Monday, October 19, 2009

Ormat teams with Sunday Energy on $195M joint venture for 36 MW of solar

Ormat Technologies, Inc., announced today that its Israeli subsidiary, Ormat Systems Ltd., has signed a Joint Venture Agreement (“JVA”) with Sunday Energy Ltd. (“Sunday”), an Israeli solar integration company, to construct and operate solar-photovoltaic (“PV”) energy systems in Israel with a total capacity of 36 megawatts (MW).

Under the JVA, Sunday will contribute the rights to all of its property and roofs required to develop solar energy systems above 1 MW to special purpose entities (“SPEs”). Ormat will own 70% of each SPE and will also have control of it. Under the terms of the agreement, Ormat and Sunday will act, jointly, as the engineering, procurement and construction ("EPC") contractor and the operator of each project in accordance with each company share in the SPEs .

Ormat estimates that the capital expenditure for 36 MW of solar power systems will be approximately $195 million. The electricity generated from the projects will be sold to Israel Electric Corporation Ltd. under long-term power purchase agreements (20 years) and will generate approximately $30 million in annual revenues. The SPEs expect to finance their capital expenditure with 80% Non-Recourse project finance debt.

Ormat has more than four decades of experience in the development, construction, financing and operation of hundreds of megawatts of renewable energy projects world-wide, while Sunday is one of the leading developers in the Israeli solar PV market and has experience in the design of solar systems using photovoltaic modules from various suppliers and the capabilities to obtain the necessary regulatory permits for construction and interconnection to the local grid.

Prior to entering into this JVA, Ormat has entered into an agreement with Sunday for the construction of a solar system for up to 1 MW on the roofs of its manufacturing facilities located in Yavne, Israel. The first system with a capacity of 50 kW has been installed and connected to the grid since August 2009.

The joint venture represents Ormat's commercial entry into the solar energy market and its first major development in the solar photovoltaic market in Israel.

Lucien Y. Bronicki, Chairman of the Board and Chief Technology Officer of Ormat Technologies, said, “Ormat's commercial activity in the solar energy market is part of a strategic plan to be a leading player in renewable energy. We have a long, rich history in renewable energy that includes activity in solar energy that we believe we can leverage to bring unique benefits to this project. Our connection to solar energy goes back over 30 years to the solar pond project that we developed between 1977 and 1984. Our work on the solar pond created the technological foundation for our geothermal technology, which today positions Ormat as the industry leader. We are pleased to finally add an Israeli solar installation, to the current 1,200 MW of Geothermal and Recovered Energy power plants that Ormat has installed throughout the years. We are looking at this joint venture as an attractive business opportunity derived by the reduction in solar PV modules prices and the increase in their supply on one hand and the expected Israeli feed-in tariff for large solar PV systems on the other hand.”

Related Posts:

Ormat installing solar panels at factory in Israel

Sunday Solar to power Israeli kibbutzim

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Siemens to buy Solel Solar for $418 million

German industrial conglomerate Siemens AG has announced that it will buy solar thermal power company Solel Solar Systems Ltd. for $418 million.

Siemens will buy the Beit Shemesh, Israel-based company from Ecofin Ltd., a London-based investment company which had purchased a stake in Solel in January 2008 at a company value of $150 million.

Solel has a workforce of over 500 and is one of the world´s two leading suppliers of solar receivers, which are key components in parabolic trough solar power plants. Solel posted revenue totaling almost $90 million in the first six months of this year, and Solel is also a leader in the planning and construction of solar fields.

“Siemens and Solel are a perfect match,” said RenĂ© Umlauft, CEO of Siemens’ Renewable Energy Division. “We are the market leader in steam turbines for solar thermal power plants and, with the power block, we can offer a key part for solar power plants – the part that is responsible for power generation. Solel boasts high-efficiency receiver technology and comprehensive expertise in the engineering and construction of solar fields. In the future, we’ll be able to offer the key components for the construction of parabolic trough power plants from a single source and to further enhance the efficiency of these plants.”

Siemens is part of the Desertec Industrial Initiative, an ambitious solar project that could theoretically supply up to 15 percent of Europe's energy needs by 2050 by building plants in the Sahara desert region.

“Together, we will utilize our know-how in these core competencies to further optimize the water/steam cycle and to further boost the efficiency of solar thermal power plants. Thus we can accelerate the use of this clean technology,” said Avi Brenmiller, CEO of Solel Solar Systems. “Combined with Siemens’ financial strength and its global sales and marketing activities, this will open up promising prospects for our business and hence also for all of Solel’s employees.”

A Solel spokeswoman said the base of the company's operations will remain in Israel.

In August, Siemens announced that it invested $15 million for a stake in Israeli solar company Arava Power Co., which is based at Kibbutz Ketura north of Eilat.

Related Posts:

Siemens, Areva, Alstom bidding for Israeli solar firm Solel

Siemens invests $15mm in Israeli solar company Arava Power

Solel to supply Ibereolica with solar receivers

Solel lands record deal for solar receivers

U.K.'s Ecofin buys 40% of Solel Solar Systems

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

GE invests in SolarEdge, joining $23m Series B funding round

SolarEdge, a Herzliya, Israel-based start-up developing technology that increases solar power systems’ output by up to 25 percent, announced today that GE unit GE Energy Financial Services has joined a $23 million funding round to support growth in residential and large-scale photovoltaic sites.

SolarEdge’s other investors are US venture capital funds Opus Capital and Walden International, Israeli venture capital funds Genesis Partners and Vertex Venture Capital, and the Singaporean fund JP Capital Asia. Details of each investor’s contribution to the equity financing were not disclosed.

GE Energy Financial Services’ venture capital team has invested in 20 early- and growth-stage energy- and water-related technology companies since January 2006, but this was their first cleantech-related investment in Israel.

“We will use this financing to further promote our solar power harvesting system, which can be embedded in practically all types of solar photovoltaic panels to maximize power generation while dramatically reducing costs,” said Guy Sella, Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder of SolarEdge. “By partnering with GE, we benefit from the company’s proven R&D capabilities, energy technology expertise and deep commercial market reach.”

SolarEdge provides holistic photovoltaic power harvesting and monitoring technology to maximize the energy output and cost efficiency of solar PV units. The company is partnering with industry leaders such as BP Solar and Schott Solar, Isofoton, HaWi Energitechnik, Gehrlicher solar and many others to embed its technology into photovoltaic panels to increase their power output by up to 25 percent and provide monitoring and control services.

“Our investment in SolarEdge reflects our confidence in the company’s ability to thrive in the growing global solar industry,” Alex Urquhart, President and CEO of GE Energy Financial Services, said at the GE venture capital media forum. “SolarEdge is a smart company, with smart technology that fits well with GE’ ecomagination program to help customers meet their environmental challenges. We view this investment as the beginning of a broader collaboration between GE and SolarEdge that could include joint product development and distribution.”

SolarEdge CEO Guy Sella and VP product development Lior Handlesman founded the company in 2006, together with Amir Fishelov, Meir Adest, and Yoav Galin.

The company's roots can be traced to the founding team members' service together in the Israel Defense Forces. Sella commanded the Technology Unit of the IDF's Department of Military Intelligence in 2001-2002 and Fishelov and Handlesman served in management roles in the IDF for close to a decade prior to joining SolarEdge. Meir Adest is a graduate of the prestigious Talpiot program and recipient of the Israel Defense Award (2004) and the Director of Intelligence Innovation Award (2001).

SolarEdge has raised $35 million to date.

Gunther Portfolio recently published a detailed look at SolarEdge and an interiew with CEO Guy Sella.

Related Posts:

Solaredge partners with BP Solar to test solar efficiency products

SolarEdge raises $23m in venture capital

SolarEdge exits stealth mode and plans Series B financing

SolarEdge raises $11.8 million

BrightView achieves milestones at Signet Solar thin film photovoltaic plant

BrightView Systems, a Petah Tikva, Israel-based cleantech start-up, announced today the successful integration and validation of its WAM (Wide Area Metrology) process metrology and mapping solution for thin-film PV manufacturers at Signet Solar's production line in Mochau, Germany.

The WAM tool, developed by BrightView in Israel, has, according to the company, "successfully demonstrated its contribution to both panel efficiency and line productivity via its in-line, true-cell-metrology and measurement capabilities and associated suite of control applications for excursion detection, chamber matching and process window optimization."

Signet Solar has now embedded BrightView's system into their production flow is now implementing fully automated continuous full-panel process monitoring and feedback on 100% of production panels. The system, according to BrightView, greatly reduces reliance on off-line measurements and special test panel cycles.

"The BrightView solution fills a major gap in the industry's transition from pilot to mass production, providing true 24/7 in-line process monitoring while saving long and tedious off-line cycles and test panels," said Gunter Ziegenbalg, Managing Director of Signet Solar GmbH. "The system has been embraced by our R&D engineers, who are finally generating the data they need for concrete process improvements and optimization, and by our production engineers, who are relying on the continuous automatic alerting of process issues, as well as much quicker turn-around following process tool maintenance."

Benny Shoham, CEO of BrightView added, "Signet Solar has put our system through rigorous testing, allowing us to validate our vision in a high volume production line using actual panel performance data. Their talented team, working with the BrightView state-of-the-art WAM solution, was able to deliver major improvements to line productivity in a very short time. We are excited by the excellent results they achieved, and look forward to continue working with Signet Solar on their next production milestone and process improvement roadmap, as well as accelerate efficiency and productivity gains for the thin film PV industry."

In 2008, BrightView Systems raised a $6 million Series A round of financing from Israel Cleantech Ventures and Hasso Plattner Ventures.

Related Posts:

BrightView Systems and EPFL announce thin-film solar collaboration

BrightView raises $6 million from Israel Cleantech Ventures and Hasso Plattner Ventures

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Conference to highlight Jewish community's response to energy challenges

Young professionals will gather in San Francisco next month for a conference featuring cleantech entrepreneurs, investors and policymakers.

The goal of the Jewish Response to the Energy Challenge conference, scheduled for November 8th, is to "share ideas and experiences that will advance a generational movement for clean and secure energy."

The conference agenda features keynote speakers and breakout sessions on U.S.-Israel energy cooperation, transportation, clean economy, policy reform, and sustainability.

Confirmed speakers include:

Alan Salzman, CEO VantagePoint Venture Partners
Adam Werbach, CEO Saatchi and Saatchi
Jason Wolf, Head of Better Place California
Yosef Abramowitz, Co-Founder Arava Power Company
David Arfin, VP Strategy Solar City
JB Straubel, CTO Tesla Motors
Joel Makower, Executive Director,
Sanjay Wagle, Special Advisor, DOE Recovery Team
Anne Korin, Chair, Set America Free Coalition

I am pleased to be moderating the panel on U.S.-Israel energy cooperation, which will feature the following panelists:

Arthur Haubenstock, General Counsel, BrightSource Energy
Eitan Yudelevich, Executive Director, BIRD Foundation
Matan Friedman, Senior Associate, Bessemer Venture Partners
Sagi Rubin, Associate, Virgin Green Fund
Martin Kace, Founder and President, Empax

Registration for the conference is required.

I hope to see you next month in San Francisco!

Monday, October 12, 2009

BGU partners with U. of Johannesburg and UCLA on water research

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has partnered with the University of Johannesburg and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to conduct scientific research into the fields of water purification and microalgal biotechnology, according to a press release last month.

"This is an international partnership that will benefit the peoples of South Africa, Israel and other countries around the world,” said BGU’s Vice President for External Affairs Prof. Amos Drory on occasion of the signing. Drory and Prof. Derek van der Merwe, Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Johannesburg, signed the research collaboration agreement in South Africa.

"The two universities will become involved in extremely important, evolutionary research that will mainly benefit third world countries throughout the world,” said Dr. Bertram Lubner, Vice-Chairman of BGU’s Board of Governors and president of the SA Associates of Ben-Gurion University (SAABGU).

Prof. Sammy Boussiba and Prof. Yoram Oren from Ben Gurion University’s Blaustein Institute for Desert Research will head up the projects in Israel working together with Prof. Bhekie Mamba, leading the South African research teams. They will be assisted by Prof. Eric Hoek, an expert in the fields of water purification and microalgal biotechnology at UCLA.

According to Prof. Mamba, the two universities will brainstorm on how they can contribute to ongoing South African research into water purification in rural areas and around the Hartbeespoort Dam near Pretoria. In addition, they will research the feasibility of harvesting algae from the Dam and converting it to energy. The Hartbeespoort Dam remediation programme is being implemented by the South African Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) to address the imbalances and unhealthy biological conditions in the dam.

"We will investigate how we can contribute and add value to this ongoing project,” said Prof. Mamba. Ongoing research into the use of membranes to purify water in rural areas will also benefit from the UJ, BGU and UCLA collaboration.

"We will look at the effective treatment of dam and river water used for drinking in rural areas,” he continued. "Here, the pollution is not industrial, but microbial. We need to address the issue of bacteria and viruses into the water, and we will be looking at what role UJ and BGU can play. "We hope to come up with a low-cost, low-maintenance solution geared for rural areas,” Prof. Mamba said.

Kaiima raises $8mm in Series A financing from DFJ Tamir Fishman and Draper Fisher Jurvetson

Kaiima, a agro-biotech company based in Kfar Tavor, Israel, that develops and uses proprietary non-transgenic technologies to boost inherent crop productivity for sustainable development, closed in July on an $8mm Series A financing round co-led by DFJ Tamir Fishman Ventures and Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) along with alternative energy fund Musea Ventures.

According to a press release, the company is using the new financing to establish a world-wide production, marketing and commercialization network to meet growing demand for its products and to expand its development pipeline to additional high-impact strategic crops.

Founded in 2006, Kaiima (formerly – Biofuel International) is led by a team of experts in the fields of advanced plant breeding and agro-biotechnology, agrotechnology, and energy. The company is using a proprietary non-transgenic technology platform that increases the yield potential in important crops such as wheat, rapeseed, and castor. The successful application of this technology can help mitigate the threatened shortage in basic food and energy.

Green Prophet's Karin Kloosterman interviewed a product manager at Kaiima who explained the company's technology and business plan.

At the time of Kaiima's Series A financing, Dr. Benny Zeevi
, Managing General Partner at Tamir Fishman Ventures and a Board Member at Kaiima stated: “Kaiima represents for us the winning combination that we seek in Israeli high tech companies: a top tier group of founders, and a unique breakthrough technology. The company’s products are aimed at one of the most urgent major global needs and it has the potential to become a market leader.

Jennifer Fonstad, Managing Director at DFJ added that “Kaiima’s platform promises to deliver important solutions for the alternative energy market worldwide. We are excited to work with the team, the Board, and our partners at DFJ Tamir Fishman in building on this opportunity."

Dr. Doron Gal, Kaiima CEO and co-founder of Kaiima said: "We share a mutual vision with DFJ Tamir Fishman Ventures and with Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and a mutual excitement at the opportunity to provide solutions to some key challenges faced by contemporary society. We are proud to team with these two leading venture capital groups, and we believe that they will provide both the local support and the global leverage needed by Kaiima to fully realize its potential."

Related Posts:

Jennifer Fonstad of DFJ Tamir Fishman Ventures interviewed by Globes

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Qteros partners with Applied CleanTech on wastewater to ethanol process

Qteros and Applied CleanTech announced details today of a partnership to develop a process for turning municipal wastewater into ethanol for vehicle fuel and other uses.

Qteros, a venture-backed biofuel company based in Massachusetts, has entered into a joint development project with Applied CleanTech (ACT), a commodities recycling company based in Israel, to use ACT’s Recyllose™-based feedstock, produced from municipal wastewater solids, for efficient and low-cost ethanol production. ACT’s Sewage Recycling System (SRS), an innovative solution for recycling wastewater solids, produces alternative energy sources for the production of electricity or ethanol, while reducing sludge formation and lowering wastewater treatment plant costs and increasing plant capacity.

The companies said they are the first to demonstrate commercial success in creating ethanol from the cellulose in municipal and agricultural liquid waste, and to offer a process that all municipalities can use to help reduce expenses.

QTeros' and ACT's research has been supported in part by a grant from the Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation. The BIRD Foundation funds joint efforts between Israel and the United States, and their financial support resulted in the collaboration between Qteros and ACT.

QTeros raised raised $25 million in a Series B financing in October 2008. Investors in the company include BP, Venrock, Battery Ventures, Valero, and Soros Fund Management.

“Our customer is every municipality that has a wastewater treatment plant,” said Jeff Hausthor, Qteros co-founder and senior project manager. “It will provide a value-added product for municipal wastewater plants, thereby making treatment plants much less expensive to run and helping local governments throughout the world with their constrained budgets.”

Israel Biran, ACT’s CEO, added, “It also helps answer the question of what municipalities can do with their sewage sludge, a major challenge now facing every wastewater treatment plant operator.”

ACT has spent six years developing its integrated sewage recycling solution. According to ACT, its Recyllose™-based feedstock offers high cellulose content and low moisture, facilitating more efficient ethanol production. The SRS is already in commercial use, with facilities in Israel and the United States currently making Recyllose™-based products from sewage sludge and other cellulose-rich waste while reducing sludge output and wastewater treatment plant costs.

By using ACT’s proprietary feedstock, Hausthor said Qteros and ACT’s researchers have found that an ethanol production plant can produce 120–135 gallons of ethanol per ton of Recyllose™.

Since Recyllose™ is low in lignin (a major component of plant cell walls that is difficult to degrade), and lignin can be inhibitory to efficient conversion to ethanol, Hausthor said the material improves cellulosic plant operational efficiency 20 percent over higher lignin content feedstocks.

Qteros’ CEO William Frey said that with previous technologies, a cellulosic ethanol plant would have to produce roughly 20-30 million gallons per year (MGY) in order to be profitable. With the proposed Qteros-ACT process, Frey said, production with these economics could be viable at a smaller scale.

ACT President Dr. Refael Aharon said that a wastewater plant that handles 150 million gallons a day (serving a population of about 2 million people) can be sufficient to supply a smaller-scale ethanol plant with cellulose.

Related Posts:

U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Act launches at Eilat conference

BIRD Foundation invests in U.S.-Israel cleantech projects

Ashalim solar thermal tender delayed again

The tender for the solar thermal power project at Ashalim, Israel has suffered its third delay, because not all the regulatory permits have been obtained, the electricity production license has not yet been written, and the financial aid criteria for the winner have been formulated, according a report in Globes.

Globes reports that the deadline for submitting bids to the joint Ministry of Finance and Ministry of National Infrastructures tender committee, headed by Deputy Accountant General Avi Dor, has been pushed back from October 21, 2009 to December 10, 2009 .

The Ministries of Finance and National Infrastructures have allowed the seven bidders who passed the prequalification stage of the tender more time to prepare their bids.

The $700-800 million build-operate-transfer (BOT) tender is for construction and operation of two solar thermal power plants with a total output of 220 Megawatts.

The seven consortia participating in the Ashalim tender are:

Related Posts:

Finance and Infrastructures Ministries in dispute over technology for Israel's first solar power station

Skypower mulls bid for Negev solar project

Israel plans 250-MW solar power plant