Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Solel awarded $2.6 million grant from Spanish Government for solar thermal manufacturing facility

Solel Solar Systems, Ltd. recently announced it has received a $2.6 million grant from the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Enterprise of the Andalusian Region of Spain to be used for the construction and development of a facility to build solar thermal fields components. The facility, in La Carolina, Spain, will be Solel's first manufacturing plant in Spain, and will include lines for the production of parabolic reflectors, metal supports for solar collectors, and other essential components used for conversion of sunlight to electricity.

The construction of the plant in La Carolina is expected to be completed in 2012, with some manufacturing lines becoming operational later this year. Total investment by Solel in manufacturing plants in Spain is expected to reach $140 million, and it will employ 300 workers in La Carolina by 2012.

Solel commenced operations in Spain in 2006 and supplies technology to 15 solar thermal power plants, with a combined capacity of 750 MW. In addition to being a technology provider, Solel has joined with Sacyr Vallehermoso, a leading Spanish construction company, in a joint venture to build three power plants with a total capacity of 150 MW. The first of these plants, the 50 MW Lebrija 1 facility, will begin operations in 2010.

"We are grateful to the governments of Andalusia and of Spain for the confidence they have shown us and their commitment to both technological advancement and renewable energy," said Avi Brenmiller, President and CEO of Solel. "Through their policies, Spanish governments are encouraging the development of new sources of energy, and contribute to the creation of new workplaces in Spain. Our new facility will deliver Solel's state-of-the-art equipment and technology that reduce the cost of producing solar energy".

Solel is currently building three solar power plants in Andalusia, Spain, and its American subsidiary, Solel, Inc., is developing the 553 MW Mojave Solar Park in California. Nine power plants in California using Solel's technology have been operating successfully for over twenty years, producing 350 MW of electricity and eliminating the need for two million barrels of oil annually.

Solel employs about 500 workers, with its headquarters, manufacturing plant and R&D center in Beit Shemesh, Israel.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

BioPetroClean partners with Dow to market wastewater treatement technology

BioPetroClean, a Petah Tikva, Israel-based cleantech start-up specializing in biological wastewater treatment, recently announced the signing of an agreement with The Dow Chemical Company. Under a global commercial agreement, Dow will market the Dow BPC Water Treatment system to refinery and produced-water markets with exclusivity in various regions.

BioPetroClean’s Automated Chemostat Treatment (BPC-ACT) is an innovative approach to wastewater treatment, consisting of three elements: a bacteria cocktail customized for specific water types, a control unit, and a basin or tank that serves as the reactor. According to the Company, BioPetroClean's bioremediation solutions allow a wastewater treatment plant to increase its reliability and capacity while reducing cost of operations.

“The selection of the BPC solution by a worldwide leader such as Dow is a great endorsement from a company that can help us take advantage of the worldwide opportunity and enable massive deployment of our new and exciting technology,” said David Amir, CEO of BioPetroClean.

“Dow BPC Water Treatment technology has immense potential — for communities, the oil and gas industry, the environment and our business,” said Janet Giesselman, President and General Manager of Dow Oil & Gas. “We are committed to creating clean, sustainable water supplies. This is one more step toward solving this global challenge.”

Dow and BPC are working on a first field application of the Dow-BPC Water Treatment system.

BioPetroClean's investors include 21Ventures, a New York-based venture capital fund. BioPetroClean reportedly raised between $5 million and $8.5 million from 21Ventures and Quercus Trust in 2008.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

BPT Closes $12 Million in Series B Financing Led by Pitango Venture Capital and U.S. Venture Partners

Bio Pure Technology Ltd. ("BPT"), a Rehovot, Israel-based company developing chemically-stable membrane-based separation solutions for critical industrial processes, recently announced that it has completed its Series B financing, raising $12 million.

U.S. Venture Partners (USVP) and Pitango Venture Capital led the round with participation from existing investors Aurum Ventures and Elron Electronic Industries. Funds will be used for expanding manufacturing facilities, for continuing R&D and to further develop sales and marketing infrastructure to meet increased worldwide demand.

In conjunction with this round Christopher J. Rust, a partner at USVP, Jacques Benkoski, a venture partner at USVP, and Ittai Harel, a Partner at Pitango, will join the BPT board of directors.

BPT is focused on developing and commercializing advanced membranes-based separation solutions to address the needs of the water and wastewater treatment industries. BPT’s unique chemically-stable membrane technology and associated systems enable customers in the landfill, mining, chemical, biopharma and food industries to filter their aggressive waste water to be economically viable, re-use water and comply with environmental regulations. According to BPT, the Company provides solutions where other membrane-based technologies cannot withstand the aggressive waste characteristics and alternative technologies such as evaporators and incinerators are often not economically viable.

“USVP and Pitango have deep experience in building great companies; we are proud to have them as lead investors, and to have their partners join our board,” said BPT’s CEO, Nir Kinory. “Together with our existing great investors, Aurum and Elron and our dedicated team, we are on a fast track to capture the market of next generation industrial waste water streams treatment brought about by water scarcity and increased environmental pressures.”

Ittai Harel, partner at Pitango Venture Capital, added: “Cleantech is an area of growing concern to the world market. BPT’s technology and tremendously experienced R&D group are well positioned to play a significant role in the application of nanotechnology to water technology.”

“USVP has been investing in cleantech for over six years and this is our first cleantech investment in Israel. Water treatment and recycling are critical elements of adapting to climate change,” said Jacques Benkoski, Venture Partner, who led USVP’s efforts in the BPT investment, “BPT clearly stood out as a unique player with differentiated and leading technology to solve critical waste water recycling issues for key industrial processes."

BPT was founded in 2000 and is located at the Weizmann Science Park in Rehovot, Israel. BPT previously raised $2.5 million from Aurum Ventures and Elron in 2007.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

BrightSource Energy expands Nevada solar thermal project to 960 MW

BrightSource Energy, Inc., a leading developer of large-scale solar thermal power plants, announced today that it is expanding a land deal in Nevada that could enlarge the the project's potential to 960 megawatts, enough to power almost 500,000 homes.

BrightSource has reached a preliminary agreement with Nevada’s Coyote Springs Land Company™ to expand upon a previously-announced private land agreement in March 2009 to provide sites for up to 600 megawatts of solar thermal power.

The Coyote Springs project is part of BrightSource Energy’s strategy to develop 4 gigawatts of solar thermal power in California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico, including its first project located in Ivanpah, California. The Ivanpah project is in the final permitting stages with the California Energy Commission and the Bureau of Land Management, and is expected to begin construction in early 2010.

The size of the site has now expanded to include a twelve-square-mile area within the larger Coyote Springs development in Lincoln County. The site is located on private property near transmission lines and, as part of the broader development site, has already received environmental permits from the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and various other federal, state and county agencies. The power generated from the Coyote Springs site could meet demand generated in the Coyote Springs development, southern Nevada, as well as deliver power to California.

BrightSource Energy is the parent of Jerusalem, Israel-based BrightSource Industries Israel (BSII), formerly called Luz II. BSII performs R&D, production and project engineering for its California-based parent company.

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Ormat doubles production capacity at Israeli factory

Ormat Technologies, Inc. today inaugurated a new wing at its manufacturing plant in Yavne, Israel.

Ormat invested $10 million in the new area, which covers 7,200 square meters and will enable the company to double its production capacity, according to a report in Globes. Ormat has hired 140 new employees for the expanded factory, increasing its workforce by 30%.

Guests at the inauguration ceremony included Minister of National Infrastructures Uzi Landau, high-tech entrepreneur Yossi Vardi, who is a close friend of Ormat Group controlling shareholders Yehudit and Yehuda Bronicki, and Dov Lautmann, former Chairman of Delta Galil Industries.

Ormat, a global leader in the geothermal power industry, develops, builds, owns and operates geothermal recovered energy-based power plants, usually using equipment that it designs and manufactures in Israel.

Ormat's shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: ORA), where the company is valued at approximately $1.8 billion.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

IQwind and Guascor announce partnership agreement to commercialize innovative wind turbine technology

IQwind, an Israel-based start-up backed by Terra Venture Partners, and Guascor, a Spanish industrial company, announced today that they will partner to commercialize and bring to market the IQGear, a variable gearbox for the wind industry. The partnership brings together IQwind`s innovative wind turbine technology and the operational and market expertise of Guascor, an international leader in the production and distribution of renewable energy power systems.

Increasing the overall potential and cost-effectiveness of wind as an alternative renewable energy source, IQwind claims that its variable gear can be both retrofitted into existing turbines and utilized as a standard component in newly-manufactured turbines. The high efficiency IQwind technology can reduce the cost of energy (COE) by up to 20% compared to the best existing wind turbines, according to the company.

Guascor will manufacture the IQGear according to design and specifications provided by IQwind. To support the IQGear production, a new manufacturing line will be established in the Guascor Power facility in the Basque Country (Spain).

According to the agreement between the companies, the initial ten gearboxes manufactured by Guascor will be used for testing, certification, and initial commercial installations retrofitting currently-operational turbines during 2010. The companies will scale up to bring additional retrofitted and new turbines to the European market in 2011 and beyond. According to the agreement, IQwind will lead the sales, marketing and design activities and shall continue to own any resulting Intellectual Property (IP).

"The partnership with IQwind reinforces Guascor´s vision and its commitment to renewable energy," said Mr. Cesar Fernandez de Velasco, CEO of Guascor. "The IQwind variable gear is an important development in wind-powered energy generation. It addresses the long standing challenge of efficiently turning a variable wind source into stable electrical current, and can make an immediate impact on the economics of wind projects. Guascor is delighted to lend its
manufacturing muscle and the operational experience of its executives to advance the establishment of IQGear as the leading gear design in the wind energy market. We look forward to rolling this exciting technology out to the market as early as 2010."

"Guascor brings manufacturing and wind expertise, more than 50 years of leadership in the power system industry, and a unique renewable energy strategy. These attributes make the company an ideal partner for IQwind in bringing this unique technology for improving power generation efficiency to the wind energy market," said IQwind founder and CEO Gideon Ziegelman.

"Partnering with a prominent player such as Guascor is a resounding validation of the value our variable gear technology brings to the wind energy market," added Ziegelman. "The cooperation with Guascor and the significant investment they have committed to in this agreement will greatly accelerate the introduction of IQGear into the wind energy market. This collaboration is a major step towards the transformation of this new technology into a revenue
generating product."

Guascor is currently planning to build a large wind farm in Argentina. The $2.4 billion, 600-900MW project will be located in Pico Truncado and is expected to take three years to complete.

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BrightSource Energy and Bechtel to partner on solar thermal power plants

BrightSource Energy announced today that it has selected Bechtel, a leading engineering, construction and project management firm, as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the Ivanpah Solar Electricity Generating System.

The two companies also announced that Bechtel Enterprises, the project development and financing arm of the Bechtel organization, will become an equity investor in all of the Ivanpah solar power plants.

Under the terms of a series of EPC agreements, Bechtel will provide engineering, procurement, and construction services for the Ivanpah System – a 440 megawatt solar power facility consisting of three separate solar thermal power plants in southeastern California. The power generated from these solar plants will be sold under separate contracts established by BrightSource Energy with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE). BrightSource’s contracts with PG&E and SCE total 2.6 gigawatts.

“Combining Bechtel’s world-class EPC capabilities with BrightSource’s leading solar thermal energy team is a natural fit,” said John Woolard, BrightSource’s President and CEO. “We share a common vision of setting the standard in building environmentally-friendly solar power plants while creating jobs for local communities. We very much look forward to partnering with Bechtel on constructing the Ivanpah facility.”

BrightSource estimates that the Ivanpah facility will result in approximately 1,000 jobs at the peak of construction, 86 permanent jobs*, and total economic benefits of $3 billion. The plants will also displace more than 450,000 tons (408,000 metric tonnes) of CO2 annually, which is the equivalent of taking more than 75,000 cars off the road.

The Ivanpah facility is scheduled to begin construction in early 2010 following final permitting by the California Energy Commission and the Bureau of Land Management. In December 2008, BrightSource signed an agreement with Siemens to purchase the largest ever solar-powered steam turbine generator for the first of the three Ivanpah plants.

The Ivanpah facility will utilize BrightSource Energy’s proven Luz Power Tower 550 technology (LPT 550). The LPT 550 solar system produces electricity the same way as traditional power plants – by creating high temperature steam to turn a turbine. However, instead of using fossil fuels or nuclear power to create the steam, BrightSource uses thousands of mirrors called heliostats to re­flect sunlight onto a boiler filled with water that sits atop a tower. When the sunlight hits the boiler, the water inside is heated and creates high temperature steam. The steam is then piped to a conventional tur­bine which generates electricity. This fully integrated approach takes advantage of high operating efficiencies and low capital costs to provide reliable and low-cost carbon-free energy.

The LPT 550 solar system is also designed to minimize the solar plant’s environmental impact, reducing the need for extensive land grading and concrete pads. In order to conserve precious desert water, LPT 550 uses air-cooling to convert the steam back into water, resulting in a 90 percent reduction in water usage compared to conventional wet-cooling. The water is then returned to the boiler in an environmentally-friendly closed process.

Today, LPT 550 is employed at the company’s Solar Energy Development Center (SEDC) in Israel’s Negev Desert. Operating over the past year, the SEDC is producing the world’s highest temperature turbine quality steam from solar energy.

BrightSource is the parent of Jerusalem, Israel-based BrightSource Industries Israel (BSII), formerly called Luz II. BSII performs R&D, production and project engineering for its California-based parent company.

BrightSource Seeking Partners in China and India

BrightSource is actively seeking partners in India and China as it looks to expand its reach outside the United States, Chief Executive John Woolard said yesterday, according to a report from Reuters.

Moving "slowly and deliberately," BrightSource could announce partners in those two nations a year from now, Woolard told the Reuters Global Climate and Alternative Energy Summit in San Francisco.

"We are talking to various large companies over there," Woolard said. "Generally partners that are large, have engineering capabilities and can really deliver on plant construction and get things done."

Woolard's comments came on the same day that First Solar Inc, made the first major foray by a U.S. company into the fast growing Chinese alternative energy sector with plans to build the world's largest solar plant there.

"It shows a few things," Woolard said of the First Solar announcement. "One is that the Chinese are willing to think at a size and scale that is meaningful... and it also shows that the Chinese are ready and willing to look at real projects and real money."

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Friday, September 4, 2009

Siemens, Areva, Alstom bidding for Israeli solar firm Solel

Siemens AG, Areva SA and Alstom SA, three of Europe’s largest engineering companies, are competing for control of Solel Solar Systems Ltd., as demand for renewable energy rises, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Solel, based in Beit Shemesh, Israel, is a leading developer of utility-scale solar thermal power plants. The bids from Siemens, Areva and Alstom may value Solel at $300 million to $400 million, said Bloomberg's sources, who declined to be identified because talks are private. Shikun & Binui Ltd., an Israeli real-estate company controlled by the Arison Group, is also weighing a bid, according to a source. The winner may be picked as early as this month if they can agree on price, two sources told Bloomberg.

“Engineering companies such as Siemens, ABB, GE or Alstom will in the long term need to compensate for declining orders in their conventional power generation businesses, making renewable energy strategically very interesting for them,” said Stephan Wulf, who analyzes renewable energy companies at Sal. Oppenheim Jr. & Cie. in Frankfurt.

Solel develops and builds solar thermal power plants and makes solar receivers, a main component for the facilities that collect sunlight with mirrors to generate steam that powers turbines. Solel, which employs about 400 people, has solar fields in California and is supplying new plants in Spain.

Following a $150mm investment in 2008, Ecofin Ltd., a London-based investment company specialized in utilities and infrastructure, owns 63 percent of Solel’s issued share capital.

Solel reported sales of $37.7 million in 2008, on a net loss of $16.9 million, according to the Ecofin filing.

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