the U.S. government's economic stimulus package does not provide incentives to unlock financing for renewable energy projects.

BrightSource Energy Inc, which last year signed contracts with California utility PG&E Corp to provide up to 900 megawatts of solar thermal power, still needs to secure financing for the project, which BrightSource is scheduled to begin constructing in late 2009.

"We should be able to turn dirt over and start construction in the fourth quarter of this year, but big financings don't come in months," BrightSource CEO John Woolard said in an interview with Reuters at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "Depending on what happens out of the stimulus bill, it could get pushed back."

U.S. President Barack Obama's proposed $825 billion economic stimulus plan, which offers incentives for renewable projects, will be critical to jump-starting investment again, Woolard said.

"If you were to wait for private markets to come back completely, you'd be waiting a long time. But if you look at what you can do with the right amount of government support, you could see things happen this year," he said, calling the stimulus package "one of the most important pieces of legislation in renewables, period."

Despite the apparent recent difficulty in obtaining project financing for the Ivanpah Complex, BrightSource has achieved several major milestones in the past year:

  • In March, BrightSource entered into a series of power purchase agreements with PG&E for up to 900MW of electricity. Ivanpah would be California’s first large-scale commercial solar thermal power plant in nearly three decades.
  • In May, BrightSource announced that it had secured $115 million in additional corporate funding from its Series C round of financing, bringing the total the company has raised to date to over $160 million. VantagePoint Venture Partners, the company’s initial investor, led the syndicate, which included Google.org, BP Alternative Energy, StatoilHydro Venture and Black River, Morgan Stanley, DBL Investors (formerly a subsidiary of JP Morgan), Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Chevron Technology Ventures.
  • In June, BrightSource dedicated its Solar Energy Development Center (SEDC), an operational solar field that will provide the company with the ability to test equipment, materials and procedures as well as construction and operating methods. The SEDC is located at the Rotem Industrial Park in Dimona, Israel, and is managed by BrightSource Industries Israel (formerly Luz II), the company's wholly-owned Jerusalem-based subsidiary.
  • In December, BrightSource signed an agreement with Siemens for the largest ever fully solar-powered steam turbine generator for its Ivanpah Complex.
  • Last week, BrightSource announced that Andrew Siegelstein has been named General Manager for the company’s subsidiary BrightSource Construction Management Company. Under Siegelstein's leadership, BrightSource Construction Management Company will oversee and manage the construction of BrightSource Energy’s solar energy projects, including the Ivanpah Complex.
BrightSource also seems to be doing better than its competitors, OptiSolar and Ausra. According to reports in Earth2Tech and GreentechMedia, both OptiSolar and Ausra are laying off employees. Ausra, which is backed by high-profile cleantech VCs Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins, is reportedly changing its business plan because of the difficult financing environment and will focus on supplying equipment and building small power plants.

Related Posts:

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