Sunday, January 10, 2010

HelioFocus raises $10m from China's Sanhua and IC Green Energy

HelioFocus Ltd., an Israel-based solar thermal systems start-up, has raised more than $10 million from China's Zhejiang Sanhua Co. and existing investor IC Green Energy.

HelioFocus announced the investment last week at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, where HelioFocus is developing its solar thermal technology to boost electricity production of existing power plants.

HelioFocus CEO Ory Zik said Sanhua, the Chinese maker of appliance components whose stock is traded on the Shenzhen stock exchange, would be not just a financial investor in the company, but will also produce some solar thermal components.

"We will be able to reduce costs and move relatively quickly to manufacturing," Zik told Reuters. "Components that can be made at lower cost in China will be produced there."

Sanhua, which will hold 30 percent of HelioFocus, will invest $9.25 million directly in the company and will acquire $1.25 million worth of shares from its founders.

IC Green Energy, the renewable energy investment arm of holding company Israel Corp, is the largest shareholder in HelioFocus with a 40 percent stake. It will invest $2.3 million in HelioFocus alongside Sanhua's investment.

The rest of HelioFocus is held by workers and management, including Sass Somekh, Co-Chairman of HelioFocus and Founder of Musea Ventures.

In 2008, HelioFocus raised a $10 million first round of financing from IC Green Energy, and the company is also a recipient of an $800,000 BIRD Foundation grant. The current investment from Sanhua and IC Green Energy values HelioFocus at $45 million.

Zik said HelioFocus, whose system converts the sun's rays into hot air to produce electricity, will release its first product in 2012 and is working on a pilot project in Israel. Funds raised from Sanhua will be used by HelioFocus to continue its research.

"We believe that the thermo-solar market will grow significantly, together with the rapid global development and ongoing legislation in the clean energy market," Yom Tov Samia, Co-Chairman of HelioFocus and president and CEO of IC Green Energy, said in a statement.

Jacky Eldan, Israeli consul general in China, said the door opened by Sanhua will pave the way for more cooperation and investments of Chinese companies in Israel.

HelioFocus' financing announcement is the latest in a series of successes for Israeli solar thermal companies. Siemens AG bought Israel-based Solel Solar Systems Ltd. for about $418 million in October 2009, AORA Solar raised $5 million in February 2009, and BrightSource Energy, which conducts R&D through subsidiary BrightSource Industries Israel, has announced a series of mega projects in the U.S. over the past year

Congrulations to Ory Zik and the rest of the team at HelioFocus!

Related Posts:

DOE awards grant to HelioFocus

IC Green Energy invests in HelioFocus

HelioFocus orders microturbines for concentrated solar power systems

IC Green Energy and Yom Tov Samia