Thursday, December 27, 2007

Advanced Technology Ventures looks for cleantech opportunities in Israel

"Globes" reports that Andrew Friendly, a Boston-based senior associate at US venture capital fund Advanced Technology Ventures (ATV), and a specialist in cleantech investments, was in Israel earlier this month to look at the sector and the opportunities the local market has to offer. Friendly previously spent five years at the White House in a variety of positions including personal aide to President Clinton. During the last three years he worked as a director at Idealab in Pasadena, CA, where he specialized in evaluating energy and cleantech technologies for possible investment and company creation.

ATV, which was founded in 1979, manages $1.4 billion in assets, and invests in software, telecommunications, medical devices, life sciences, and, in the last five years, also cleantech. The fund has not yet made any investments in Israeli companies.

Andrew Friendly was in Israel as a guest at the second annual Cleantech Investment Forum, conducted by law firm Herzog, Fox & Neeman, with the participation this year of Boston law firm Mintz Levin. The forum focused this year on the potential for overseas investment in Israeli cleantech. In her speech at the conference, Dr. Ruth Dagan, head of the Environmental Law practice at Herzog, Fox & Neeman, reviewed current trends in the sector. "Israel is characterized, at least at this point in time, by a wide range of investment platforms in the field - venture capital funds, private investors, and holding companies. As investors accrue more knowledge in the field and global activity in it expands, interest spreads from investments in mature companies already posting sales of their own to research into companies now in the preliminary stages of technological development," she said.

Friendly was also in Israel for a series of business meetings, as he explains: "The reason for the visit is to get to know the Israeli deal flow, the companies which are active, the R&D centers and the service providers. Israel has a worldwide reputation as a leader in research, and a location with an ability to incubate ideas. I want to see what's going on here in the solar energy and water fields. We did look at a number of Israeli water companies once, but we didn't make any investments."

Click here for the rest of Globes' interview with Andrew Friendly.

Ofer Shipping to invest $30 mln in Agassi's electric car venture

Reuters reports that Israel's Ofer Shipping Holdings will invest $30 million in the Project Better Place electric car venture led by entrepreneur Shai Agassi, holding company Israel Corp. said on Thursday.

Ofer Shipping is owned by the Ofer family, which also controls Israel Corp. Israel Corp. earlier acquired a 33 percent stake in the electric car venture after agreeing to invest $100 million.

The total investment in the initial phase of the car venture will be $200 million, giving the Ofer family a majority stake in the venture.

Agassi in March resigned as head of software products at German software maker SAP to pursue interests in environmental policy and alternative energy resources.

Israel Corp. owns stakes in chemicals, energy, shipping and semiconductor firms.

Australian fund considers Negev solar plant bid

Sources inform ''Globes'' that Babcock & Brown Capital Ltd. of Australia is considering participating in the tender to build a $600-700 million solar power station in the Negev. The tender is due to be published in 2008.

Babcock & Brown wants an Israeli energy company as a partner. The Australian investment company is the second international company expressing an interest in the tender; Spain's Abengoa Bioenergy SA has contacted the Ministry of National Infrastructures about it.

The 250-megawatt solar power station will be built at Ashalim in the central Negev under a BOT (build, operate, transfer) contract.

Babcock & Brown's portfolio already comprises thirteen operating power stations representing over 3,300MW of generation and a further 1,700MW under construction. The firm announced in June 2007 that it was opening an office in Israel to be headed by the former privatization chief Eyal Gabbai.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Israel plans 250-MW solar power plant

Israel recently announced plans for the construction of a 250 megawatt solar power plant in the Negev, which is estimated will cost $600-$700 million. When completed, it will be one of the largest solar power plants in the world.

"Globes" reports that the World Bank is considering financing the project.

According to Ha'aretz, the tender for building the plant will not give preference to local firms, meaning that foreign firms can participate in the tender without a local partner. The decision was made, among other things, to avoid the impression that the tender was written for the benefit of the only two Israeli companies who could compete for the power station: Solel and Luz II, a subsidiary of BrightSource Energy.

The cabinet hopes that this change will make the tender more attractive to international firms with experience in the solar energy industry, and that the new conditions will allow the setting of appropriate minimum requirements for professionalism and financial strength for the bidders on the project.

Minister of National Infrastructures Benjamin Ben-Eliezer recently announced that the first stage of the tender will likely be published next month.

The power plant, which will be located near Ashalim in the western Negev and produce 250 megawatts of electricity, will be Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT), similar to Route 6, the Trans-Israel Highway. The winning bidder builds the plant, operates it for the license period, and at the end of the franchise transfers full ownership to the state.

A number of foreign companies have already expressed interest in the project, including Spanish energy giant Abengoa. Abengoa created a U.S. subsidiary earlier this year, Solucar Power, Inc., to respond to utility requests for electricity using concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies.

The real remaining question is which technology will be required for the power station: solar thermal or photovoltaic. The solar thermal method harnesses the sun's energy to heat a material, such as oil or water, from which it is possible to generate electricity, while the photovoltaic system transforms solar energy directly into electricity.

However, it also appears that even if one of the possible two tenders requires a photovoltaic system, the total amount of electricity from such a plant will not be over 50 megawatts, out of the total of 250 megawatts.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

3GSolar and nanotechnology-based solar power

Israel21c reports on the latest news from 3GSolar, a Jerusalem-based developer of low-cost photovoltaic solar energy modules. Orionsolar is a portfolio company of 21 Ventures.

According to the company's CEO, Barry Breen, 3GSolar's use of nanotechnology could make solar power cost-competitive with power produced by traditional oil and coal sources. The company's technology uses nano-sized cells, coated with an organic dye engineered to react when hit by sunlight to produce energy more efficiently, effectively, and cheaply, than current solar systems. The system includes cells consisting of titanium oxide layers coated with the organic dye and connected to a battery.

The key is in the nano-sized chunks of titanium oxide. "At sizes as small as 10 nanometers, the laws of physics take some interesting turns," says Breen. "We have discovered that when light hits titanium oxide particles of this size coated with our dye, a great deal of energy is produced. It's like photosynthesis. Just as a plant produces nourishment for itself when exposed to sunlight, our cells produce energy, converted to electricity."

The energy produced by the reaction is shunted into a charge controller, and then transferred to a battery, where it is stored. 3GSolar's system, he says, is more efficient, since the dye technology can be used even under low lighting situations, guaranteeing a greater power yield as it continues to gather energy even during the early morning or late afternoon hours. And 3GSolar's dye cell system produces power much more cheaply; module production costs are about half that of silicon photovoltaics, while the cost to put up a manufacturing line is a small fraction of those of silicon based photovoltaic systems, he adds.

Breen, who has a degree in nuclear engineering from MIT, began managing 3GSolar half a year ago, guiding the company's dozen employees into perfecting the innovative technology, which was developed in coordination with Bar Ilan University. It's been patented, and according to Breen, it's almost ready for prime time.

3GSolar's systems, which should be commercially available within a year, will be manufactured in Israel. The company plans to initially take on electrification projects in the Third World, providing power to homes and businesses in Africa, Asia and South America.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Evogene and Orfuel receive biodiesel grant

Evogene Ltd. and Orfuel Inc., a US subsidiary of Ormat Industries Ltd., have signed an agreement with the BIRD Foundation (Israel-US Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation) to obtain a $1 million grant for support of a joint biofuel project.

The Evogene and Orfuel joint project is aimed at providing substantially improved feedstock sources for biodiesel production. The companies will collaborate to develop non-edible plants that display improved oil yields and are capable of being grown in non-arable lands, thus addressing key problems facing the industry.

(Sourced here)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Israel Cleantech Ventures invests in Citrine Renewable Energy

There are no details on co-investors or the size of the investment, and Citrine Renewable Energy does not have a web site. The Israel Cleantech Ventures web site, however, contains the following company description:

"Citrine Renewable Energy (CRE) develops systems that cost effectively convert the biogas generated by landfills, waste water treatment plants, and other sources of biological waste into high value natural gas, which can be used to power natural gas vehicles. In addition to dramatically reducing emissions of greenhouse gases from landfills and sewage works, CRE's systems enable vehicles that use the fuel it produces to reduce harmful NOx emissions by 50% and particulate matter emissions by more than 70%. Truck and bus fleets powered by fuel produced by CRE can also benefit from significant fuel cost savings as compared to the cost of operating diesel engines."

New Israeli cleantech fund aims to raise $100m

Sources inform ''Globes'' that former Formula Ventures partner Shai Beilis and former Star Ventures partner Yaffa Krindel are setting up a new $100 million cleantech fund called Tamarix Ventures LP. If successful in raising funds, Tamarix Ventures will become Israel's largest cleantech venture capital fund, joining the recently established Israel Cleantech Ventures and Terra Venture Partners.

In an interview with "Globes", Beilis voiced optimism about the fund, and said the challenges in cleantech were many. "There's now more air pollution, natural resources are dwindling, and technological products can provide solutions that will reduce the risks, while generating profits. Cleantech is enjoying broad support, regulation is conducive to its growth, public opinion is favorable, and large corporations are willing to invest in it."

Globes: How big is this field?

Beilis: "It's big, and it's also seeing tremendous growth. For example, it is estimated that the water market will reach $500 billion in 2010, and $1 trillion by 2020. The energy market is expected to reach $430 billion in 2010, and $1.9 trillion in 2020.

Who invests in this field?

"Venture capital and private equity investment grew from $1.1 billion in 2002 to $18 billion in 2006. In 2006, venture capital investment in cleantech totaled $1.6 billion, 43% of total venture capital investment. Research companies predict that cleantech will need $3.4 billion in investment in 2009."

Renault mulls Israel R&D center

Sources inform ''Globes'' that French carmaker Renault SA (Euronext:RNO) may establish an R&D center in Israel shortly. Company representatives recently met officials from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor to discuss the matter, but both parties declined to comment about it.

It is not known if these talks are related to the establishment of an R&D center affiliated with the electric car venture, Project Better Place, launched by CEO Shai Agassi. "Globes" reported that the cars will be based on the Renault Megane chassis.

Ormat signs 20-year agreement with S. California Edison

Ormat Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: ORA) has announced that its subsidiary has signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with Southern California Edison (SCE). The agreement is for the sale of geothermal energy to be produced by a new plant that will be built in Imperial Valley, California. The plant is expected to come on line by mid 2012 and is expected to have a total output of 30 megawatts. The agreement includes an option to increase capacity to 100 megawatts.

"The agreement for the new Imperial Valley Power Plant is the eighth such agreement between Ormat and SCE, and the second executed since the enactment of California's aggressive renewable portfolio standard legislation," said Ormat Technologies CEO Dita Bronicki. "We are very happy to bring more baseload through clean geothermal energy to California. We are already supplying approximately 160 megawatts of geothermal energy to SCE from the existing power plants that we operate and we have an additional 50 megawatts under construction. This new contract will further increase our share in SCE's impressive portfolio of clean energy generation."

In May, Ormat signed a 20-year agreement with Nevada Power Company, for the sale of energy produced from the Grass Valley Geothermal Power Plant. That contract has recently received the approval the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada.

(Sourced here)

US near approval for clean energy cooperation with Israel

The US Senate has approved cooperation with Israel in clean energy - the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Act - as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The House of Representatives is due to approve the bill later this week, and President George W. Bush is expected to then sign it into law.

The bill will establish a third binational science cooperation body, in addition to the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF) and Israel-United States Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRDF). The Energy Independence Act stipulates that the Secretary of Energy will establish a program for grants to support research, development, and commercialization of technologies for renewable energy and the efficient production and use of energy.

Israeli sources in Washington predict $20 million in allocations a year over the next five years for joint US-Israeli energy projects. The US Department of Energy and Israel's Ministry of National Infrastructures will formulate an agreement and settle related issues.

The Energy Independence Act includes financing grants for the production of energy from biofuel, biomass, wind, ocean waves, and geothermal sources. Projects will include joint basic research between US and Israeli academic institutions and applied research projects between companies from both countries.

(Sourced here)

Related Posts:

DOE awards grants to HelioFocus, Tigo Energy, TransBiodiesel and Motorola Israel for U.S.-Israel energy projects

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

Friday, December 14, 2007

Oasis Investment Fund -- new VC investing in the Negev

Gideon Soesman, Ronen Gadot and Lior Berger are the co-founders of the Oasis Investment Fund, a new venture capital firm with a social mission to develop the Negev and increase prosperity in the southern region of Israel.

Oasis intends to invest in 10-15 early-stage companies in the areas of solar energy, water technologies, smart desert agriculture, tourism, small real estate projects, and traditional industries. The firm is currently soliciting investors for a $30 million fund. The Canadian Jewish News recently detailed Oasis' successful fund-raising efforts in Toronto.

Gideon Soesman, the firm's managing director, previously served as a senior director for global M&A activities at Philips Electronics. Lior Berger, a director, was formerly a general partner at Gemini Israel Funds. Ronen Gadot, Oasis' other director -- a native of Arad and former F-16 fighter pilot -- was a director of business development at Philips Electronics and was recently executive vice president of SHL Telemedicine.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hebrew University to invest in cleantech projects

Sources inform ''Globes'' that Yissum, the technology transfer company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, will allocate all proceeds from the exit of any portfolio company to cleantech ventures. Yissum is responsible for marketing the inventions and know-how generated by the University's renowned researchers and students.

Yissum does not disclose its budget, but reportedly had $40 million revenue in 2006, including $30 million in royalties and $10 million from research agreements, which accrues to Hebrew University. The university then allocated 10-15% of this revenue back to Yissum. Allocations to cleantech projects will amount to several million shekels, constituting a hefty proportion of the company's total budget.

The sources added that a number of entities, including investment institutions and an agency of a foreign government, are interested in investing in Yissum cleantech projects. However, it is still unclear how the parties will share the investment.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

SolarEdge raises $11.8 million

VentureWire and Greentech Media report that SolarEdge Technologies raised $11.8 million in its first round of venture-capital funding. Still in stealth mode, SolarEdge is developing power-conversion technologies that combine hardware and software to improve solar-system efficiencies.

Based in Herzliya, SolarEdge was founded in 2006 by Lior Handelsman and Amir Fishelov. Handelsman and Fishelov apparently founded SolarEdge after leaving the IDF, where both served in management positions. The company's CEO is Guy Sella, who was most recently a partner at Star Ventures and commanded the Technology Unit of the IDF's Department of Military Intelligence in 2001-2002.

SolarEdge is backed by Genesis Partners, which classifies it as a "semiconductors" company that provides "energy harvesting solutions for solar photovoltaic systems." Other investors in this round were Walden International and Opus Capital, a new venture capital fund based in Silicon Valley with a focus on Israel-related companies.

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

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

Interview with Meir Ukeles of Israel Cleantech Ventures

Meir Ukeles, a general partner at Israel Cleantech Ventures (ICV), is interviewed in the latest edition of the Israel Opportunity Investor newsletter. (Transcript)

Ukeles discusses ICV's formation and investor team, its limited partners, the growth model for its investments, exit options, Israel's cleantech cluster and regulatory environment, and Project Better Place, an electric car start-up and ICV portfolio company.

Established in 2006, Israel Cleantech Ventures invests in companies in Israel's energy, water and environmental sectors. It recently announced the creation of 'CleanStart', a joint venture with Greylock Partners' Israel Fund to provide seed stage capital and support to cleantech ideas/projects.

Israel21c coverage of cleantech

Israel21c has recently published a number of articles related to the cleantech sector in Israel:

  • 'Energy Towers' offer major source of alternative energy. Professor Dan Zaslavsky of the Department of Agricultural Engineering at the Technion - Israel Institute of Science, explains his project to build "energy towers" to produce cheap electricity. The massive towers, 1000 meters tall and 400 meters in diameter, would use convection to power turbines at the base of each tower.
  • Israeli collaboration with Exxon fuels hopes for a greener future. A team of scientists from Ben Gurion University of the Negev, international petrochemical giant ExxonMobile, Canadian gas purification company QuestAir Technologies, and US energy products company Plug Power have developed a new hydrogen fuel cell technology.
  • Intel develops the eco-chip, with Israeli help. Intel recently unveiled the latest addition to its processor family: a new chipset provisionally named 'Penryn.' The innovative hafnium-based "Hi-k" processor, which reduces electricity loss, or "capacitance," through the use of third-generation silicon materials, also does away with the need to incorporate eco-unfriendly lead and halogen materials in the production process. Intel's R&D center in Haifa played a crucial role in working out how the new chip micro-architecture could be manufactured on a commercial scale.
  • Sharon's legacy turns wasteland to parkland. Israel's largest landfill, the Hiriya garbage dump, is being transformed into 2000 acre recreational area. Nearby, a waste transit station is a becoming a model of environmental innovation. The project may take up to 20 years and cost $250 million.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Canadian cleantech foundation considers investing in Israel

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) president and CEO Vicky J. Sharpe will visit Israel next week to meet with cleantech venture capital funds and their portfolio companies, according to Globes. The Canadian government cleantech foundation is considering investments in Israeli companies.

SDTC is a non-profit organization founded in 2001. It supports companies and funds that develop technologies for solving problems related to climate change and air, ground and water quality. It also supports companies whose products provide Canadians with economic, environmental, and health benefits. SDTC has two funds: the $550 million SD Tech Fund and the $500 million NextGen Biofuels Fund.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Agassi, Ofer meet IEC execs on electric car bid

Globes reports that Shai Agassi and Idan Ofer, the heads of electric car venture Project Better Place, met a group of Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) executives a few days ago to review the technical feasibility and costs of establishing a network of electric recharging stations for the cars.

Agassi and Ofer asked IEC for a proposal for the supply of electricity to the stations at a reduced group tariff. The price of electricity is a critical factor for calculating the costs and profitability projections for Project Better Place.

The parties discussed a range of technical issues relating to the deployment of the recharging stations, but no conclusions were made. Among other things, Agassi and Ofer asked for a study of locating recharging points at people's homes, where their cars could be recharged overnight. The parties also discussed when during the day car recharging should be carried out.

IEC said that if most recharging is made during the night, where there is surplus production capacity, the electricity rates would be lower. However, overnight recharging will require Project Better Place to reduce the number of vehicle rechargings in real time and speed up development of a battery replacement mechanism.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Exxon Mobil partners with Ben Gurion U. to develop hydrogen fuel system

ExxonMobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), QuestAir Technologies Inc., Plug Power Inc. (Nasdaq:PLUG) and Ben Gurion University of the Negev are collaborating to commercialize an on-vehicle hydrogen production system for use in a fuel cell-powered lift truck application.

According to and Globes, Plug Power will seek to commercialize unique technologies developed by ExxonMobil, QuestAir Technologies, and Ben Gurion University that take liquid fuels - gasoline, diesel, ethanol or biodiesel - and convert them into hydrogen onboard the vehicle where it will be used in a fuel cell power train.

"By developing a system that converts liquid hydrocarbons into hydrogen directly on a vehicle without the need for storage, we hope to demonstrate significant infrastructure, logistics and cost advantages compared to other hydrogen vehicle systems, all while reducing the impact on the environment," said Emil Jacobs, VP of research and development at Exxon Mobil Research and Engineering.

BG Negev Technologies and Applications Ltd., Ben Gurion University's technology transfer company is responsible for the university's share in the program. The university is represented by the Blechner Center and Prof. Moti Hershkowitz. The university and its partners have been developing the individual components that make up the on-vehicle hydrogen fuel system. Sulfur is controlled by an ExxonMobil proprietary S-Trap developed in conjunction with the university. Plug Power will be responsible for integrating the fuel system with its GenDrive fuel cell power system for lift truck applications.

Globes notes that a competitor to this project is Israeli start-up Enginuity Ltd., which is developing technology to produce hydrogen on-board the vehicle as needed, utilizing a modified internal combustion engine with a zero emission solution. Investors in Enginuity include the Ormat Group and the ATI - Ashkelon Technological Industries incubator.

Desalination company IDE set for IPO

Delek Group Ltd. (TASE: DLEKG) and Israel Chemicals Ltd. (TASE: CHIM) announced that they plan to float at least 25% of their joint venture IDE Technologies Ltd. on the London Stock Exchange. Sources tell Globes that IDE plans to raise up to $200 million at a company value of $500 million, before money.

IDE was founded in 1965. The company develops both thermal and seawater reverse osmosis desalination - the two prevailing technologies for seawater desalination, and is active in 40 countries, including China, India, Israel, Australia, Latin America, and the US. It has designed and built more than 370 facilities to date.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Renault mulls Israeli electric car plant

BusinessWeek is reporting that French carmaker Renault SA is studying a possible plan to build a manufacturing plant for electric cars in Israel.

Renault is exploring a potential partnership with Israeli entrepreneur and high-tech star Shai Agassi, company spokeswoman Rochelle Chimenes said on Wednesday.

Agassi and his partner Idan Ofer have founded an eco-minded joint venture called Project Better Place, aimed at helping reduce greenhouse emissions by building a network of charging stations for electric cars across Israel.

Israeli-born Agassi, a former executive of software maker SAP AG, said October 29 he had raised $200m. in initial funding from Morgan Stanley, Israel Corp., VantagePoint Venture Partners and private investors including Edgar Bronfman Sr. and James Wolfensohn, former head of the World Bank.

If Renault decides to get involved, an agreement could be signed in the first half of 2008, Chimenes said.

Last week, Globes reported that the car at the heart of the project will be based on the Renault Megane, which will be equipped with high-performance electric engine based on advanced fuel cells.

Israeli water tech co Blue I bound for Olympics

Globes is reporting that Israeli cleantech start-up Blue I Technologies Ltd. will supply real-time water quality control systems for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The company has an office in China and is participating in a Veolia Water projects with Shenzhen Water Group Company Ltd. and the City of Shanghai.

According to Globes, Blue I has also installed its water analyzers in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for the South American Water Championships; the Olympic swimming pools in Tokyo; Eurodisney in Paris; a hotel project at Sun City, South Africa; and in Israel, including the water parks Yamit 2000 in Holon and Hamei Gaash.

Established in 2002, Blue I's investors include Tene Capital and Docor International.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Solar energy start-up XJet raises $9m

According to Globes, Israeli start-up XJet Ltd. has raised $9 million in its first financing round from Gemini Israel Funds, Swiss investment fund Good Energies, Taiwanese semiconductor equipment manufacturer Spirox and private investors.

XJet is currently operating stealth mode. According to a press release, the company's vision is to redefine solar cells cost efficiency through the introduction of innovative, next generation deposition technologies. Helping an oil free world future, the solar energy industry has to dramatically grow its capacity and accelerate its cost reduction. XJet is among the first companies in the world to focus on the solar fab and provide the solar cell manufacturers with dedicated highly efficient tools.

This is the second cleantech investment by Gemini Israel Funds. In August, the firm invested in efficient lighting company Metrolight.

Ofir Baharav, XJet's CEO, said, “For years Hanan Gothait, President and CTO, and I have been aspiring to combine our skills and create a meaningful company. Accelerating the adoption of solar-generated, environmentally friendly energy sources is a most worthy cause. We feel fortunate to receive the backing of such a prestigious investment consortium; this is a critical step towards realizing our mission”

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Technion forum: Israel can be global biodiesel leader

Israel can become a global leader in the development of crops for biodiesel production, concludes the 7th Energy Forum sponsored by the Samuel Neaman Institute for Advanced Studies in Science and Technology at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology. The forum aims to position Israeli renewable energy research and industry on the world map. (Read the full article here.)

Energy giant Petrobras seeks Israeli cleantech

Sources inform ''Globes'' that Brazilian energy giant Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) is examining Israeli cleantech for possible investment and is mulling establishing an R&D center in Israel.

Busy week for water technologies

More than 2000 visitors and 100 delegations from 80 countries worldwide attended the WATEC conference last week in Tel Aviv to survey the latest developments in water and environmental technologies.

Israel is a global leader in the water sector, and a number of new deals and agreements were announced at the conference. Below is a summary.

  • Government launches new water R&D program. The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor today launched Israel NEWTech - Novel Efficient Water Technologies, the government program to promote Israeli water technologies. The program aims to double water technology exports to $2 billion by 2010.

  • Mekorot nearing strategic cooperation with GE. Water industry sources inform ''Globes'' that Mekorot National Water Company is in advanced negotiations for a strategic cooperation agreement with General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) for the construction of the $450 million 100-million cubic meter desalination plant at Ashdod.

  • Israel-China 'water-trade' to rise significantly. Israel expects "to significantly increase" its water technology exports to China over the next few years following a successful round of meetings between National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Chinese water-technology leaders attending WATEC Israel 2007.

  • Israel and Mexico in water treatment deal. The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, and Mexican National Water Commissioner Jose Luis Luege Tamargo have signed a water cooperation agreement between Israel and Mexico, NEWTech - Novel Efficient Water Technologies director Oded Distel told “Globes”.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Terra VP raises $15 million, makes first investments

Terra Venture Partners, a venture capital fund focused on seed and early-stage cleantech companies in Israel, has reportedly raised $15 million and made its first two investments.

The fund completed a seed-stage investment in IQWind Ltd., a company that is developing an innovative gearbox that will improve the efficiency of wind turbines. Terra has also invested in Phoebus Energy Ltd., which is developing a system to decrease water heating expenses for large facilities, such as hospitals, hotels, pools, etc. Both IQWind and Phoebus were founded in August, 2007.

Terra Venture Partners was founded in May 2006 by Harold Wiener, an immigrant from Uruguay, and Astorre Modena, an immigrant from Italy. They hope to ultimately raise $50 million and invest in up to 20 companies.

Greylock, Israel Cleantech establish joint venture

Greylock Partners and Israel Cleantech Ventures are reportedly establishing a platform to invest in the cleantech industry. The new venture, called CleanStart, will focus on investment in early-stage start-ups and ideas developed within Israeli academia, covering a range of sectors including clean energy, water technologies, and energy effiency.

In 2006, Greylock Partners, a leading U.S.-based venture capital fund, launched Greylock Israel, a separate $150M fund dedicated to investing in early-stage Israeli technology companies.

Israel Cleantech Ventures focuses exclusively on investments in Israel-related companies developing technologies in renewable and alternative energy, water resource and waste water treatment, “smart-grid” and process efficiency technologies, pollution monitoring and mitigation and “green” agriculture. It is raising a $60 million fund and has already invested in lighting solutions company Metrolight Ltd. According to "Globes", the fund is due to make three further investments in the coming weeks.

WATEC, CheckLight, WaterSheer

As the Israeli cleantech industry prepares for WATEC Israel 2007 -- the International Water Technologies and Environmental Control Exhibition and Conference -- "Globes" is reporting on two new devlopments in the water sector.

Whitewater Security, a subsidiary of the Whitewater Technology Group, is in advanced negotiations to invest $2.5 million in water security start-up CheckLight Ltd. Checklight, founded Shimon Ulitzur, a professor of microbiology at the Technion, has developed technology that uses light-emitting bacteria to identify pollutants in water in real time. Whitewater chairman Ori Yogev wants his company to be the global leader in water security in the next 3-5 years. (Full article)

WaterSheer Ltd., another water technology start-up, is reportedly in talks to bring in a strategic partner at a company value of $10-15 million. The company, which creates a range of water purification products that convert unsafe water into drinking water. Potential partners include an international company with global marketing operations primarily in third world countries, and international venture capital funds that specialize in consumer products.

For more information on WaterSheer and its products, see "Israeli system turns contaminated water into drinking water - instantly."

Friday, October 26, 2007

Israeli VCs: cleantech expectations remain high

The Israel VC Indicator survey released this week says that, for the third quarter in a row, cleantech remains the favored sector for increased investment in Israel.

According to the survey (see PDF), published by Deloitte Brightman Almagor, expectations of increased cleantech transactions are high, but actual deals remain scarce. VCs point to a lack of cleantech investment knowledge and a lack of talented cleantech entrepreneurs as the top impediments to cleantech success in Israel.

Power Electronics featured in Ha'aretz

Power Electronics Systems (PES), a leading provider of energy-efficiency solutions, is profiled this week in Ha'aretz. (See here.)

PES has developed a range of products that improve energy-efficiency for lighting, HVAC and electric motor applications. For example, its Lighting Energy Controller (LEC) systems reduce energy consumption from lightbulbs by 20-30% and have been adopted by customers such as IBM, Tesco, and municipal governments throughout Israel.

Founder and Chairman Shimon Limor estimates that if Israel were to adopt his company's technology on a national level, it "could save NIS 2.8 billion in superfluous spending on electricity and reduce air pollution by 2.6 million tons of coal."

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Australian water delegation visits Israel

Three Australian state ministers and various business leaders will visit Israel next week to explore water and conservation business opportunities. The group will meet with Israeli political, business and technology leaders and attend the WATEC Israel 2007 conference on water and environmental technologies.

Australia is undergoing a severe drought and has implemented water restrictions. According to the delegation’s leader, Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce Chairman Leon Kempler, “Australia and Israel share the unfortunate fate of having significant challenges to their water supplies. Israel has many companies that provide outstanding technology and solutions to water scarcity problems and this business delegation, the most senior ever to visit Israel, is keen to listen, learn and reach agreements.”

According to a lengthy article in the New York Times Magazine, experts predict that the American West will also face severe water shortages in the coming decades. Perhaps Israeli companies, which are leaders in the global water industry, will be able to provide solutions to this problem as well.

UK group seeks Israeli cleantech investments

Globes reports that Vincent Tchenguiz, chairman of British trust fund manager Consensus Business Group, is seeking cleantech investment opportunities in Israel.

Consensus has a $500 million technology investment portfolio that targets renewable energy companies. Tchenguiz has reportedly said that he wants to become "the world's first cleantech billionaire."

Globes also reports that during a visit to Israel last week, Tchenguiz met Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, President Shimon Peres, and cleantech entrepreneurs.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Overview of cleantech venture market in Israel

Meir Ukeles of Israel Cleantech Ventures recently provided an update on the cleantech sector in Israel, published on the "Cleantech Investing" blog.

Ukeles notes a growing trend of Israeli "serial entrepreneurs" who are launching their newest companies in the cleantech sector. He points out that Israel has been especially successful in producing companies that specialize in "a broad spectrum of water efficiency, quality and treatment technologies, power electronics and energy storage, as well as some aspects of solar energy."

He concludes, however, that "the simple truth is that Israel’s most important resource is its entrepreneurs – a seemingly inexhaustible supply of talented business people and technologists who excel at looking beyond traditional ways of solving market problems and inefficiencies. That, coupled with the truly colossal demand for technologies to address the world’s insatiable need for clean, accessible energy, water and air, is what is already putting Israel on the map as a global cleantech player."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ormat Technologies to raise funds in secondary offering

Ormat Technologies (NYSE: ORA), a leading geothermal power company, has filed a prospectus with the SEC to raise $130-$140 million in a public offering of three million shares.

Listed on the NYSE and headquartered in Nevada, Ormat Technologies is a subsidiary of Ormat Industries (TASE: ORMT), which in recent weeks has been rumored to be an acquisition target of Goldman Sachs, Africa-Israel, and Apax Partners.

Ormat Technologies will use proceeds from the sale to fund possible acquisitions and the construction of additional geothermal and Recovered Energy Generation (REG) power plants.

Monday, October 22, 2007

AqWise founders start new cleantech venture

The entrepreneurial team behind AqWise Water Technologies Ltd., which was selected by Clean Edge as one of the ten most promising companies in water filtration, is setting up a new venture which will focus on the production of electricity and fuel from heavy duty industrial waste.

Eytan Levy and Ronen Shechter, the founders of this new venture, called EMEFCY Bioenergy Systems, explain their technology in an interview published in Globes. Levy is currently a venture partner at Israel Cleantech Ventures.

Reflective Mirrors Seen Raising Solar Potential

A team of researchers at Israel's Ben Gurion University may have discovered a way to make solar energy more competitive using a combination of reflective dishes and an alternative to silicon, according to reports in Reuters and Ha'aretz.

David Faiman, a physics professor and expert on solar energy, has designed a reflector made of mirrors that collects and intensifies sunlight a thousand times over. Faiman says he is collaborating with an Israeli start-up company, ZenithSolar, to create a home solar energy system that uses a 10 square metre (107.6 sq ft) reflector dish.

Faiman would not discuss details of the ZenithSolar deal but said a prototype already existed and could be ready by the end of 2008. ZenithSolar would not comment on the project.

Little information is available online about ZenithSolar. Their founder and CEO, Roy Segev, apparently has a background in venture capital and high-tech.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

EER Raises Cash

Environmental Energy Resources, Ltd. (EER), an environmentally-friendly waste management company, raised $3.5 million in a private placement that values the company at $130 million.

EER is developing a plasma-based thermal technology for treatment of municipal solid waste, low-level radioactive waste, and biomedical waste. The only end-products of the process are gas that can be used in power plants and an inert slag that can be used in the construction industry. It recently constructed a technology demonstration facility near Haifa.

Based in Ramat Gan, EER is controlled by Urdan Industries Ltd. and Shrem, Fudim, Kelder & Co. Ltd. (SFK)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Jennifer Fonstad -- DFJ Tamir Fishman Ventures

Jennifer Fonstad, a managing director at Draper Fischer Jurvetson and DFJ's representative to the joint investment committee recently established with Tamir Fishman Ventures, discusses cleantech in a lengthy interview with Globes.

Fonstad, recently featured in an article on biofuels that appeared in the Venture Capital Journal, is enthusiastic about cleantech investment opportunities in Israel. She reports that DFJ portfolio company BrightSource Energy acquired Luz II, a Jerusalem-based developer of utility-scale solar power plants. GreenFuel Technologies, another DJF portfolio company, is working in Israel to develop a biofuel system. Fonstad singled out clean water technologies as an example of a sector where Israel is a global leader.

Kinrot Incubator

Kinrot, an incubator focused on water technologies, has named Assaf Barnea as its new CEO according to a Globes report. Barnea recently served as VP of Business Development at the Mekorot National Water Company and oversaw the establishment of Mekorot's own incubator -- the WaTech Entrepreneurship and Partnership Center for Water Technologies.

Founded in 1993 as part of the Israeli technological incubators program, Kinrot was privatized last year. Based in the Jordan Valley, it has several portfolio companies that operate in the water sector.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Air pollution reducer Lextran Ltd. recently raised $1.2 million in additional funds. A subsidiary of Ludan Engineer Co. Ltd. and based in Katzrin, Lextran is developing a low-operational cost installation for reducing emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide by power stations. According to Globes, a unit was installed at a 25-megawatt power station in Ishi, Romania, earlier this month.

Ludan Engineering (TASE: LUDN) has an Environmental Group focused on providing solutions to wastewater and air pollution problems.

DFJ Tamir Fishman Ventures

Draper Fisher Jurvetson ("DJF"), a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm, has joined forces with Israeli VC Tamir Fishman Ventures. "DFJ Tamir Fishman Ventures" will serve as DFJ's exclusive partner in Israel. (Here's their statement.)

Tamir Fishman has focused on early-stage communications, IT and life sciences companies. DFJ, however, has a large portfolio of almost twenty clean technology companies in the U.S. It will be interesting to see whether the new partnership will now invest in Israeli clean technology companies.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Evergreen Venture Partners, based in Tel Aviv, has completed the raising of $200 for its fifth fund. As reported in Globes, managing partner Erez Shachar commented that the firm is constantly examining new fields. "We're studying cleantech, and we're taking it seriously."