Archive for November, 2010

No. 18 South Carolina powers past Clemson, 29-7
Stephen Garcia threw for two touchdowns, Alshon Jeffery had his seventh 100-yard receiving game this year and South Carolina headed into the Southeastern Conference title game with a rousing 29-7 victory over rival Clemson on Saturday night.
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SCI Engineered Materials, Inc. Approved for $2.1 Million of Loans to Fund Growth in Solar Market


COLUMBUS, OH–(Marketwire – November 29, 2010) – SCI Engineered Materials, Inc. (“SCI”) (OTCBB: SCIA) develops and commercializes technologies and manufactures ceramics and metals for advanced applications in the physical vapor deposition industry. The company announced today it has received final approval for two seven-year loans from agencies of the State of Ohio totalling approximately $2.1 million to further SCI’s growth in the solar market.

The two loans are linked and include a $0.7 million 166 Direct Loan from the Ohio Department of Development (“ODOD”) and a $1.4 million Ohio Air Quality Development Authority (“OAQDA”) 166 Direct Loan as part of the Advanced Energy Job Stimulus. Each of the Company’s loan applications was independently reviewed as part of the approval process. The interest rate for each loan is 3%.

SCI will also contribute approximately $0.9 million in equity during the 20-month project to achieve its $3.0 million of forecasted capital requirements for the manufacturing expansion of transparent conductive oxide products. For the nine months ended September 30, 2010, the company generated positive cash flow of approximately $0.5 million and had approximately $1.5 million in cash on that same date.

These funds will be used to acquire additional manufacturing equipment to scale SCI’s operations to meet anticipated sales growth to solar customers. As a result, the Company expects to expand its manufacturing facilities and nearly triple its current workforce of 26 employees over the next three years.

Dan Rooney, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, “We want to thank the ODOD and OAQDA for their support concerning the approval of these loans, which included an extensive due diligence process. The loans represent an integral part of our capital plan for 2011-2012 and provide us with increased financial flexibility to meet anticipated demand for our innovative transparent conductive oxide products. We are actively involved in product trials with several solar customers and look forward to accelerating implementation of our growth strategy as we invest these funds in our business and convert additional product trials into orders.”

SCI Engineered Materials, Inc. manufactures ceramics and metals for advanced applications such as photonics, thin film solar, thin film batteries, and semiconductors. SCI Engineered Materials is a global materials supplier with clients in more than 40 countries. Additional information is available at http://www.sciengineeredmaterials.com.


Visit the original post at: Solar Power News

SunPower to Speak at Key Investor Events in December 2010


SAN JOSE, Calif., Nov. 29, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — SunPower Corp. (Nasdaq: SPWRA, SPWRB), a Silicon Valley-based manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels and solar systems, today announced speakers at three key investor events in December.

On December 1, Bob Okunski, senior director of investor relations, will deliver a presentation at the Robert W. Baird 2010 Clean Technology Conference at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco.  His talk will begin at noon PST.

SunPower CFO, Dennis Arriola, will speak on Wednesday, December 8 at 8:45 a.m. EST at the Macquarie Alternative Energy Conference 2010.  The event is being held at the Sofitel Hotel in New York City.

Tom Werner, SunPower CEO, will speak at the Barclay’s Capital Global Technology Conference on December 9 at 10:30 a.m. PST at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.

All three events will be broadcast live at http://investors.sunpowercorp.com/events.cfm and will be archived on the SunPower website.


Visit the original post at: Solar Power News

SCHOTT Solar PV, Inc. and BPVS Bring Solar to New YWCA


SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Nov. 29, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — SCHOTT Solar PV, Inc. (“SCHOTT Solar”) and Berkshire Photovoltaic Services (BPVS) announced today the completion of a 28.6 kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system for the YWCA of Western Massachusetts Campus of Hope housing complex in Springfield.

The YWCA of Western Massachusetts created the Phase II Supportive Housing Complex to offer secure homes, daycare and educational resources for abused women and their families. In addition to making the facility safe and comfortable for its residents, the YWCA also committed to using solar power as an energy source.

“SCHOTT Solar is privileged to help bring solar to the Campus of Hope,” said Tom Hecht, President and chief sales officer of SCHOTT Solar PV, Inc. “By working with organizations like the YWCA and our partner BPVS, our commitment to a strong U.S. solar industry expands beyond creating American jobs to creating a meaningful impact for facilities that help improve lives.”

BPVS designed and installed the PV system on the nearly completed Campus of Hope housing complex. It features 130 SCHOTT POLY® 220 modules that will annually save the facility more than $5,000 in electricity costs and defer more than 19 tons of carbon emissions.

“BPVS is proud to provide our community with a clean energy system that will help the YWCA ease concerns over electric bills while offering safe housing to women and families in need,” said Chris Kilfoyle, president of BPVS of Adams, Mass.

“Having a green facility with solar panels helps send the message of optimism for a clean energy future to our residents and visitors to our campus,” said Mary Reardon Johnson, executive director of the YWCA of Western Massachusetts.

The PV system and installation were funded through a grant by the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust’s Green Affordable Housing Development Program and the Commonwealth Solar Rebate Program.


Visit the original post at: Solar Power News

How cleantech VCs are reacting to the broken venture model

In many of my recent conversations with colleagues, there’s a recurring theme: As a group, these investors are increasingly convinced that the traditional venture capital investment model as applied to cleantech hasn’t been working.

In part, this is because there’s increasing conviction among VCs and LPs across sectors that the venture capital model overall is broken and needs re-invention. And in part, this is because the exit window has been so tough to hit for so many venture-backed startups across all sectors, over the past decade. So it’s not just a cleantech thing.

But even so, with some exceptions the overall body of cleantech VCs I speak with do recognize that there are differences in energy, water and materials markets that mean the mid-2000s Silicon Valley approach to cleantech venture capital doesn’t work. To recap some of these which we’ve previously discussed on this site:

1. The investment models have been too focused on and accepting of capital intensity, without already knowing where the capacity-buildout / project finance capital would come from.

2. There’s been too many investments done at valuations that reflect unrealistic growth expectations, unrealistic visions of the endgame being some “winner take all” scenario, and unrealistic hopes for huge IPOs instead of the more likely M&A exit.

3. Too much of a focus on proprietary IP, when so much of that IP is just defending one particular way of producing a commodity.

4. Too much of a focus on the technology, and not enough on the management team’s ability to out-execute other teams.

5. Too much focus on just a handful of subsectors (solar, biofuels, transportation, building energy efficiency), when cleantech is really more an overarching investment thesis about looming natural resource scarcity, and thus more broadly applicable to a wider variety of subsectors.

6. Too much capital put in too early in the lifecycle of the company. Putting in a ton of capital after the science risk is removed, under the expectation that now it’s off to the races… but then finding that the path of successful productization, scale manufacturing, and commercialization will take longer than expected, which can be deadly when the company has been put into a high cashburn situation.

For all of these reasons, VCs who have invested into the cleantech sector are now talking to me and to each other about hard lessons learned from the past 5 years of investing.

What’s interesting right now, however, is to see how differently many of these investors are reacting to these lessons. If you think about it, there are really four basic ways to react to the realization that the traditional venture model as applied to cleantech isn’t working.

- You can continue to beat your head against the wall anyway. And there are certainly numerous investors out there doing just that. They may talk about doing things differently, but at the end of the day their investments in 2011 will look much like their investments in 2007.

- You can narrow down your view of cleantech so that you’re only investing in the sectors that look very much like other sectors you’re more used to. For example, narrowing down to only investing in internet and electronics-based sectors within cleantech. And there are many investors, predominantly among the generalist VCs who had dabbled in cleantech, who are doing exactly this. They don’t want to say they’re abandoning cleantech, but they do say they’re really focusing on familiar-looking areas. Which helps partially explain the current high level of interest in “energy efficiency” as a category, because so much of that is IT-based. This makes a lot of sense, but is kind of where most of the herd is headed right now, and also it’s a bit unclear still how a “Netscape Moment” can emerge out of these investment categories.

- You can run screaming for the hills and abandon the category altogether. And this is definitely happening across the generalist venture landscape as well. Rarely is it being done overtly, but in many cases it’s been a quiet retreat as cleantech teams get purged from big-named generalist venture firms. And it’s happening to a lesser extent among LPs, although it’s tough to tell how much of this is just due to a general pullback of LPs from venture capital altogether. But the net result is the same — fewer specialist firms able to raise their next fund, and fewer cleantech specialists within generalist funds, so fewer cleantech venture investors overall.

- Or you can try to invent new approaches to venture-stage investing that would better apply to various categories and stages of cleantech investments. This is where family offices and angels have the advantage of flexibility over institutional VCs and corporate VCs who have specific mandates and pre-approved investment strategies. But even among these latter categories I’m hearing some interesting thinking from some of my cleantech investor colleagues out there.

All of the last three reactions have their merits, and I’m sure the first reaction has its defenders as well. Nevertheless, I think there is a continuing shakeout happening among cleantech venture investors that will continue for some time forward. And I think there will be a community of investors who redefine how they engage with cleantech so that it’s really more about the core, familiar technology than about the market opportunity.

But I’m also excited to see what this fourth category, the re-inventors, will be coming up with and introducing over the next couple of years. I’ve seen a few new ideas brought to my attention, but not one that I would say has obviously got it figured out yet, including my own nascent ideas for new approaches. But I continue to be impressed with the level of thinking I see being applied to this challenge, and think we’ll see some intriguingly different approaches being tried over the next year or so. Some won’t fly at all. But some will. And we’ll look back on this 2009-2011 period as having been very formative for the next wave of cleantech “venture capital”.


Visit the original post at: Energy News

Indian School Kids Testing Solar-Powered Computer Tablet

Indian schoolchildren testing out the I-slate

About 100 million Indian children do not have electricity in their schools. Of course, this means they are without computers, too. However, this may soon be changing.

“Students in rural Indian villages are now in the process of testing the I-Slate, a solar-powered tablet PC developed by Rice University and Singapore’s Nanyang Tech University,” CalFinder Solar reports.

The I-slate is the brainchild of Rice University’s Krishna Palem and is reportedly “the first of a series of electronic notepads being built around a new class of low-energy-consumption microchips that use a fraction of the electricity of today’s computer chips.” Along with Rice University, this technology and project is being worked on by researchers at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Indian non-profit Villages for Development and Learning Foundation (ViDAL), and Switzerland’s Center for Electronics and Microtechnology.

The I-slate is expected to be able to run on the solar power of panels similar to those in hand-held calculators due to these new microchips.

Testing Out the I-Slate in Indian Schools

So far, Indian schoolchildren (mostly age 10-13) in a school near Hyderabad have tried out early prototypes of this technology.

Most of these children never saw a computer or video game before, but they were apparently very curious and eager to learn about and use the technology.

“Children in Indian village schools are just like their peers anywhere in the world: eager to learn, tech savvy, and willing to try new pedagogical tools that engage their creative minds,” says Rajeswari Pingali, ViDAL president.

“They immediately picked up on the technology,” says Rice undergraduate Lauren Pemberton. “They clearly didn’t like some of the things we expected to work really well, like the button placement, but they loved the scratch-pad application which was added at the last minute.”

Such a technology would, of course, do wonders to improve India’s economic advancement.

“President Obama’s visit to India this week highlights Indian economic achievements, but India’s full economic potential will only be realized with sustainable, low-cost technologies that benefit all segments of the population,” says Palem.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) apparently has faith in the technology. In 2009, it was one of seven technologies the IEEE believed would “have world-changing implications on the way humans interact with machines, the world and each other” in the years to come.

Looks like a fun project and one that could do much for India and other low-income countries.

Connect with me on FacebookStumbleUponTwitter, or Care2.

Photo Credit: TG Daily


Visit the original post at: Energy News

Toyota Undergoing Hybrid Coolant System Repairs on 650,000 Priuses Worldwide
After the floor mats that have been trapping accelerators, or the faulty gas pedals, defective braking systems and stalling engines, now the automaker has to perform repairs to the pumps that cool the hybrid system.


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SMA America’s Sunny Central Compact Power Line Now Available
SMA America is now securing orders for its Sunny Central Compact Power (CP) line of solar inverters. This outdoor-rated line includes the Sunny Central 500CP, 630CP, 720CP, 760CP and 800CP, which won the Intersolar Award 2010 in the photovoltaics category. These inverters join the Sunny Central High Efficiency (HE) line in SMA’s North American utility-scale lineup.
Visit the original post at: Renewable Energy News – RenewableEnergyWorld.com

Broin to address state of the ethanol industry
In the last decade, ethanol burst onto the energy scene and now plays an important role in America’s economy, environment and national security. The industry is at a crucial juncture, and smart policy decisions today can secure the country’s renewable energy future.
Visit the original post at: Renewable Energy News – RenewableEnergyWorld.com

Broin to address state of the ethanol industry
In the last decade, ethanol burst onto the energy scene and now plays an important role in America’s economy, environment and national security. The industry is at a crucial juncture, and smart policy decisions today can secure the country’s renewable energy future.
Visit the original post at: Renewable Energy News – RenewableEnergyWorld.com

ET Solar Announces a 50MW Module Supply Agreement with PM Service

Visit the original post at: Renewable Energy News – RenewableEnergyWorld.com

Japan, Facing Similar Challenges, Embraces Geothermal
Although both California and Japan have long used geothermal energy on a small scale, its appeal to policy makers and investors is growing.
Visit the original post at: Renewable Energy News – RenewableEnergyWorld.com

Ask Pablo: What Is More Sustainable: Eyeglasses Or Contact Lenses?
Glasses-and-contacts.jpg
Image Source: Marcus Woelfle

Dear Pablo: Which is more sustainable, eyeglasses or contact lenses?

Contact lenses are disposable, a word that is not usually synonymous with sustainability. But eyeglasses are made out of metal and other materials that also have a certain environmental footprint. Which is the more sustainable choice?… Read the full story on TreeHugger
Visit the original post at: TreeHugger

Ask Pablo: What Is More Sustainable: Eyeglasses Or Contact Lenses?
Glasses-and-contacts.jpg
Image Source: Marcus Woelfle

Dear Pablo: Which is more sustainable, eyeglasses or contact lenses?

Contact lenses are disposable, a word that is not usually synonymous with sustainability. But eyeglasses are made out of metal and other materials that also have a certain environmental footprint. Which is the more sustainable choice?… Read the full story on TreeHugger
Visit the original post at: TreeHugger