Thursday, April 30, 2009

Shai Agassi named to Time 100 list of world's most influential people

Shai Agassi, Founder and CEO of Better Place, the electric car infrastructure start-up, was named today to the Time 100, a list of the world's most influential people.

This is the second year running that a leader of Israel's cleantech industry has been named to the Time 100. Isaac Berzin, founder of GreenFuel Technologies and the Institute for Alternative Energy Resarch at IDC Herzliya, made the list in 2008.

Agassi was born in Ramat Gan, Israel and graduated from Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, where he received a bachelor’s degree in computer science.

Better Place has raised more than $300 million and is partnering with utilities and governments to install its electric vehicle infrastructure in Israel, Denmark, Australia, Portugal, Ontario, Hawaii, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, Better Place's primary R&D center is in Israel.

Alan Salzman, CEO of VantagePoint Venture Partners, a major investor in Better Place, says that Agassi is "the closest we've seen to a Steve Jobs of clean tech — visionary, technologist, businessman. What's it like working with him? Exhilarating, exhausting, challenging, gratifying. He recently turned 41. Wonder what he'll do after transporting us to a better place?"

Agassi was also recently profiled in the New York Times Magazine.

Related Posts:

Better Place and Haifa to cooperate on electric car infrastructure

Better Place raises €103 million, names new Danish CEO

Better Place appoints Israel CEO, declares Israel as primary R&D center

Isaac Berzin, Israel's "Green Giant"

Sunday, April 26, 2009

ETV Motors raises $12M Series A round from Quercus Trust and 21Ventures

ETV Motors Ltd., a Herzliya, Israel-based start-up developing innovative electric vehicle propulsion technology, has announced its Series A investment round. The round was led by Quercus Trust of Newport Beach, California, with New York-based 21Ventures co-investing.

The $12 million milestone-driven investment will, according to the company, enable ETV Motors to move rapidly ahead with a multi-year research and development program in which it is partnering with universities and development organizations.

ETV Motors also revealed details about its development of enabling technologies for hybrid range-extended electric vehicles (REEVs). The company’s activity is focused on a novel, high-efficiency, dual-power micro-turbine and a proprietary high voltage lithium-ion battery. Integration of these optimized components will result in an innovative electric vehicle propulsion platform.

"We believe that REEVs are the optimal approach," said Dror Ben David, CEO of ETV Motors. "Our micro-turbine on-board charger and 4.7V lithium-ion cathode chemistry will facilitate the coming generations of environmentally-friendly, cost-effective, light-weight and safe electric vehicles."

"There are huge opportunities for disruptive, enabling technologies in the automotive field" said David Anthony, Managing Partner at 21Ventures. 'The approach of the ETV Motors team is based on innovative science, together with a sound vision of the future of electric vehicles. At 21Ventures, we see this as a game-changing approach, and we are pleased to be working with the company."

21Ventures' primary geographic focus is Israel, where over half of the funds investment capital has been deployed to date. 21Ventures currently manages more than $250 million worth of investments in 25 companies in Israel and the United States. More than half of 21Ventures’ investments are in clean energy companies.

Quercus Trust, funded by multimillionaire David Gelbaum, has quietly become one of the most active investors in the global cleantech industry. According to Greentech Media, David Gelbaum and Quercus Trust have made at least 47 cleantech investments. Five of Gelbaum's cleantech investments, in cooperation with 21Ventures, are in Israeli startups: 3GSolar, BioPetroClean, ETV Motors, TechnoSpin Wind, and Variable Wind.

Related Posts:

Variable Wind raises $2.5m from Quercus Trust, 21Ventures and AquAgro Fund

21Ventures and Quercus Trust award grant to support solar research at Weizmann Institute

BioPetroClean raises funds from 21Ventures

TechnoSpin Wind raises $8m from 21Ventures

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Israel boasts 6 water startups, including Emefcy and AquaPure, in Artemis Project list

A list of the top water technology companies in the world, announced last week by the Artemis Project, includes six water startups based in Israel.

The Artemis Project, a California-based consultancy and research firm, sponsored the first Top 50 Water Companies Competition to identify the leading game-changing technologies that provide venture grade investment opportunities in the water sector. The companies were selected by a panel of experts based on an integrated matrix of four criteria: technology, intellectual property and know-how, team and market potential.

Israel's representatives in the Top 50 include:

#4 Emefcy: Emefcy, based in Caesarea, is the developer of the MEGAWATTER™ platform, a bio-electro-chemical process for electricity and hydrogen production using wastewater as a fuel. This technology addresses a market of industrial wastewater treatment plants in which anaerobic treatment is not applicable, thus expensive-to-operate aerobic treatment is applied. Emefcy currently runs several prototypes and plans to commence field piloting in Q3/2009. Emefcy raised a first round of financing from Israel Cleantech Ventures in 2007.

#7 AquaPure: AquaPure, based in Dalton, was founded in 2002 to provide the municipal and groundwater treatment markets with innovative and proprietary Non Thermal Plasma (NTP) technology to remove micro pollutants from contaminated drinking water. AquaPure has raised funds from Ludan Engineering and the Office of Chief Scientist. According to the company, AquaPure performed successful pilot testing in California, and scale up to a commercial beta unit test is scheduled to operate during Q1 and Q2 2009 in order to generate revenues starting Q1 2010.

#21 CheckLight: CheckLight, based in Kiryat Tivon, is developing, manufacturing and marketing cost effective, wide spectrum, automatic bioluminescencebased water quality tests for rapid screening and real-time water quality monitoring. CheckLight has raised up to $3.5 million from Whitewater Technology Group, an Israeli investment company.

#36 ProWell Technologies: ProWell Technologies, based in Tel Aviv, is the developer of "Air Shock", an innovative, non-destructive and environmentally friendly technology for water well rehabilitation, development and stimulation.

#48 Lesico CleanTech: Lesico CleanTech is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Lesico-Leshman Group, and specializes in the development and marketing of technologies for the treatment of industrial brine in general and for the treatment of brine at brackish water desalination facilities in Israel in particular. Current brine removal methods create severe environmental problems, contaminate water sources and soil, and face strict regulations that ban the expanded use of these methods. Lesico CleanTech, in cooperation with Ben-Gurion University and its Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, has consequently developed technological solutions for the reduction of the volume of brine by means of accelerated evaporation and by recycling and reusing brine using electro-dialysis.

#49: BioPetroClean: BioPetroClean, based in Petah Tikva, specializes in bioremediation of industrial wastewaters. The company's Automated Chemostat Treatement (ACT) technology can be applied to a wide variety of sites, including oil refineries, terminals, drilling sites, marine ports, power stations, contaminated reservoires and storage tanks. BioPetroClean has raised $8.5 million from 21Ventures and Quercus Trust.

“The Artemis Project’s Top 50 Water Companies Competition winners have excelled in key strategic areas in the emerging advanced water technology sector,” said Laura Shenkar, Principal of The Artemis Project. “We are excited to spotlight these innovative companies for the first time on the world’s stage and congratulate them for their achievements in introducing the solutions that will reinvent the water landscape.”

"We are proud to be selected as one of the top five winners of the Artemis Project’s Top 50 Water Companies Competition" said Eytan Levy, Emefcy's co-founder and CEO. "It verifies our belief that our mission of applying a profitable, innovative new source of energy is on the right path," says Levy.

Related Posts:

Emefcy signs collaboration agreements, raising Series A funds

BioPetroClean raises funds from 21Ventures

CheckLight raises $3.5 million from Whitewater

Miya Water partners with Michigan on "Green Jobs for Blue Waters" initiative

Miya Water is partnering with the State of Michigan, the Detroit Water and Sewage Department, and the city of Farmington Hills to set up pilot demonstration projects to lower the amount of water lost through Michigan's aging municipal water systems.

The so-called "Green Jobs for Blue Waters" initiative was unveiled last week by Lt. Gov. John Cherry. The goal is to eventually broaden out the program and establish a Michigan training center to help create new jobs in fields like engineering, manufacturing, installation and maintenance.

"As these projects expand, we will train more Michigan workers and develop expertise that we can export nationally and globally as well," Lt. Gov. John Cherry said in unveiling the initiative.

"No question, it's a business opportunity, but we see it as a business opportunity for Michigan as well," said Booky Oren, Miya's President and CEO. "I think that when you are dealing with efficiency, you create more from existing resources."

Most water system operators make "major mistakes" in seeking to immediately replace pipes when leaks occur, he said.

"By controlling pressure, you immediately reduce the water loss amount and only after that you have a lot of data (about) what's going on, and then you begin to prioritize where you replace pipes," Oren said.

Miya, based in Tel Aviv, specializes in developing urban water-loss technology. Miya’s mission is to help the cities of the world benefit from the huge opportunity presented by water loss reduction and effective management of urban water. Miya’s offering presents a comprehensive water loss solution for municipalities, from audit of the city’s water system to full project execution and maintenance.

According to a report in the Michigan Business Review, The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department provides an average of 675 million gallons of drinking water per day to nearly 4 million customers across 1,079 square miles in Southeast Michigan.

While amounts of loss vary according to location and age of the system, the department's latest estimate is that it loses an average of 9 percent of its drinking water supplies to leaks, said Pam Turner, interim director.

"This is treated water that we're losing out of the system," she said.

Miya workers will initially staff the two pilot projects, Oren said.

"No question that as soon as possible we need to find the right partners. Most of the jobs need to be by the local (companies) or even employees of the local utility," he said.

The project resulted from Gov. Jennifer Granholm's economic investment trip to Israel in November and a corresponding partnership agreement she signed with Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai.

"We have to understand that there is this nexus between water and energy," said Cherry, who leads a joint Michigan-Israel water technology working group. "This initiative is the next step in that progression to a new Michigan - alternative energy, blue water and on and on as we build the dream of a Michigan future.

"Ultimately what our goal here with this initiative is to put Michigan in the position of global leadership and expertise with water management systems."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ben-Gurion University signs deal with Bayer CropScience

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev signed an agreement with Bayer BioScience N.V., a subsidiary of Bayer CropScience, to develop solutions to help plants cope with extreme temperatures and limited water availability.

The agreement builds upon the expertise and breakthrough results from Dr. Simon Barak's laboratory at the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research (BIDR), according to an announcement by the University.

Barak's team is identifying genes that allow plants to tolerate the harsh environmental stresses characteristic of arid regions, and its study was published recently in the journal Plant Physiology.

Two of these genes have been studied in detail and the team found that by removing either of the two genes, the tolerance of the model plant, Arabidopsis, to heat, salt and drought could be increased.

The agreement signed between BGN Technologies -- the technology transfer company of Ben-Gurion University -- and Bayer CropScience will allow the identification of additional genes that have an effect on making plants more "stress-resistant".

Barak said the new collaboration will allow his team to further sift through the estimated 30,000 Arabidopsis genes to identify additional candidate stress tolerance genes.

BioScience is one of three business groups of Bayer CropScience, a subsidiary of Germany's Bayer AG with sales of 6.4 billion euros in 2008.

Related Posts:

Ben-Gurion U. researchers develop green window technology

Ben-Gurion University partners with Israel Cleantech Ventures

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Arrow Ecology wins California waste treatment deal; also in talks to build Maryland facility

Arrow Ecology, a waste-treatment company based in Haifa, Israel, and its partners partners have won a $17 million municipal solid waste to biofuel conversion project in southern California.

According to a report in Globes, Arrow Ecology's share of the project is $7-8 million, plus maintenance fees over the 20-year franchise.

Arrow Ecology will handle 50,000 tons of municipal solid waste a year sent from CR&R Waste and Recycling Services Inc., operates in the greater Los Angeles area.

Arrow Ecology was founded in 1975 to treat industrial waste, oils, and sludge. Its solid waste unit has 35 employees, and is now hiring marketing staff, process engineers, and machine engineers.

Consensus Business Group of the UK and a large Israeli investment company have invested $15 million in Arrow Ecology to date. The company's ArrowBio Process can recycle over 90% of municipal solid waste and converts the rest into biogas, such as methane and carbon dioxide, greatly reducing the need for landfills. Some of the biofuel can be used by heavy machinery.

According to another news report, Arrow Ecology is also in talks to construct an environmentally friendly waste treatment plant in Frederick County, Maryland.

Melvin Finstein, president of ArrowBio USA, and other representatives of Arrow Ecology, met in March with Frederick County local officials at the 24th International Conference on Solid Waste Technology and Management in Philadelphia.

Excerpt of Finstein's interview with the Frederick County Gazette are available here.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Israeli Environmental Protection Minister Erdan calls for freeze on planned coal-fired power plant

Israel's new Environmental Protection Minister, Gilad Erdan, has issued a detailed objection to the planned coal-fired power plant in Ashkelon.

Born and raised in Ashkelon, Erdan has long been a vocal opponent of Israel Electric Corp.'s plans to build two additional coal-fired units at the Rutenberg Power Station. Erdan asked the interim cabinet secretary to freeze plans for the new units and called for an updated plan for the energy marke that takes into account the recent discovery of natural gas off Israel's coast, the global economic crisis, and international climate change agreements.

Erdan listed eight reasons why another coal-fired power plant was unnecessary:

  • The discovery of large deposits of natural gas at the Tamar site, off Haifa, and the Dalit site, off Hadera, necessitated a reappraisal of the situation;

  • The financial crisis has already led to a 10 percent decrease in electricity use and momentum could be used to activate the national conservation campaign to reduce use by 20%;

  • The emergency plan put in place by the National Infrastructures Ministry last year had passed through planning committees faster than expected, thus putting more megawatts based on natural gas at the availability of the IEC;

  • Erdan urged upgrading and "re-powering" existing plants to produce more electricity rather than building new ones;

  • He urged the country to adopt energy streamlining measures such as those being advocated worldwide;

  • Even if a coal-fired plant needed to be built at some point, it should be built at a later date, after technological improvements made operation cleaner;

  • Noting that European countries had set renewable energy goals of 20% by 2020, Erdan called for Israel to do the same;

  • Finally, Erdan argued that it was counterproductive to build a highly polluting power plant when Israel would most likely have to abide by the post-Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions set to go into effect in 2012.
  • Saturday, April 18, 2009

    BrightSource Energy plans 600MW solar thermal project in Nevada

    BrightSource Energy, Inc., developer of large-scale solar thermal energy plants, announced last month that it has reached agreement on the principal terms of a private land contract with the Coyote Springs Land Company in Nevada.

    The agreement marks a critical step in the development of a solar thermal energy project that could provide up to 600 megawatts of clean reliable solar thermal energy to both the Nevada and California markets.

    "With abundant sun and access to key markets in Nevada and California, the Coyote Springs site is an ideal location to develop clean, reliable and low cost solar thermal energy," Tom Doyle, executive vice president of project development for BrightSource.

    The power from BrightSource's project could serve not only Coyote Springs, but also other BrightSource customers such as the Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric, said Keely Wachs, a spokesman for BrightSource, according to Greentech Media.

    BrightSource Industries (Israel) Ltd.
    ("BSII"), formerly known as Luz II Ltd., headquartered in Jerusalem, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BrightSource Energy. The BSII team provides product development and engineering services, and supplies the solar fields, including heliostats, solar boilers, and control systems for all of BrightSource Energy's projects.

    Arnold Goldman, the founder of BrightSource Energy, recently addressed the CleanIsrael meetup group in Tel Aviv. A transcript of his remarks is available on the group's web site.

    Related Posts:

    BrightSource Energy and SCE sign 1.3 GW solar thermal deal

    BrightSource / Luz II dedicate Negev Solar Energy Development Center

    BrightSource Energy raises $115 million in latest round of funding

    BrightSource signs large solar deal with PG&E

    Aqwise signs cooperation agreement with Mekorot to field-test biological treatment system for drinking water

    Aqwise, a Herzliya, Israel-based provider of advanced solutions for wastewater treatment, has signed a cooperation agreement with Mekorot, Israel's national water company, for field-testing an innovative technology for biological treatment of nitrate contamination in drinking water.

    The agreement was signed in the framework of WaTech, Mekorot’s entrepreneurship and partnership center for water technologies.

    Aqwise has recently begun developing innovative solutions for contaminants removal from drinking water. According to the company, these solutions are based on the unique technology and extensive knowledge that were achieved in the company in the field of biological treatment of wastewater, through the development and implementation of its moving-bed technology, AGAR (Attached Growth Airlift Reactor) process, utilizing biomass carriers.

    Nitrate is one of the most common contaminants of groundwater in the world and originates in agricultural fertilization, cesspits and dairy farming. Tens of thousands of wells in the US and in Europe contain Nitrate concentrations that exceed permitted standards. As a result, a significant part of the wells is closed and millions of cubes of potential drinking water are not being used.

    Elad Frenkel, CEO of Aqwise, commented “The company engages in constant research and development of innovative technologies for wastewater treatment and is glad to penetrate the drinking water treatment field, thus significantly expending its potential target market. Cost-effective groundwater contamination treatment has a great importance, especially nowadays, when the global water crisis becomes severe. The cooperation with 'Mekorot' is strategic for the company”.

    Mekorot CEO Ido Rosilio said, "The collaboration with Aqwise will help Mekorot find an effective and environmentally friendly solution for treating contaminants in drinking water. This solution can help return tens of thousands of cubic meters of clean water to Israel's water reservoirs."

    Related Posts:

    AqWise wins EU Eureka grant to develop wastewater treatment system

    AqWise to supply technology to wastewater treatment facility in Israel

    Israel Cleantech buys 11% of AqWise

    Tuesday, April 7, 2009

    Ormat installing solar panels at factory in Israel

    Ormat Industries Ltd., the parent of NYSE-listed Ormat Technologies, a world leader in geothermal and recovered energy power generation, will collaborate with Sunday Solar Energy Ltd. to install an NIS 20 million ($5 million) photovoltaic power system on the roof of Ormat's factory in Yavne, Israel.

    The system will have a capacity of 1 megawatt and surplus power not used by Ormat will be sold back to the Israel Electric Corporation. Ormat will thus benefit from the feed-in tariff established by Israel's Public Utilities Authority (Electricity) for the sale of electricity at NIS 1.97 per kilowatt/hour.

    Ormat is also participating in the tender for construction of a solar thermal power plant at Ashalim in the Negev.

    Related Posts:

    Ormat teams with Sunday Energy on $195M solar joint venture

    Sunday Solar to power Israeli kibbutzim

    A "Renewable Light Unto the Nations"

    SOVNA developing urban wind farms, releases video of pilot project

    SOVNA, a Tel Aviv-based startup that installs vertical micro wind turbines atop high-rise buildings, is currently featured on Israel21c.

    Erez Ella, a noted Israeli architect whose projects include the Museum Plaza in Louisville, Kentucky, is one of Sovna's co-founders and participated in the CICC Cleantech Tour of Silicon Valley in 2008. Previously called ALT E, SOVNA was also featured in Ha'aretz last year.

    Below is a short video that includes images from SOVNA's pilot project atop an Israeli skyscraper and commentary from the founding team of Guy Shahar (CEO), Erez Ella (CTO) and Danny Cohen.

    Related Posts:

    Israel sets feed-in tariff for wind power

    Israeli cleantech startups to visit Silicon Valley

    ALT E to develop urban wind farms

    Monday, April 6, 2009

    Better Place and Haifa cooperate on electric car infrastructure

    Every new building to be built in Haifa, Israel's third largest city, must include infrastructure compatible with charge spots for electric cars, according to a memorandum of understanding between Better Place and the Municipality of Haifa.

    The document was signed by Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav and Better Place Israel CEO Moshe Kaplinsky, according to a March report by Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahranot.

    According to the agreement, Haifa will also conduct a three-year pilot study to examine the feasibility of using electric cars and will allow Better Place to build exchange stations and charge spots throughout the city.

    "Local authorities' heads are showing much interest in taking part in the electric car project in order to improve the quality of life of their residents," Kaplinsky said last month.

    "Mayors understand the need to prepare for the coming of the electric car and to lay out an infrastructure that will, for the first time, allow fast, convenient and available charging. Better Place has already set up 400 charging stations in various cities."

    Related Posts:

    Better Place partners with 19 Israeli companies

    IDF considers Better Place infrastructure and electric troop carriers

    Better Place appoints Israel CEO, declares Israel as primary R&D center

    Israel developing hybrid electric Hummer

    Israel Military Industries (IMI), the Ramat Hasharon, Israel-based defense company, is developing an electric version of the Hummer all-terrain vehicle.

    According to Globes, this is a project of IMI's Slavin Land Systems Division, which also develops and upgrades armored vehicles and tanks.

    The Israeli electric Hummer will use a powerful battery-operated electric motor combined with a diesel engine, which functions as a generator and recharger for the batteries when necessary. The combination extends the effective operating range of the Hummer from a few dozen kilometers on electric power to more than 450 kilometers, with a single tank of diesel fuel.

    The electric Hummer is especially effective for military missions that require silence. The vehicle is also low-maintenance, has high survivability, clean emissions, and high performance. It is supposed to reach speeds of over 120 km/h and has rapid acceleration. Use of a generator for self-recharging is aimed at providing independent mobility without the need for a special recharging infrastructure.

    IMI believes that the electric Hummer project has the potential for upgrading 200,000 military Hummers that are nearing the end of their operational lives worldwide.

    Related Posts:

    IDF considers Better Place infrastructure and electric troop carriers