Thursday, May 28, 2009

GreenRoad raises $15m from DAG Ventures and existing investors

GreenRoad, which is developing technologies to encourage safe and fuel-efficient driving behavior, announced today that it has raised $15 million in growth funding.

DAG Ventures, a venture capital investment partnership, led the round with participation from existing investors Benchmark Capital, Virgin Green Fund, Amadeus Capital and Balderton Capital.

GreenRoad also announced that Nick Pianim, managing director at DAG Ventures, was appointed to the company’s board of directors.

“We are very proud to have earned the confidence of DAG Ventures, as well as our existing institutional investors,” said Dan Steere, CEO of GreenRoad. “This investment of capital will enable GreenRoad to accelerate its expansion with fleet customers and partners.”

“We were encouraged by the company’s successive quarters of revenue growth, despite the current economic climate,” said Pianim. “GreenRoad’s ability to cut crash costs up to 50 percent and generate fuel savings of up to 10 percent has broad appeal to insurers and enterprise fleets across several industries. The GreenRoad Service presents a scalable approach to improving safety and fuel economy that resonates with commercial fleets looking to mitigate risk, offset volatile insurance and fuel costs and impact their bottom line immediately.”

“GreenRoad has a track record of delivering results and we are excited to continue investing in a company that is successfully responding to the global challenge of unsafe and inefficient driving,” said Elie Wurtman, general partner at Benchmark Capital and Chairman of GreenRoad’s Board of Directors.

GreenRoad is headquartered in Redwood Shores, California, with sales offices throughout the U.S. and UK and an R&D Center in Or Yehuda, Israel. The company was founded in 2003 by Hod Fleishman and Ofer Raz.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Solaredge partners with BP Solar to test solar efficiency products

SolarEdge is joining forces with BP Solar to test new products designed to help solar modules operate more efficiently in harvesting the sun's rays, the companies said today in a press release.

BP Solar, a unit of oil giant BP Plc, will integrate into its solar modules SolarEdge's electronics that are designed to reduce the losses in solar arrays. Those losses can cut their power output by as much as 20 percent.

In support of this activity, BP Solar and SolarEdge have been awarded a research grant by the Israeli and US governments as part of the BIRD Foundation (Bi-national Industrial Research and Development), which contributes to joint development.

Solar panels typically turn between 10 to 15 percent of the sun's light into electricity, but that output can be reduced by partial shading of the arrays and other glitches in the electronic equipment that transports power between the panels.

SolarEdge, based in Herzliya, Israel, produces equipment that can help eliminate inefficiencies in the solar module arrays.

The company's products also make the solar systems safer, according to Chief Executive Officer Guy Sella, and can be used to provide data to customers on cells or modules that are damaged and not producing power at their capacity.

SolarEdge currently has three products, including a chipset called the PowerBox that manufacturers can embed into their solar modules to boost power output, but can also be added on as a retrofit. There’s also an inverter and web-based monitoring software for identifying maintenance needs and energy loss, and preventing theft.

In an interview with Earth2Tech, Sella said SolarEdge is on track to reach “general availability” between late July and September of this year. The company is in the final stages of negotiations with two manufacturers and expects to complete those by the end of June. By July, SolarEdge plans to establish a subsidiary in Germany, and by September or October Sella expects to have a presence in the U.S., on the West Coast.

According to a report in Reuters, SolarEdge expects to have orders for equipment that generate more than 12 megawatts of electricity by the end of 2009, and as much as 80 MW in 2010. The company expects to be cash-flow positive in the fourth quarter of 2010, and could launch an initial public offering of shares in the second half of 2011, Sella said.

In December 2008, SolarEdge completed a $23 million Series B financing round. Vertex Venture Capital led the round and was joined by the company's existing investors, Genesis Partners, Walden International, and Opus Capital.

Sella told Earth2Tech that for the last three to four months SolarEdge has been in talks with an investor who may add $3 million to $5 million to the Series B round. He said they would be a “very big strategic partner” if the deal comes through.

SolarEdge has raised nearly $35 million in venture capital funding since its inception in 2006.

Earlier this week, SolarEdge announced the appointment of Zvi Lando as its VP of Global Sales.

Lando joins SolarEdge from Applied Materials where he served as vice president, general manager of the Baccini Cell Systems (BCS) Solar Business Group,
the global leader in screen printing equipment for the solar industry.

Related Posts:

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Tigo Energy raises $10m Series B from ICV, Matrix, OVP and Clal Energy

Tigo Energy, a solar start-up whose unique technology significantly increases efficiency in photovoltaic solar installations, announced today that it has closed its Series B round of funding.

The $10 million round was led by Israel Cleantech Ventures and joined by all existing investors (Matrix Partners, OVP and Clal Energy). The series B financing represented a significant premium to Tigo Energy's $6 million Series A venture round in May of 2008.

Meir Ukeles of Israel Cleantech Ventures has joined the Tigo Board of Directors following the round. In January, Tigo Energy added three cleantech industry veterans to its board of advisers.

According to Tigo Energy President Ron Hadar, "Particularly given the state of the current financial and venture markets, Tigo Energy's rapid close of this round shows great confidence by the venture community in our product, progress and people."

Sam Arditi, the CEO of Tigo Energy, who will be on hand at InterSolar in Munich to showcase the Tigo Energy(TM) Maximizer System, is also pleased to announce that "the company's pipeline is full and quickly ramping revenue."

Founded in 2007, Tigo Energy has successfully deployed 18 installations in the United States, Europe and Japan. The company claims to now be rapidly moving to volume production.

Based in Los Gatos, California, in October 2008 Tigo Energy announced the opening of an office in Kfar Saba, Israel, that will focus on the company's engineering activities. Mordechay (Modi) Avrutsky heads Tigo Energy's Israel operation and serves as Vice President of Engineering.

More information about Tigo Energy's technology and business plan is available online in this presentation by the company. Gunther Porfolio discusses the company's technology in this recent post.

Related Posts:

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ormat to build 330 MW geothermal plant in Indonesia

Ormat Technologies is combining with Itochu Corporation to build a 330 megawatt (MW) geothermal power plant in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia.

The project will cost an estimated $800 million, according a report in Reuters. Ormat and Japan's Itochu Corp. were originally awarded the contract in 2006 and are working in collaboration with Indonesdian energy firm PT Medco.

On Wednesday, Indonesia's energy ministry urged PT Medco to speed up construction. "We want this project to be built quickly because it is very important for Indonesia," J. Purwono, director general of electricity at the ministry, told reporters, adding, "we badly need more power plants."

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, does not maintain diplomatic relations with Israel. The only OPEC member in Southeast Asia., Indonesia has become a net importer of oil in recent years.

The vast archipelago, with hundreds of active and extinct volcanoes, has the potential to produce an estimated 27,000 MW of electricity from geothermal sources.

Ormat Technologies is the NYSE-listed, U.S.-based subsidiary or Ormat Industries. Ormat Industries, located in Yavne, Israel, is one of the world's leading vertically integrated companies dedicated to providing solutions for geothermal power, recovered energy generation (REG) and remote power.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

BrightSource and PG&E sign 1,310 MW solar power deal

BrightSource Energy announced today that it has entered into a series of contracts with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) for a total of 1,310 megawatts (MW) of solar thermal power.

These power purchase agreements, covering seven projects, supersede the agreements PG&E executed with BrightSource in April 2008 for up to 900 MW of solar thermal power.

The first of these solar power plants, sized at 110 MW and located in Ivanpah, California, is contracted to begin operation in 2012. BrightSource will build and place in commercial operation each of its plants as quickly as permitting and infrastructure allow.

All seven projects are expected to produce 3,666 gigawatt-hours of power each year, equal to the annual consumption of about 530,000 average homes.

“Today’s agreements reflect the technological milestones that the BrightSource Energy team has achieved over the past year,” said John Woolard, CEO of BrightSource Energy. “Our technology is setting the bar for efficient production of solar energy. We’re thrilled by the opportunity to help PG&E and other leaders bring energy customers more clean and reliable solar energy.”

“The solar thermal projects announced today exemplify PG&E’s commitment to increasing the amount of renewable energy we provide to our customers throughout northern and central California,” said John Conway, senior vice president of energy supply for PG&E. “Through these agreements with BrightSource, we can harness the sun’s energy to meet our customers’ power requirements when they need it most – during hot summer days.”

BrightSource Energy now has contracted to sell more than 2,600 megawatts of power to be generated using its proprietary solar thermal technology. Headquartered in Oakland, Calif., BrightSource Energy is a privately held company with operations in the United States and Israel.

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.

Related Posts:

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Better Place unveils battery switch technology in Japan

Better Place today unveiled the prototype of its battery switch technology in Yokohama, Japan. The system is a key component of Better Place's planned infrastructure of electric car exchange stations and charge spots.

Better Place showcased its battery switch platform using a modified NISSAN electric crossover SUV to demonstrate how to switch a depleted battery for a fully charged one.

“Today marks a major milestone for the automotive industry as well as for Better Place,” said Shai Agassi, Founder and CEO, Better Place, in a company press release. “For nearly a century, the automotive industry has been inextricably tied to oil. Today, we’re demonstrating a new path forward where the future of transportation and energy is driven by our desire for a clean planet and a robust economic recovery fueled by investments in clean technology, and one in which the well-being of the automotive industry is intrinsically coupled with the well-being of the environment.”

The Renault-Nissan Alliance is partnering with Better Place in Israel to enable zero-emissions mobility throughout the country by 2011. The realization of zero-emissions mobility in Israel will require the deployment of battery switch stations as well as a steady and reliable supply of vehicles adapted to accept the switchable-battery layout required by the Better Place business model.

“Japan has always been at the forefront of automotive engineering and design and maintains a strong sense of environmentalism,” said Kiyotaka Fujii, President of Better Place Japan and Head of Business Development for Asia Pacific. “The launch of Japan’s electric vehicle study is an important milestone in achieving a zero-emission transportation society, and our successful demonstration of charging vehicles with both fixed and switchable batteries is an important contribution towards moving the entire industry forward.”

Moshe Kaplinsky
, CEO of Better Place Israel, told Globes: "This is a great achievement for Better Place and for Israel. The technology, which was developed in Israel, was presented in the heart of Japan's automobile industry. The development and demonstration of the battery replacement technology brings us significantly closer to completing the company's solution for developing a full recharging infrastructure for electric cars."

Related Posts:

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

BusinessWeek covers "Israel's Cleantech Pioneers"

Israel's cleantech industry is the focus of an article in the current issue of BusinessWeek.

A feature article, titled "Israel's Clean Technology Pioneers," includes coverage of companies and venture capital funds including Ormat Technologies, BrightSource Industries, Netafim, and Israel Cleantech Ventures. It also includes a quote from the author of this blog.

Highlights of the article include:
  • Yavne, a hazy industrial corridor in central Israel, seems at first glance an improbable haven for geothermal technology. Its largely barren environs offer no geysers or volcanoes, the essential raw materials for geothermal energy. Yet this small city of 32,000 is home to Ormat Technologies, a $2 billion multinational listed on the New York Stock Exchange that builds geothermal power plants around the world, from Colorado to Kenya.
  • Israel's siege mentality is driving its six-decade quest to coax more from the soil, water, air, and sunlight than do most other nations on earth.... "The world is now realizing it has to deal with things that Israel has had to tackle for 50 years," says Jacques Benkoski, a venture capitalist with Silicon Valley-based U.S. Venture Partners. "Doing more with less is becoming the standard."
  • Google co-founder Sergey Brin and several U.S. politicians have paid visits to Israel recently to learn about water- and energy-conservation technologies. "We can't rely on others for our safety and security," says Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, who is looking to import Israeli solar expertise.
  • Israel is a nation of contradictions, socialist in many ways but laissez-faire when it comes to the economy. The national equivalent of a startup, it was founded by people willing to make a go of it in a swath of land dominated by desert.
  • Today Hatzerim and two affiliated kibbutzes remain majority owners of the company that has grown into Netafim, a $500 million high-tech drip-irrigation giant employing 2,600 people in 110 countries.
  • BrightSource's technology seems right out of science fiction. As the van traverses the final mile to a test center in Dimona, what looks like a burning oil rig looms in the distance. Inside the maximum-security complex, passengers present their passports and don protective boots to guard their feet from the scorching sands. A semicircular array of 1,641 mechanized coffee-table-size mirrors pivot to reflect the desert sun's rays onto the boiler atop the rig, which BrightSource calls a "power tower." The company's power towers produce superheated steam for turbines. They "offer the maximum level of efficiency," says Alan E. Salzman, managing partner of Silicon Valley's VantagePoint, BrightSource's largest investor.
  • What if Israel could find the will to harness the power of its drip pipes, power towers, and desert fish farms? "Israel has such a geopolitical vested interest to steer this innovation," says Jonathan Shapira, a corporate attorney in Boston who organizes and blogs about Israeli cleantech. "Innovating around scarcity is increasingly the world's story."
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Better Place applauds Hawaii's electric car legislation

Hawai'i will require large parking lots to reserve spaces for electric cars and to provide recharging capacity if a bill passed by the state's Legislature is signed into law.

The measure would take Hawai'i one step closer to developing a viable electric-vehicle market, supporters say.

"We think it's a great step forward for Hawai'i," said Pete Cooper, spokesman for Better Place Hawaii, which is seeking to create a $1 billion statewide charging network for such cars.

The Legislature gave Better Place's initiative a boost this week when it approved a bill authorizing the issuance of up to $45 million in special-purpose revenue bonds for the company's planned network.

Better Place signed an agreement with Hawaiian Electric Co. in December 2008 to make such service possible as early as 2011, and the initiative has the backing of Gov. Linda Lingle. Better Place told legislators it wants to develop a system to support more than 10,000 electric vehicles in Hawai'i by 2014, according to a report in the Honolulu Advertiser.

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. Shai Agassi, Better Place's Founder and CEO, was named to the Time 100 in April 2009.

The electric-vehicle bill was among a handful of adopted measures that environmentalists applauded yesterday as the Legislature wrapped up its session.

One bill would increase the tax on a barrel of oil by $1 to help the state explore alternative energy and protect local agriculture. Another bill would require public utilities to produce 25 percent of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020 and 40 percent by 2040.

The electric-vehicle bill would require that any parking lot with at least 100 public stalls be required to set aside 1 percent of the total spaces for electric cars by Dec. 31, 2011. The requirement would increase to 2 percent when at least 5,000 electric vehicles are registered in the state.

The bill also mandates that at least one recharging mechanism be made available in the parking lot.

The bills now go to Gov. Lingle for her review.

Related Posts:

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Better Place and Hawaii to partner on electric car project

Better Place and Haifa to cooperate on electric car infrastructure

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

B-Solar, solar cell start-up, raises $3m from Genesis Partners

B-Solar Ltd., a solar cell start-up based in Israel, has raised $3 million from Genesis Partners in a first round of fund-raising. B-Solar also raised an undisclosed sum from angel investor and serial entrepreneur Gidi Barak, founder of IXI Mobile and DSP Communications (aquired by Intel in 2000), according to reports in Globes and The Marker (Hebrew) and a press release from Genesis.

B-Solar, founded in December 2007, is in stealth mode and does not have a web site, and little information about the company is publicly available. The company plans on establishing a manufacturing facility in 2010 to produce its photovoltaic cells, initially at a production capacity of 70 megawatts per year.

B-Solar's co-founder and CEO is Yossi Kofman. According to Kofman's bio, B-Solar "develops and manufactures photovoltaic (PV) bifacial, silicon solar cells that can provide 15-20% more energy per dollar production than the best of breed counterparts."

In the press release, Kofman states: “B-Solar will become a leading manufacturer of photovoltaic cells, producing hundreds of megawatts per year, while maintaining our technological leadership and competitive advantage". He adds, “B-Solar is in contact with a number of international photovoltaic panel manufacturers who have expressed interest in the product".

Yossi Kofman, who holds a D.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, was previously the co-founder and CEO of Modem-Art, a fabless semiconductor company acquired by Agere Systems (now LSI Logic) for $145 million in 2005. Modem-Art's investors included Genesis Partners, which is now backing Kofman at B-Solar.

B-Solar's other founders are Professor Naftali Eisenberg (CTO), Dr. Lev Kreinin (Chief Scientist), and Dr. Ninel Bordin (Scientist) of the Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT). Professor Eisenberg founded and led the photovoltaic solar energy center and the non-conventional optics laboratory at (JCT), and, together with his colleagues, Dr. Kreinin and Dr. Bordin, turned the center into a leading university laboratory in the field of silicon based solar cells.

In 2007, Eisenberg authored an article on "Dialectic microconcentrators for efficiency enhancement in concentrator solar cells." In 2008, Eisenberg, Kreinin and Bordin co-authored an article on "A novel method for determining bulk diffusion length in bifacialsilicon solar cells."

Avishai Drori, a graduate of the Jerusalem College of Technology, and a veteran of Israel's high-tech industry, is B-Solar's Director of Product Management.

Following the $3 million investment, Genesis Partners' team members Dr. Eyal Kishon and Gary Gannot will reportedly join B-Solar's board of directors.

Gary Gannot, General Partner at Genesis Partners, stated, “We believe this is a unique investment in a high-potential company that will both spearhead research and development in the field and become a leading PV manufacturer. The global PV industry is poised for continued dramatic growth in demand, and we believe that B-Solar’s innovative technology and products will help realize the potential of this large and emerging market".

Genesis Partners is also backing SolarEdge, a stealth solar start-up developing advanced power-harvesting solutions for photovoltaic arrays that will lower the average cost per watt produced. Herzliya, Israel-based SolarEdge raised $23 million in a Series B financing round in 2008.

Related Posts:

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