Wednesday 31 December 2008

Dyesol and Corus Accelerate Solar Cell Commercialisation

Building Integrated

At a time when virtually all of the construction and solar cell industry is experiencing a significant slowing of activity and short term demand and profitability declines are the norm, the Corus/Dyesol partnership has announced that the project to bring dye solar cells (DSC) onto metal roofing is being accelerated. The decision to accelerate the project was made on the basis of anticipated demand growing dramatically from 2010 and the success of the program to date, wherein the achievement of product milestones is well ahead of schedule.

Dyesol and Corus will commit more technical and production engineering staff to the project, and initiate real life product testing by mid 2009. The commercialization path will be shortened to eliminate one stage of the manufacturing assurance phase. This will mean that product will become available from the first production line in 2010 for selected customers.

The acceleration of the current phase is being financed predominantly by bringing forward planned commitments. Details of plans for the earlier commitment of production facilities from 2010 will be released over the coming months.

The dye solar cell integrated into steel roofing promises to be the first solar cell technology that can be grid competitive in the normal light conditions experienced in most cities around the world. The advantages of dye solar cells derive from the similarity with photosynthesis. Consequently, dye solar cells exhibit operating voltage stability across the normal daily solar conditions, including cloudy and hazy conditions. DSC is also less susceptible to hot conditions than other solar technologies – and it comes in a variety of natural colours. The technology has been demonstrated by Dyesol through accelerated testing to have an operating lifetime well in excess of the 25 years needed for BIPV applications. Combined with the low energy required for manufacture and relatively cheap materials of construction, DSC has tremendous potential for application wherever steel roofing is used.

For further information contact Viv Hardy at Callidus PR on +61 (0)2 9283 4113 or on +61 (0) 411 208 951.
In Europe contact Eva Reuter, Investor Relations, Dyesol Europe on +49 177 6058804

Monday 15 December 2008

Dyesol and Corus Accelerate Building Integrated Solar Cell Commercialisation

At a time when virtually all of the construction and solar cell industry is experiencing a significant slowing of activity and short term demand and profitability declines are the norm, the Corus/Dyesol partnership has announced that the project to bring dye solar cells (DSC) onto metal roofing is being accelerated. The decision to accelerate the project was made on the basis of anticipated demand growing dramatically from 2010 and the success of the program to date, wherein the achievement of product milestones is well ahead of schedule.

Dyesol and Corus will commit more technical and production engineering staff to the project, and initiate real life product testing by mid 2009. The commercialization path will be shortened to eliminate one stage of the manufacturing assurance phase. This will mean that product will become available from the first production line in 2010 for selected customers.

The acceleration of the current phase is being financed predominantly by bringing forward planned commitments. Details of plans for the earlier commitment of production facilities from 2010 will be released over the coming months.

The dye solar cell integrated into steel roofing promises to be the first solar cell technology that can be grid competitive in the normal light conditions experienced in most cities around the world. The advantages of dye solar cells derive from the similarity with photosynthesis. Consequently, dye solar cells exhibit operating voltage stability across the normal daily solar conditions, including cloudy and hazy conditions. DSC is also less susceptible to hot conditions than other solar technologies – and it comes in a variety of natural colours. The technology has been demonstrated by Dyesol through accelerated testing to have an operating lifetime well in excess of the 25 years needed for BIPV applications. Combined with the low energy required for manufacture and relatively cheap materials of construction, DSC has tremendous potential for application wherever steel roofing is used.

For further information contact Viv Hardy at Callidus PR on +61 (0)2 9283 4113 or on +61 (0) 411 208 951.
In Europe contact Eva Reuter, Investor Relations, Dyesol Europe on +49 177 6058804

Monday 8 December 2008

GreenSmith launches backup battery for grid

Washington D.C.-based GreenSmith Energy Management Systems unveiled technology it says can solve the peak demand problems of U.S. utilities.

CEO Rodney Smith said the company has designed a battery control and management system that, when paired with lithium ion battery GreenSmith acquired from a manufacturer overseas, can store 20 kilowatt-hours at a time and provide between 3,000 and 4,000 full-discharge cycles.

The idea is that utilities could charge the battery when it's cheaper to produce energy, such as in the middle of the night, and could discharge that energy onto the grid when it's most expensive to produce power.

Smith said ideal circumstances would be to use the battery during peak demand instead of firing up a peak power plant, which is more expensive to run. The unit could help reduce the need for additional power plants and prevent utilities from losing excess power generated.

"Utilities are far more receptive to distributed storage technologies than they are to smart grid, and for a reason," Smith told the Cleantech Group. "Grid replacement is like trying to replace the air traffic control system. You have to put a lot of money into it before you see any rewards from it. With our technology, you get the benefit right away."

The technology can be paired with intermittent renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, to better align power supply with power demand, Smith said.

That field is also being targeted by companies such as ZBB Energy, which has contracted with the Australian government to accelerate development of the company's zinc-bromine storage systems for renewable energy projects (see ZBB gets Australian contract for renewable energy storage and ZBB, Zest in energy storage deal).

Tyngsboro, Mass.-based Beacon Power (Nasdaq: BCON) is promoting its multiple-flywheel systems to supply or absorb electricity, giving extra stability to a grid that's experiencing demand or supply peaks (see Beacon slows flywheel storage plans).

According to the Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center, there is a strong economic case for flywheel installations to improve grid stability, as evidenced by the New York Independent System Operator and the PJM Interconnection.

Last year, Windsor, Colo.-based Ice Energy revealed a device to shift up to 95 percent of air-conditioning load to off-peak hours while providing full cooling performance (see Ice Energy cools down power demand).

Other technology is attempting to use molten salt for energy storage (see Concentrated solar gets salty and Cleantech Group picks winners and losers in concentrated solar thermal).

GreenSmith's systems are designed to be managed from a central location, either programmed to optimize cheap energy price or manually controlled. Utilities, regional transmission agencies and co-ops in the U.S. are the current market, but GreenSmith eventually plans to target global markets, especially those with intermittent access to the electric grid.

Consumers aren't the target for GreenSmith, although Smith said the devices could be modified for home use.

GreenSmith is in talks with several utilities and expects a pilot project with a utility to begin operating in about two months. The company plans to produce commercially by mid-2009, with tens of thousands of units sold that year.

After that, GreenSmith expects to sell hundreds of thousands of units to utilities a year. A large utility would probably use about 3,000 units in a pilot test and as many as a million units in full deployment, whereas a small utility might seek between 100 and 1,000 for a pilot, Smith said.

Each unit would cost about $10,000, minus volume discounts, which Smith said produces an energy cost of less than 10 cents per kilowatt hour.

GreenSmith has raised an undisclosed amount in angel funding from private investors. The company is currently raising a Series A round led by Blue Lagoon Capital, but Smith declined to reveal the size of the round, saying that reports of a $20 million round were incorrect.

The company, which Smith said has a "handful" of employees, originally pursued smart grid technology when it was founded in 2007 as an offshoot of think-tank Intelligent Power Unit. Smith decided energy storage presented a more lucrative business model because it was faster to market.

"We thought, what if instead of trying to fight peak you could shift peak?" Smith said. "So we decided to focus on storage."

Sunday 7 December 2008

One of the next big things...biochar

POZNAN, Poland (Reuters) – An ancient technique of plowing charred plants into the ground to revive soil may also trap greenhouse gases for thousands of years and forestall global warming, scientists said on Friday.

Heating plants such as farm waste or wood in airtight conditions produces a high-carbon substance called biochar, which can store the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and enhance nutrients in the soil.

Plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow. Subsequently storing that carbon in the soil removes the gas from the atmosphere.

"I feel confident that the (carbon storage) time of stable biochar is from high hundreds to a few thousand years," said Cornell University's Johannes Lehmann, at an event on the sidelines of U.N. climate talks in the Polish city of Poznan.

Lehmann estimated that under ambitious scenarios biochar could store 1 billion tons of carbon annually -- equivalent to more than 10 percent of global carbon emissions, which amounted to 8.5 billion tons in 2007.

Under a conservative scenario the technique could store 0.2 billion tons of carbon annually, he said. That would still require heating without oxygen -- called pyrolysis -- some 27 percent of global crop waste and plowing this into the soil.

Lehmann cited experiments on 10 farm crops suggesting biochar can also increase yields by up to three times, because the organic matter holds on to nutrients.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said in November that global greenhouse gas emissions were so out of control that avoiding more dangerous levels of climate change depended on creating negative emissions later this century.

The energy adviser to 28 industrialized countries cited biochar as one way of achieving that.

The technique rings alarm bells among some environmentalists worried it could spur deforestation, but its chief problem may be that it is barely proven on a commercial scale.

"It will remain theoretical without making demonstration plants on the ground," Lehmann said.

Soils containing biochar made by Amazon people thousands of years ago still contain up to 70 times more black carbon than surrounding soils and are still higher in nutrients, said Debbie Reed, director of the International Biochar Initiative (IBI).

The IBI was in Poznan to lobby for research funding for biochar. In Poznan, 187 countries are meeting in ongoing talks to agree a new climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol after 2012. They hope to finalize a deal next year.

Lehmann emphasized that the technique was not a substitute for fighting climate change by curbing man-made greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels.

Wednesday 5 November 2008

New steel works facilities opened

New steel works facilities opened
New high-tech environmental facilities at a steelworks in Deeside have been opened by First Minister Rhodri Morgan.

The two new multi-million pound projects at Corus' Shotton steel works should safeguard around 600 jobs at the plant.

One will produce panelling which includes insulation for roofing on commercial or residential buildings.

The second will undertake research into steel coated with solar cell technology to produce electricity.

Rhodri Morgan said it showed how companies were putting environmental technology at the forefront of investment plans.

"During difficult times in the construction sector, it is more important than ever for companies to be right at the forefront of new environmental technology exploiting new niche markets," he said.

"That's what today's product launches are all about.

"They are yet another example of how Corus continually looks to innovate and invest in delivering some of the most sustainable products available to today's construction sector."

The Shotton plant employs around 600 workers.

The new £6m production line at the works will produce around three million square metres of panelling a year using three shifts of workers.

It is widely recognised as the most automated and efficient production line in Europe.

The two panels sandwich insulation material between them.

The second project is an £11m joint collaboration between Corus and the Australian company Dyesol.

It is backed with about £5m in assembly government money, said a Corus spokesman.

The scheme aims to produce metal cladding products coated with a special dye including cells to make electricity.

"Steel production is being reduced across Western Europe, but demand for innovative products is very high," said the spokesman.

Shotton has lost more than 490 jobs since 2001 with the slim-down in the steel industry.

Corus was taken over by Tata Steel last year and the combined enterprise employs around 82,700 people across four continents.

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Dyesol/Corus facilities open in Wales

Wales, 30 October 2008 – Australia’s dye solar cell technology company, Dyesol furthered its goal of capturing a significant slice of the global solar photovoltaic market, forecast to be worth over $US 30 billion in 2008, with the opening today of a new multi-million dollar facility in Wales, just weeks after unveiling its materials manufacturing and equipment design and assembly facility in Australia.

The leader of the Welsh Assembly Government and First Minister for Wales, The Right Hon Rhodri Morgan AM opened the new Photovoltaic Accelerator Facility which is a continuation of a collaborative program between Dyesol and Corus to accelerate the commercialisation of Dye Solar Cell (DSC) technology onto steel sheeting building products.

The Welsh Assembly Government has been a strong supporter of the partnership, providing a substantial assistance package of over £5M towards the establishment of the new facility, which is located in Shotton in North Wales, and the development of DSC on steel products. At the time of receiving this grant, it was the highest sum ever to be awarded under this grant scheme.

At the opening, Corus, the fifth largest steel producer in the world, also showcased the most technologically advanced composite panel manufacturing lines in Europe, reinforcing Corus’s commitment to the region where two other Corus businesses already operate. Mr Phillippe Varin, CEO of Corus, stressed the importance of innovation to the future of Corus, particularly at this time when traditional steel business is affected by the credit crisis. For Corus, DSC on steel represents a major new business opportunity.

The advantage of Dyesol’s DSC technology over conventional photovoltaic technology is its lower facility cost, lower energy to manufacture, proportionally higher output of electricity in normal and low light conditions, and the ability to directly incorporate it into buildings as passive electricity generators – multifunctional building panels. This is known as BIPV or Building Integrated Photovoltaics. The partnership with Corus is bringing DSC to the market as a fully integrated steel building product produced on the Corus coil-coating lines. Dyesol is the exclusive supplier of all the DSC input materials, test, and DSC prototype manufacturing and testing equipment to this partnership.

Speaking at the opening, Dyesol’s Global Managing Director, Dr Gavin Tulloch said, “Dyesol is proud to be associated with Corus, a partner that has demonstrated its commitment to the environment and the future of cost effective energy security. We are also proud to be associated with the Welsh government, whose commitment to the team has accelerated the project. Dyesol’s business is to be part of technical collaborations and business partnerships in those countries where organisations, research institutes and governments recognise and foster an environment that promotes the rapid commercialisation of DSC technology.”

“As governments around the world legislate to meet the consequences of global warming, significant new opportunities and new applications are emerging as Dyesol works with more organisations to develop new products, including security applications, the communications market and buildings facades. In a tightening credit market, lower cost projects such as what Dyesol offers will have much more appeal than the billion dollar silicon projects” Dyesol Chairman, Mr Richard Caldwell commented.

The Dyesol group was founded in Australia, is listed on the ASX (DYE) and trades in Germany (D5I), and has European operations in Italy, UK and Switzerland with representation in Germany, as well as a joint venture in Korea and operations in Singapore.

Wednesday 29 October 2008

Dyesol Update

Dyesol finished the first quarter of the financial year with cash reserves of $10.54 million and controlled cash flow, as planned for the period.

The September 2008 quarter demonstrated that Dyesol has achieved its goals to stabilise operational spending while increasing revenue. In fact, revenue increased by 387% to $1.29M (including $359K in R&D tax rebate). Consequently nett operational spend was down 40% to $2.092 Million. Expenses for all operational activities are steady. It is noted that all Dyesol’s cash is held as current and short term deposits in top trading banks in Australia (CBA and St George), UK (HSBC), Switzerland (Raiffeisen), and Italy (BPM). Dyesol’s investment in our joint venture with Timo Technologies in Korea of US$490,000 was made at an exchange rate of 0.8986 ($US/$A).

During the quarter, Dyesol completed commitments for equipment for the new facilities in St Asaph, Shotton and Queanbeyan. Total investment was $2.165M with creditors outstanding of less than $400K. The Dyesol facility in St Asaph is the company’s demonstration laboratory facility and is used for R&D and materials approval and complements our joint prototyping facility at University of Rome Tor Vergata (formally opened this quarter). Since the cash report date, Dyesol has opened the new materials manufacturing and engineering facilities in Queanbeyan and received excellent acclaim for the quality and professionalism of this initiative. Dyesol’s commitments to facilities with Corus at Shotton have now been finalised with equipment produced in Queanbeyan currently being installed in Wales. Further expansion of facilities will depend on new business opportunities.

Since the cash report date, the company has received formal confirmation that cash payments due from the Welsh Government and from Tor Vergata University totalling over A$1.25M have been authorised. Existing contracts in Korea and Taiwan due for completion early in the new year will generate revenue exceeding $1.1 Million on completion of project milestones.

Expenditure in UK and Italy is backed by the company’s holdings in Sterling and Euros. Expenditure in Switzerland is subject to exchange rate fluctuations.

Dyesol has no debt and capital lease liabilities of only $29K. In Australia, the company has invested in long shelf life raw materials inventory for potential materials contracts – stock level is over $800K. The company has a robust balance sheet with over $23M nett assets.

Authorised by: Dr Gavin Tulloch (Managing Director Dyesol) +61 (0)2 6299 1592

Saturday 27 September 2008

On peak Oil - ASPO

Monday, September 22, was the first day of the formal meeting, following the Breakout sessions on Sunday. The meeting had over 500 attendees, so that all the seats were full as the meeting started, and there were soon folk standing at the back of the hall. Kjell Aleklett, President of ASPO-International, began with a brief review of world conditions before Sally Odland moderated the first session which was an introduction, or reminder, of the basics of oil generation and exploration. This was provided by Ken Verosub, a professor of geology at UC Davis. Starting with the basics of oil formation, he pointed out the combination of different geological events, and the resulting layers of rock that have to be formed in place in order to create, capture and then trap the rock, and the need for geological movement to then concentrate the supply so that it can be recovered.

He pointed out that the oil has to be “cooked” just the right amount to convert it to oil, which requires a certain depth of burial, at one stage in its history. He illustrated the events through the creation of oil traps around a salt dome. To find the traps, the methodology has had to get more refined. Originally, two-dimensional models of the subsurface were achieved by using exploding sound sources and a small array of geophones to pick up reflected sound waves and thus map the layers of rock beneath the surface. The systems today can use computer analysis to generate three-dimensional images which can be projected into rooms that allow the geologists a degree of exploration not available in earlier years.

He went on to explain how a “Hubbert” curve of depletion is formed for a given oil field, from the accumulation of production rise and decline of the individual wells in a field. He mentioned that the results of the combination of geological rocks that have to come together to provide a viable field restrict potential discoveries to relatively known places. (These do not include many of the places where the “Drill here, Drill now” message is enunciated). Finding where there is enough oil to justify a well is neither easy nor cheap. He then used some simplified math to show that the amount of oil that is left is already diminished to the point that, in the best circumstance, oil production will peak in the 2010 to 2015 time frame. This assumes a world max production of around 100 mbd (we’re at about 86 now).

Sally Odland works at the Lamont-Doherty Laboratory where just recently they have acquired an ex-industrial sesmic survey ship. Because of the recent cost increases in ship repair, and the fact that the industry kept hiring away the team members, restoring the boat took much longer and more funds than anticipated. The costs of fuel now mandate that the ship be rented out to industry for 5 months of the year, so that the School can afford to use it for the other 7 months.

Sadly Gil Mull one of those who helped drive the first exploration well in the North Slope of Alaska could not make the conference, but Sally went through the slides of his presentation, and these will be available at the ASPO website within a couple of days, and are well worth seeing.

Jeremy Gilbert tried to sound a Wake-up call. He noted that in many reports of the remaining reserves and production the only reliable numbers are often the page numbers. He now sees that the projections of the arrival of peak oil have been optimistic, and that the risks have got worse, as the peak point approaches. He noted that as world gas prices continue to rise, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has just cut oil and gas prices (which increases domestic demand). He spoke disparagingly of previous IEA projections, but noted that the agency has recently undergone a change in heart and now sees three problem areas:

(1) the geological constraints on finding large fields of oil;
(2) the lack of investment able to exploit these increasingly difficult and expensive sites; and
(3) the much greater production problems that working in these more difficult environments bring.

He bemoaned the renewable energy mantra that “solar, wind or something, UFO’s perhaps, will bring an answer to our crisis.”

The problem is that we are finding only smaller fields each year, and must thus find more of them to make up for depletion. Those who call for more drilling need to learn that this will take time (given that all the rigs available are already busy, and that permitting etc all takes time). And as for new technology, this is usually applied in harder-to-produce rock, where its implementation only brings overall recovery values up to what they were originally estimated to be. He noted that while we have doubled the number of drilling rigs (around 3,500) in recent years, overall production levels have remained the same. And since Russia likely peaked last year, we are now running on borrowed time.

In short, it is past time that we wake up to the crisis at our door. He recommended the Deutsche Bank Report “From shale to shining shale” which is a critical look at shale gas plays.

Morey Wolfson of ASPO (and the Colorado Governor’s office) then presented a truly impressive new addition to the ASPO web site, the new Google Earth Global Energy Infrastructure tour . The tour had been put onto a 20-min video that he ran. Having watched it, I really encourage you to check out the site. It shows all aspects of the energy issue, and finds and shows the places that are important to it. (You could count the tankers in the Malacca Straits).

The next speaker was Matt Simmons whom I have heard on numerous occasions, but who this time talked into a silence as intense as any I have heard. He scared the audience in a way I have not seen before, perhaps because we were all much more willing to believe this time, given his record from the past.

He noted at the beginning of his talk that there are 150 miles of unit trains leave Wyoming every day. (Ed note – a 1-mile unit train contains 110 rail cars of 100 tons of coal each.) He talked about the elements of risk that we have now forgotten how to apply. He noted that we have forgotten how savage a collapse can be, or how fast it can occur. (Enron unfolded in 7 days. The events of the last week showed how even faster collapse can come now). The delays in bringing oil production on line from the recent hurricanes will only underline this point.

As a result places are running out of gasoline (Ed note the two folk next to me at the table were from Atlanta and Tennessee and neither town had any gas stations left with fuel, as far as they knew). The South is going to have to cope with a growing shortage until more of the infrastructure comes back on line, and that may be weeks into the future. This will get worse if all motorists suddenly start topping up their tanks, since this will sensibly empty the floating reserve that is the volume moving through the system at the moment. This will, in turn, remove confidence in the system, which will make the situation worse. The heating oil situation for the North East is only going to get worse in this scenario. And there is no data on how close to a collapse we currently are. And the collapse could well be a disaster equivalent to that of Gustav/Ike squared.

He noted that contrary to the solutions for the financial world there is no insurance policy that can help with Peak Oil. The paradigm is changing and sadly the world is still Energy Illiterate.

He also commented, having talked with producers of the new gas wells being drilled in the various shale formations around the country, that this is close to, if not already at a point where the energy costs to sink the well are not returned by the gas recovered from it. Further in talking with Baker Hughes folk (the ones that track the wells that are drilled around the world), he found that those who thought depletion in old fields was less than 5% got no takers from his audience, 60% of the audience thought that depletion was between 6 and 8% and the remainder thought that it was in the range above 10%. (As noted earlier the assumed value is often taken as somewhere between 2 & 4% with TOD using around 4.5%). It was by far the most pessimistic that I have heard him give.

We then broke for lunch and I was confronted by the question as to whether the situation would be so bad that we would not be able to come to a meeting, if one is held next year. Then the annual M King Hubbert Awards were presented, and we will talk about them in a separate post.

Jim Buckee of Talisman gave the luncheon address, talking on the production company viewpoint. He differentiated between the volume available in a field, and the production rates that can be achieved at it. He said that Peak Oil is real, and illustrated this conclusion by discussing the decline in production rate from virtually all the major oilfields of the world. 90% of production comes from 10% of the fields and we know which they are. He then went through the list, which was dominated by the comment “in terminal exponential decline.” The depletion rate he quoted (after the 50% production point) was on average 10%.

In discussing the KSA fields he said that these also will follow these rules, as Abqaiq already is. Talk of increasing post peak production with Enhanced Oil Recovery Techniques does not spell out what these might be, and his opinion was that this was a likely myth. Recent Natural Gas Liquid (NGL) increases have hidden the likely peaking of crude oil, but this will only last a short interval more before it too will start to decline.

He did give a realistic reason why the major oil companies have not admitted to Peak Oil, pointing out that it will lead to reactions very similar to those that hit the financial community last week. Nevertheless with resource nationalism rising this makes further exploration tough; makes it difficult for industry to attract people; has doubled production costs over the last 3 years; and leads to a constant fight against field declines.

He pointed out that there is no opposite to a train wreck. Further nationalism just means that the state takes a larger slice of a pie of fixed size. The change in production from majors to IOCs to NOCs has led to increasingly smaller production levels at higher costs. He felt we would hold production at the current level of around 85 mbd for another decade, but only because we will soon see effective rationing of this supply.

I then took a short break and missed the first after-lunch talks so any input on those would be helpful. I came back as Hermann Franssen was taking about the role of the IEA, and its recognition that times have changed, and as a result that its predictions of the future supply are changing also. He tried to get the audience to understand the world from the KSA point of view. That they see a constant threat to the price of oil, and their income, and thus act very protectively to ensure that they can continue to make money selling their oil. But they are also conscious that they want to leave some oil for their offspring, and thus are very conservative in their production management. However Aramco is very compartmentalized, and thus only very few people really know the numbers and what is going on. And some of those that do are very pessimistic.

We must change things, and this requires successful “suits” going to Washington with a message. This message should include the need to fix the American transport system (against which are marshaled all those that have an interest in the highway system as it currently stands).

The world’s stock or cars will double in the next 17 years, but the Middle East is close to reaching an upper sustainable production level, and non-OPEC has peaked. Thus, the best we can hope for is in the 90 – 105 mbd range. He was nervous of the foreign policy of Gazprom. And while they are in the Middle East already, it must be remembered that America has zero credibility in this region.

Andy Weissman in the first of two talks, covered Electricity and Gas, noting that their crisis points are not yet here, though close. We could easily soon see natural gas (NG) prices that equate to $150/bbl of oil. The supplies of NG that have become so critical to powering the national power grid are going to decline in volume, and thus increase in price. LNG is the marginal production we will come to rely on, and this will impose an additional premium on price. He anticipates global shortages of LNG by 2012/2013, with devastating consequences. He sees 5 essential requirements to meeting our needs:

1. Greater sense of urgency needed
2. Replace the IEA
3. Deelop a national strategy to review energy use across the board
4. Maximize all cost effective domestic resources
5. Use the best expertise available to review the options.

Jim Puplava felt that the worst is yet to come. He relies on the Chicago Federal National Activity Index. When this falls below -0.7, then there will be recession (it’s close). He is recommending a Prius to help in the time when gas rationing arrives. We are at a point where we have maximized the rig count and yet production is not rising. He feels it is ludicrous not to expect a decline in non-OPEC production. We have an immediate crisis and need to take action. We are talking about the wrong set of solutions and need to change the mind set. The opinion of the experts has been shaken and the lack of good information does not help.

After the break John Theobald introduced the next session with the opening section of the film Soylent Green which, for those who have forgotten, is people. (See the movie).

He then introduced David Fridley who reviewed the recent growth and change in condition in China. It is an economy where coal dominates supply (at around 97% of the resource base) and with a reserve of around 238 billion tons, is likely to continue to do so into the future.

Biomass (rice hulls and similar debris) is used extensively in the hinterland as a fuel source for cooking and heating. Industry otherwise dominates consumption, while transport needs have been small. However, the coal consumption has out-stripped the capabilities of rail to carry it, and thus trucks are increasingly used. These increase the energy cost for delivery by a factor of 16, but China has few other options. China has been busy buying up resources all around the world; it must do so to meet its needs. It is looking at Coal to Liquid and Coal to Chemical plants with the first CTL going in to Shenhua in Inner Mongolia. But it will be a large consumer of water at around 10 tons for every ton of liquid produced, in an area that has little water to spare. Ethanol was not a success, so they now produce methanol and blend this into gasoline.

Diesel is dominant in transportation. There are very few private automobiles, compared to other countries.

Vince Matthews then talked about Peak everything else, and included China in this analysis which saw China seeking major volumes of many commodities and in the process driving up the price. There were many examples given in the slide show of these increases, over a range of minerals. Steel price for example has risen six-fold. Where prices have not yet risen dramatically it has been because of long-term contracts that control price until they expire.

We forget that much of our NG is imported from Canada, and as their needs rise and production falls their exports to us will decline. Thus even though the rig count has increased, we are still in trouble. 49 coal plants came off line last year, to be replaced by NG, but while the number of wells drilled increased from 9,000 to 30,180 over the past few years, production has not matched this increase. Production from the Rockies region is flattening out.

Many folk talk about our redemption coming through increased use of photovoltaics (PV) and solar energy, not recognizing that solar cells require rare earth elements that are largely falling under the control of China, and whose price continues to rocket upwards. China is searching diligently for mines and prospects to acquire (doesn’t really matter what the mineral) and is becoming much more successful than ourselves. (though he noted that Shell is buying up the water rights in Colorado around the oil shale area).

The days activity were summarized by Robert Hirsch, who again emphasized the magnitude of the problem – just matching 1% of global need requires 850,000 bd of oil equivalent. He looked at certain one-liner phrases that had cropped up over the day. “Willful human blindness” was one of the more memorable, as was “Peak roads”.

And then we adjourned to network. As I mentioned in the earlier post there were many of our readers at the meeting, it was a great pleasure for us to meet and chat with many of those, particularly the ones who don’t often comment. And to those as other attendees, I do ask that you expand on my brief review, fill in the blanks and add your impressions.


Thursday 28 August 2008

Dyesol results

The year to 30 June 2008 has seen Dyesol emerge as a leading force internationally in new generation solar energy. In this year the Company has made significant investment to establish capacity to deliver on the many business opportunities that have arisen. Dyesol now has operations spanning Europe and Asia that enable the Company to bid for and win contracts that we could not have considered or qualified for from our Australian base. An example is the partnership with Corus to develop and industrialise dye solar cells on strip steel for building integration. Our investment in establishing Dyesol UK, setting up prototype facilities in North Wales and employing the team of 8 scientists has brought fruit through the commitment by the Welsh Assembly Government to support the partnership to a level of £5 million during the prototype and pilot production phases. This has enabled Dyesol to plan with assurance for volume manufacture in the UK for the planned industrialization phase. In Italy, Dyesol has established a collaboration with the Universita Dgli Studia Roma Tor Vergata following commitment by the university to acquire a prototyping facility from Dyesol. The industrial and academic team is finalizing a bid for a €10 million project in Italy. In Asia, Dyesol has been approached by many companies seeking to commercialise DSC. Since the end of the year, we have been able to announce three of those projects, two in Korea and one in Taiwan. The Company has been very selective in entering partnerships and collaborates only with organizations that demonstrate financial capacity and long term business and technological commitment. This is essential for commercial success as Dyesol’s business model provides for our major returns to be earned once our partners, collaborators and licencees enter volume manufacture. Consequently, the Company undertakes significant due diligence before committing to a commercial relationship to the extent that there are several other opportunities in Europe, Asia, North America and the Gulf that the international team are evaluating at this time.

In Australia, FY08 has been the year for commitment to production resources for materials and equipments. The new materials manufacturing facility is now completed and will be officially opened shortly. That facility has a capacity of $10 million worth of dye per annum and will shortly be able to produce over $5 million of pastes per annum. The facilities have capacity to double output as demand grows. Our new engineering facilities are on line and the range of prototype equipments is now complete. This investment in the future is reflected in the expenditure on corporate growth and capital equipment. Expense for international growth has predominated in the marketing expense of $2.39 million. The other key element in this line item is the expenditure on exhibitions and sponsorship of high profile conferences in our field. Capital expenditure this year has been $2.37 million predominantly for facility expansion in Queanbeyan, but also comprising the initial prototyping capacity at our facilities in St Asaph in Wales. These new facilities in Queanbeyan will complete Dyesol’s planned investment in Australian operations.

Coupled with the commitment to corporate growth and facilities, the Company has steadily expanded its technological and executive resource to be able to serve the rapidly growing project base internationally. Expenditure on personnel more than doubled in the year to $4.17 million of which $0.67 million was the non-cash value of staff options as calculated by the Black-Scholes method.

In this year sales grew to $2.12 million. While this was below expectations at the start of the year, it is primarily a matter of phasing in key projects in UK, Italy and Asia, each of which has now commenced. The principle project is the partnership with Corus. During the year, one planned project has not eventuated due to the closure by the new Australian government of the Commercial Ready scheme that provided assistance to companies in expansion phase investment. During FY08, Dyesol successfully completed the project for DSTO to develop a camouflage flexible solar panel. The commercial version of this panel will be known as SureVolt reflecting the capability to produce useful power in any light conditions. That project has now entered the engineering phase to prepare for pilot production.

The overall loss for the year of $7.66 million included non cash items of $1.23 million for share based payments to staff and international marketing consultants. This high value was arrived at using the Black Scholes option valuation method and is well out of the market as a result of volatility of Dyesol share price during the year. Depreciation and amortisation amounted to $740K and foreign exchange losses total $180K ($117K unrealized). Payments of a one-off nature totalled $1,130K, primarily related to consultancy services for business establishment and international activities. Significant labour costs were incurred in the administration and marketing areas, with the level of administration support directly related to the increase in scientific personnel. Conference costs of $302K mainly relate to the highly successful Nanofair exhibition and conference at St Gallen in September 2007. Total marketing, new office establishment, and sales expense was $2.37 million, above expectations due to the rate of expansion achieved in the year. The other major expenditure category was R&D which totalled $2.17 million, a level that the Company intends to at least maintain to remain the world leader in DSC technology, equipment and materials.

The year end sees a very solid Balance Sheet with Current Assets at $17.7 million compared to Current Liabilities of only $0.94 million. The Company carries no bank debt and no assets are subject of security. When capital assets are brought to account the Company has a healthy Net Asset balance of $24.28 million. The confidence shown by shareholders in investing $24.4 million during the year has been a key element in the rapid expansion that Dyesol has been able to implement this year.

Net cash usage for operations of $7.8 million reflects an average utilisation of $650K per month within the planned range for this phase of the Company’s growth. Consequently, with similar spend over the next period to promote Dyesol in the international sphere and meet our investment goals under existing development projects, while accepting that cash levels will be maintained due to progressively higher revenue, will place Dyesol in a very good position to reap the rewards from sales to several major customers and partners.

Tuesday 19 August 2008

Driven: Shai Agassi's Audacious Plan

Shai Agassi — on a mission to end oil.

Shai Agassi looks up and down the massive rectangular table in the Ritz-Carlton ballroom and begins to worry. He knows he's out of his league here. For the last day and a half, he's been listening to an elite corps of Israeli and US politicians, businesspeople, and intellectuals debate the state of the world. Agassi is just one of 60 sequestered in a Washington, DC, hotel for a conference run by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy. Among the participants: Bill Clinton, former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres, Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer, and two past directors of the CIA.

It's December 2006. Scheduled to speak in a few minutes, Agassi gets nudged by the Israeli minister of education: "Be optimistic," she tells him. "We've got to close with an upbeat tone." Agassi thanks her. Optimism won't be a problem.

At 38, Agassi is the youngest invitee. Just after the dotcom boom, SAP, the world's largest maker of enterprise software, paid $400 million for a small-business software company he started with his father; now he's SAP's head of products and widely presumed to be the next CEO. But he's not here this morning to talk about business software. Instead, his topic will be the world's addiction to fossil fuels. It's a recent passion and the organizers invited him to counterbalance the man speaking now, Daniel Yergin, the famed energy consultant and oil industry analyst. Yergin gives them his latest thinking: Energy independence is unattainable. Oil consumption will continue to rise. Iran will get richer. It's not exactly what this audience wants to hear.

Now it's Agassi's turn. He starts off uncharacteristically nervous, stammering a bit. He's got something different, he says. A new approach. He believes it just might be possible to get the entire world off oil. For good. Point by point, gaining speed as he goes, he shares for the first time in public the ideas that will change his future—and possibly the world's.

Agassi has dark hair, light brown eyes, and a square jaw. He's a careful speaker, holding back until the right moment before delivering his thoughts. He's partial to dramatic pauses, especially if he's about to explain how the future is going to look—something he does all the time. People often think he's kidding, partly because he always has a slight, wry smile. But when the pause ends, what follows—no matter how far-fetched—is never a joke. At his first executive board meeting at SAP, a company that had grown dominant by moving slowly and conservatively, Agassi suggested nearly a dozen heretical ideas. He said SAP should give away its hardware and software for free—just charge for IT support. He said SAP should make its database business open source to undermine Oracle. The other board members laughed: The new kid was a cutup! But they stopped when SAP cofounder Hasso Plattner looked around the table and said, "He's the only guy making sense here."

Agassi's interest in energy is new. In 2005, he joined Young Global Leaders, an invitation-only group for politicians and businesspeople under 40. The four-day induction seminar was held at the Swiss ski resort of Zermatt. Between lectures, YGLs like Skype cofounder Niklas Zennström and NBA star Dikembe Mutombo pledged to find ways to "make the world a better place" by 2020. Agassi's assignment was the environment, and he quickly focused in on climate change.

Most left the event and just poked around in their own industries, looking for small tweaks and improvements. But Agassi wanted something bigger. Back home in Silicon Valley, his day job involved coaxing SAP into the Web 2.0 era. But after Zermatt, his nights were devoted to dinners with energy experts, books on energy policy, and sessions on Wikipedia, learning everything he could about the carbon economy. Getting off oil was the key, he decided. But how? He started by looking at cutting energy usage in the home, then moved to a more tempting target: transportation. Was hydrogen the answer? What about embedding power in the street—like slot cars? Could more be done with biofuels? Agassi kept a running file on his home PC and began working on a series of white papers.
Agassi will sell his battery-powered cars cheap and make money off drivers' electricity purchases.
Photo: Joe Pugliese

The problem, he decided, was oil-consuming, CO2-spewing cars. The solution was to get rid of them. Not just some, and not just by substituting hybrids or flex fuels. No half measures. The internal combustion engine had to be retired. The future was in electric cars.

This was hardly an original insight; electric cars had been the future for over 100 years. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Electric Vehicle Company was the largest automaker in the US, with dealers from Paris to Mexico City. But oil, in the end, supplanted volts on American highways because of one perennial problem: batteries. Car batteries, then and now, are heavy and expensive, don't last long, and take forever to recharge. In five minutes you can fill a car with enough gas to go 300 miles, but five minutes of charging at home gets you only about 8 miles in an electric car. Clever tricks, like adding "range extenders"—gas engines that kick in when a battery dies—end up making the cars too expensive.
Q&A With Israel's Shimon Peres

In early June, Wired's Daniel Roth talked with Israeli president Shimon Peres about Better Place, the greening of Israel, his obsession with Israel's burgeoning solar industry, and the problems that come with turning a vision into a reality. An edited excerpt:

Wired: Was the message of getting off oil something you were concerned about before?

Peres: I thought that the greatest problem of our time was oil. Oil on one hand is polluting the land, and on the other hand it's financing terror. They say jokingly that the Middle East is divided into these kind of countries: the oily countries and the holy countries. We are obviously a holy country. We don't have oil. We don't have water.

Wired: You brought Better Place and Renault together. Did you expect them to form this partnership?

Peres: I never worried about it. My great advantage is that I'm ignorant. My own mentor was David Ben-Gurion. He used to say all experts are experts for things that did happen. There are no experts for things that may happen.

Wired: Before Israel publicly announced its Better Place rollout, I was told that you and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert were going to announce that Israel was going to declare complete energy independence. But the announcement was much more modest. What happened?

Peres: It's not the end of the story. I am now pushing solar energy and introducing the new environmental approach to life. It's foolish: Why should we hang on oil when we can hang on the sun? The sun is much more permanent, more democratic, and there's plenty of it. I'm feeling that our technology will miniaturize the equipment of the solar energy and reduce the cost. So I'm very glad that we started. Israel is going to be a green country. That's our ambition. And our ambition is to do it as soon as possible.

Wired: So can Israel become a clean tech global power?

Peres: Israel, you know, is too small of a country to become a world market and too small a country to become a great world producer, but we have enough scientists per square kilometer to become a world laboratory. And smallness has its own advantages; when you are small you can be really daring, you can be a pilot plant. You cannot, for example, try a car like Shai Agassi's in Texas. It is too large and would be too costly and complicated. Here we can do it on a human scale and eventually extend it and expand it.

Wired: Do you see any "peace dividends" coming out of the clean tech push?

Peres: Oh yes. Ecology forces us to cooperate. Water is not disciplined, the air doesn't ask for visas to fly from one place to another place, and if seas are beginning to die, all partners have to save them. So today the economy is very much a matter of environment, and environment is an independent force that is not committed to borders or rules or conventions. And nature is impatient. You cannot say: I'm going to negotiate pollution for 10 or 20 years. Pollution won't wait for you. Pollution is not a political force; it's a force of nature.

Agassi dealt with the battery issue by simply swatting it away. Previous approaches relied on a traditional manufacturing formula: We make the cars, you buy them. Agassi reimagined the entire automotive ecosystem by proposing a new concept he called the Electric Recharge Grid Operator. It was an unorthodox mashup of the automotive and mobile phone industries. Instead of gas stations on every corner, the ERGO would blanket a country with a network of "smart" charge spots. Drivers could plug in anywhere, anytime, and would subscribe to a specific plan—unlimited miles, a maximum number of miles each month, or pay as you go—all for less than the equivalent cost for gas. They'd buy their car from the operator, who would offer steep discounts, perhaps even give the cars away. The profit would come from selling electricity—the minutes.

There would be plugs in homes, offices, shopping malls. And when customers couldn't wait to "fill up," they'd go to battery exchange stations where they would pull into car-wash-like sheds, and in a few minutes, a hydraulic lift would swap the depleted battery with a fresh one. Drivers wouldn't pay a penny extra: The ERGO would own the battery.

Agassi unveiled the outline of his vision for the crowd at the Saban event: a new kind of infrastructure, with ubiquitous charge stations, that was not only simple and logical but potentially profitable, too. As he talked, he read the body language of the audience—they were leaning forward, they were nodding—and he fed off it, layering on details. A country like Israel, he told them, could get off oil by simply adopting his new business model. No technological breakthroughs were necessary. No new inventions. It was as if he'd discovered a trapdoor beneath both the gasoline industry and the auto industry, a combined $3 trillion market. It sounded easy and unavoidable. Even Daniel Yergin was amazed. Shai Agassi had stolen the show.

A week later, Agassi was in bed when his phone rang. He was asked to hold for Shimon Peres. At first he thought it was a joke.

"Now what?" said the familiar rumbling voice on the other end of the line. Peres said he had been thinking about Agassi's speech since returning to Israel. He wanted to know what Agassi was going to do about it.

"What do you mean?" Agassi asked.

"You spoke so beautifully, you have to make this a reality. Otherwise, it will remain a speech."

After that conversation, Agassi couldn't get Peres' voice out of his head. A few months later, when his boss broke the news that he wouldn't be getting the top job at SAP anytime soon, Agassi shocked just about everyone in the tech world by quitting. And not long after that, in May 2007, he launched Project Better Place, the world's first global electric-car grid operator (he later dropped "Project"). He had no cars, no test site, and no electrical engineering or auto experience. It wasn't even clear that consumers wanted change. They were paying $3 a gallon, painful but bearable.
Electric Avenues
AutoOS, the Better Place operating system, would transform the transportation grid. Here's how.

A special key fob linked to the car indicates the status of the battery. If the logo is throbbing blue, the car is fully charged.
The driver unplugs and heads out. The software analyzes the first few minutes of driving and guesses the destination based on past history: "Work?" it asks. The driver speaks a response and the system determines how much energy is needed for the day.
During the commute, the location-aware system finds and displays three open parking spaces near the office that are equipped with Better Place charging spots.
An automatic arm extends to plug into the car. The spot then communicates with the control center, which anticipates the driver's energy needs so as to allocate power economically. It might, say, limit consumption during expensive peak hours. The driver gets a text: "80 percent charged."
An unexpected meeting comes up. The driver enters a new route, and AutOS determines there is insufficient charge to get there. The driver orders a battery swap.
AutOS finds the most convenient battery-exchange location and books a bay. The old battery gets lowered onto a hydraulic plate, and the car moves forward on a car-wash-style track. In five minutes, a fully charged battery is in place.

Nevertheless, many of Agassi's colleagues from SAP joined him. They realized that what Shai was building was still essentially a software company. He needed a network that allowed cars to tell the grid how much charge they were carrying and how much more they required. The system had to know where the car was so it could tell the driver where to go to "fill up." And it had to electronically negotiate with the local energy utility over when it could and couldn't take power and how much to pay. Few of his colleagues asked to read the business plan before signing on. They were joining the cause, not just the company. "Once you have a mission," Agassi told me over dinner one night last winter, "you can't go back to having a job."

By early summer 2008, Agassi had two countries ready to roll out the plan, a major automaker producing the cars, and $200 million in committed capital. He had launched the fifth-largest startup of all time in less than a year.

After a career spent thinking exclusively about business software, Agassi now thrills to the idea that he's changing the world. "I get to shift multiple markets," he says. "I get to shift economies. It's extremely liberating. I breathe differently."

Israelis like to call Peres, now their president, a visionary, and they mean it as both a compliment and a dig. He sees where things can go but not necessarily how to get there. When I spoke with him, he recognized that Agassi has to deal with the same challenge: "When you translate a dream into reality," he said, "it's never a full implementation. It is easier to dream than to do."

It is mid-May, and Agassi is sitting at the head of a conference table in the Kiryat Atidim high tech office park in northern Tel Aviv. Two dozen Better Place engineers and executives are grabbing platefuls of fresh watermelon and finding seats. About a third have flown in from the company's Palo Alto headquarters; the rest are based here. Agassi knows the Israeli tech community intimately. He was born here to immigrant parents—his dad's family fled from Iraq, his mom's from Morocco—and at 15 he was accepted into the Technion, Israel's MIT. After graduating, he and his father, also a Technion alum, started a series of software companies. They had their pick of talent: The country's density of scientists and engineers is among the highest in the world.

This is the first time that most of these Better Placers have been together in one room. Agassi slumps low in his chair, staring at this morning's first speaker, his little brother, Tal. Better Place is a family affair. Agassi's younger sister, Dafna Barazovsky, also works there, and their father, Reuven, frequently sits in on meetings.
Better Place's Barak Hershkovitz is designing the AutoOS.
Photo: Joe Pugliese

Tal wears a tight-fitting button-down, and as usual his hair is heavily gelled in spikes. At 33, he is Better Place's head of network deployment, overseeing every aspect of the all-important electric grid. Behind him are three gray-and-blue mock-ups of the charging stations. These will be much more than dumb sockets; they have to carry the charge, sure, but they also must withstand being dinged by cars, vandalized by thieves, and subjected to the heat and cold. And they have to communicate with Better Place headquarters to verify that, yes, this is a subscriber and here's how to bill them. The first order of business is to choose a design.

"Put them on the table," Agassi tells his brother, who gently positions the foam models so everyone can vote. The first looks like a giant Pez dispenser, with a skinny trunk leading up to a cantilevered box that houses the charging equipment. The second has a fat base and a skinny body that zigs in the middle, like a svelte E.T. The last one is waist-high, smaller than the others, and resembles a stunted drive-through squawk box. It's the most practical: It can be freestanding or mounted, and it would be the least objectionable to retail centers. It wins unanimous approval. Then, from all around the table, come the real questions. How does the box signal that it's out of service? Where will the 32-amp charging cable go—in the charging spot or in the vehicle? "In America and Australia, it has to be outside the car," declares Ziva Patir, a former vice president of the International Organization for Standardization. Agassi hired her in April, because he not only wants Better Place to adhere to every country's existing regulations, he wants to define the new standards for the coming global electric recharge grid. So the power cords will have to be coiled inside the device and pulled out like a garden hose. But how many hoses? Enough for two cars? Four cars? And if four, won't the box be too small to hold them all? Plus, what if the power outlet on the car is in the back and the driver pulls in facing forward?

Agassi has been listening, saying nothing. But now he reacts. "Our customer goes to park her car," he says. "She pulls in, then she's squeezing between two cars to drag out this big cable and walk it back to her car. She'll be wearing her nice work clothes and getting them dirty." His eyes are closed, his hands resting on his head. "Guys," he says, using a term that always signals his disappointment with the group, "we've just lost half the market. You need to make life simple for people."

Tal stands in the front of the room, slightly stunned. A small-scale Agassi family feud breaks out. Dafna, 37, head of marketing for Better Place's Israel operations, says it's not asking a lot for people to pull into a parking spot a certain way. Their father is sitting up front, but he remains quiet. Tal finally comes up with a response: "We can have a hydraulic arm holding the cable," he says.

That enrages the rest of the room. An arm! The cost of adding an arm to the hundreds of thousands of charge spots they envision will crater the business model, argues someone from the Israeli office. Forget money, someone else says: Redesigning these things will push us way behind on our deadlines. Agassi dismisses the whole idea of an arm. "It'll break in three months," he mutters to himself.

He tries to move the meeting along, but the cable and the connector keep coming up. Each proposed solution creates a new set of problems. ("It's like a fractal," Agassi tells me later of the process, with a hint of pleasure. "But at the end, what you want is a snowflake.") He asks occasional questions, but usually just about how the speaker came to a certain conclusion—it's the thought process more than the answer that seems to intrigue him.

Finally, as Hebrew and English blur into a confusing Esperanto roar, Agassi raises both arms over his head: "One conversation!" he shouts. And then, the pause. He suddenly sees how it's going to work. Maybe the arm isn't so wrong. "This is 'think different,'" he says, invoking Apple, a company that features prominently in the detailed business metaphors he always seems to have at hand. "What do we need to make this happen? Two servos, two degrees of movement for the arm." Pause. "This is the driver experience: He goes into a spot and the spot connects itself. In 2008, we put the cable in the unit, in 2010 we use an arm, in 2012, there's a smart arm that connects automatically. For the home unit, the users get a pull cable for free, or they pay $500 and they get autoconnect. It'll cost $250 to build, and we'll sell it for $500." Agassi has not only come around on the arm, he now thinks it is essential. End of discussion. He even names a company that can build the arm and suggests how to structure the deal.
The choice: to recharge batteries at plug-in spots, or swap them out at special stations.
Photo: Joe Pugliese

"Shai's got two big traits," says Aliza Peleg, Better Place's VP of operations. "By the time he's thought of something, to him it's been completed, it's been achieved," she says. "The other trait is that by the time you've understood what he's thinking, he's already somewhere else. You're in catch-up mode 24/7."

For months, Tal and his team have been working with vendors to design and price the charging spots. Now he has to go back and tell them that they need to add arms—and eventually smart arms—and that the redesign has to be ready by their next all-company meeting, in 90 days.

Crazy. That's what people say when they first realize the scope of Agassi's project. He's tilting at electric windmills, fighting a fight that has undone countless well-funded, well-intentioned entrepreneurs before him. In a time when Silicon Valley is all about small—scalable startups like Flickr, Tumblr, and hundreds of other vowel-deprived minicompanies—Agassi is thinking big. Google, Ford, and Exxon Mobil big. His brother tells me that Better Place is going to become one of the biggest companies in the world. When I ask Shai if he's worried about a competitor stealing his idea, he stares at me like I'm an idiot. "The mission is to end oil," he says, "not create a company."

Most startups try out their product on beta testers. Agassi wanted a beta country. A cooperative national government would be willing to modify the tax code or offer other incentives—essential to getting consumers on board quickly. He wasn't selling cars, but really building a network; the bigger the initial base, the stronger the network effect. A small island nation would be ideal, since the range of his car is limited by the range of his charging grid. Fortunately, he already had deep family and business ties to a virtual island—Israel is surrounded by water on one side and by enemies on all others. The farthest a driver can safely go in a straight shot is about 250 miles. Plus, Israel is increasingly queasy about its role as an oil importer. Anything that threatens the livelihoods of hostile Arab oil sheikhs and Iranian mullahs has a special appeal in Agassi's native land.

Agassi got to work convincing the Israeli government in 2007. First he, Peres, and Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert pressed legislators to change the tax code to make electric vehicles more attractive to consumers. Under the proposed tax scheme, Israel's 78 percent tax on cars would be replaced by a 10 percent tax on zero-emission vehicles and a 72 percent tax on traditional gas-guzzlers. (After four years, the sales tax on electric vehicles will rise sharply.) Agassi argued that the revenue losses—calculated at $700 million over five years—would be insignificant compared to what foreign oil costs the economy. At a Jerusalem press conference in late January, Olmert beamed down at Agassi, who was sitting in the front row: "In order to bring about this dramatic change, sometimes we need a boy like in the fairy tales to say, 'Look, the emperor has no clothes.' We can all see that for ourselves, so how come we haven't said so? And this boy comes along and puts things in motion to bring about change. And the boy in this story—and he really is a boy, practically, but he has achieved more than many adults have—is, of course, Shai Agassi."

He had a country, but he also needed someone to build the cars. At the 2007 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, when Agassi was still representing SAP, he met Carlos Ghosn, CEO of both Nissan and Renault—related companies that together form the fourth-largest automaker in the world. The two talked in Peres' hotel room. Agassi's timing couldn't have been better. Ghosn was looking for a way to leapfrog his competitors in the clean-vehicle arena. GM was chasing the hydrogen fuel cell, Ford liked biofuels, Toyota had the Prius. Ghosn was especially dismissive of the hybrid approach: "They're like mermaids," he told the Israelis. "When you want a fish you get a woman, and when you want a woman you get a fish." Ghosn's companies didn't have much except a tiny electric Nissan car and plans for a high-powered lithium-ion battery to be developed by Nissan and NEC. At best, he figured, he might be able to sell the vehicles to post offices or other companies that would buy a few dozen and never drive them more than 60 miles. Agassi's plan could open much bigger doors. Still, who was this guy? Ghosn was interested, but it was too early to make any commitment.

Two months later, Agassi quit his job at SAP. Soon he was looking for money and, in early June, he found himself sitting in an office in Tel Aviv's gleaming Millennium Tower, pitching to one of Israel's richest men, Idan Ofer.

Ofer is short and powerfully built; he carries himself like a wrestler ready for his next takedown. Ofer and his family have investments around the world, and much of their money is tied up in shipping. But he'd recently bought the largest oil refinery in Israel and was finalizing a joint venture with Chery Automobile, the massive Chinese auto company. Ofer liked what Better Place could do for Israel, and he thought it could work around the world. Plus, he really liked how it might make his China investment more valuable. Chery could build cars to work on the Better Place infrastructure. China itself could be a market. (Agassi has no deal yet with Chery, but one is being discussed.)

Most Israeli entrepreneurs who tried to get into Ofer's wallet were interested only in becoming big in Israel, then selling out. Ofer was impressed that Agassi's global ambitions surpassed even his own.

"He had the self-image of being an equal to Steve Jobs or Michael Dell or Bill Gates," Ofer says. "Even if this ends up destroying—for lack of a better word—my refinery business, that will be small money compared to what this will be. When you play chess, you give up something to get something else."

After the meeting, Ofer joined Agassi in the elevator. By the time they got to the street, he had committed $100 million. The total would eventually grow to $130 million. Agassi raised another $70 million more from Morgan Stanley and two venture firms, VantagePoint Venture Partners and Maniv Energy Capital.

Once Agassi had $200 million to fund the grid and a government serious about tax breaks, Renault began developing an electric car that would be ready for the market by 2011. Agassi promises that 50 Renault prototypes will be on Israeli roads this winter—and 1,000 stations will be there to recharge them. He's not talking about some three-wheeled, pimped-out golf carts, either, but blend-in-at-the-school-parking-lot cars and SUVs. The sedan will be mid-size, similar to Renault's popular Laguna and Mégane models and able to go from 0 to 60 in a respectable 7.5 seconds. Better Place expects to have close to 100,000 vehicles by the end of 2011. And while these might show up in Israel first, Renault plans for them eventually to be on roads worldwide. "We wouldn't have invested if we thought this was a onetime, one-place story," says Patrick Pélata, Renault's product manager and Ghosn's number two.

4x4 Projects in Kfar Saba, a suburb of Tel Aviv, is the auto equivalent of an Olympic training center. The building, however, doesn't look like much, just a mustard-yellow warehouse on a cluttered industrial side street. And inside, it's just a warren of cars, trucks, and auto parts. But on a lift sits a white Jeep Wrangler that's been outfitted with supersize off-road wheels, like a monster dune buggy. A green Hummer is parked in back, its diesel engine replaced with a high-powered Chevy small-block. And a silver BMW 318i has a shiny new Corvette V-8; touch the gas and the tail whips out, perfect for drifting. The only vehicle that doesn't really fit in is a completely ordinary family sedan, a silver 2005 Renault Mégane—Better Place's first prototype.

Agassi needed some way to test Better Place's all-important software, called AutOS (pronounced "autos"). The system serves as energy monitor, GPS unit, help center, and personal assistant, packed into an onboard PC that will also hold cellular and Wi-Fi chips. As part of the debugging process, Agassi bought the used Mégane and sent it to 4x4 with his car guy, Quin Garcia. The assignment was to convert it into an electric car.

Garcia was just finishing his master's in automotive engineering at Stanford University last year when he heard Agassi give a speech on campus. A few months later, he had a job at Better Place. Garcia's manner is laid-back Northern California until anything related to cars comes up, at which point he turns as intense as everyone else at Better Place.

Garcia reaches into the Mè9gane and pushes a button. Nothing happens. "It needs to be rebooted," he shouts to the owner of the shop. Garcia opens a silver box under the hood and fiddles with some buttons. "Control-Alt-Delete," jokes Better Place executive Barak Hershkovitz.

Hershkovitz oversees AutOS. He is the hard-nosed realist to Agassi's dreamer, the Scotty to his Kirk. That means Hershkovitz, even when he's joking, comes off hangdog—he knows that deadlines are looming.

Hershkovitz was about to start a residency in ophthalmology when he teamed up with Agassi in 1998. He was a brilliant, self-taught programmer, and what started as a bit of moonlighting quickly turned into a full-time job, first at one of the Agassi family companies, then at SAP. He quit soon after Agassi left, and now, with a staff of six, he's building AutOS.

The system reboots, and Garcia taps a blank spot on the dashboard to show where the car's AutOS-powered LCD will go. The garage's owner gets behind the wheel. I take the passenger seat, Garcia and Hershkovitz climb in back, and we head toward the highway. As we accelerate, I'm pinned uncomfortably to my seat. Unlike a traditional engine, an electric motor produces all of its power right away. (Recently, Ofer, whose $130 million investment made him chair of the board, took the prototype for a spin. Garcia and others watched in horror as Ofer's sharp steering, combined with the instant torque, caused an axle to snap.)

I keep waiting for the shift to another gear—the jerk that signals it's time to breathe again. "A normal gas engine spins at 6,000 rpm," Garcia says, noticing my surprise. "This motor can spin up to 12,000 rpm," which means there's no need to change gears. "You don't have the normal car problem where you need first gear to get off the line. We just took the original transmission and stuck it permanently in second."

As we approach a stop sign, the car feels like it's being held back by a rubber band. The tug, Hershkovitz explains, comes from what's called regeneration. "When you take your foot off the pedal, the car has kinetic energy," he says. "The motor starts charging the battery, turning the kinetic energy back to electric energy." He starts running through possible ways to turn the physics into a game: He wants Better Place users to be able to go to a Web site and see which drivers have racked up the most "regen." Maybe they'll win prizes.

Garcia decides to argue the point. "If you're regening, it means you used too much energy in the first place!" Meaning drivers should just take their foot off the accelerator sooner.

"Ah, you are not a computer. It's not like you can calculate how much energy you need to get to that red light," Hershkovitz says.

"Every time you do regen, there's a loss—it's not like you get it all back," protests Garcia. "The perfect driver would cruise around without ever using regen or the brakes. When they came to their destination, they would coast to a stop."

Hershkovitz ignores him. "Come on, let's go," he says as we pull back into the 4x4 shop. He has an appointment with a Japanese team from NEC to talk batteries. I follow him into his rented Mazda5 and find my body relaxing to the familiar shifts and jerks of the internal combustion engine.

The initial deal with Israel was, thanks to Agassi's connections, practically foreordained. The real test would be signing up a second country—a "validator," to use Agassi's term. In March, he got one. Denmark is everything Israel is not: a cold climate (which is hard on batteries), a net exporter of oil, a nation friendly with its neighbors. Agassi had no ties to the government. But he had a business model that proved irresistible to a Danish company called DONG Energy.

For DONG, Denmark's largest utility, Better Place offers an opportunity to solve one of its biggest problems: the economies of wind power. DONG makes a higher portion of energy from wind—18 percent—than any other power company in the world. Danish politicians want to see that figure doubled, which is good and green but completely impractical: Some days the wind blows, and some days it doesn't. Banking wind energy is expensive and inefficient—DONG would have to buy fields of batteries. Rather than lose it, the company ends up giving away excess power to Germany and Sweden. So when DONG CEO Anders Eldrup met with Agassi, he immediately saw that Better Place would not only appeal to his countrymen's environmental leanings, but the cars would also be a cheap, distributed way to store excess wind power. After the partnership was announced, Eldrup went for a haircut and found himself bombarded with questions about Better Place. His longtime barber had never once asked about Eldrup's business. Before the Better Place announcement, the man explained, he'd never really cared.

Better Place did seem to sell itself. That's what Agassi was discovering. The day of the Denmark announcement, he received a text message from an executive at a carmaker outside of the US. (He declines to name the company.)

"What's going on in Denmark?" it read.

Agassi, a bit confused, wrote back that he had just announced country two.

"What's the announcement?"

Agassi typed: "Zero percent tax on our cars, DONG as a partner."

The next day he got another text message: "But there was already 0 percent tax on alternative energy cars in Denmark."

Agassi sent back a long missive explaining that because of Better Place, Denmark was talking about expanding its tax break beyond the current 2012 cutoff date; that DONG was promising that it could supply 100 percent clean energy for all Better Place cars; that he's raising an additional$160 million for Denmark alone; and that Renault intended to supply all the cars Denmark could buy. He finished the message with some barbed advice: "I'll be offering $20,000 cars in a market where you're selling $60,000 cars. How many have you planned to sell in 2011 in Denmark? Because I recommend you take them off your plan."

The next day, Agassi was invited to a meeting with the automaker's CEO.

"I have a strong feeling this is where the industry is going to go," says Rod Lache, an auto analyst at Deutsche Bank. In March, Lache crunched the numbers for his clients on what Better Place might do to their portfolio of auto holdings. He figured a typical driver in the US gets 20 mpg. With gas at $4 per gallon, a driver who clocked 15,000 miles per year would have an annual gas bill of $3,000. The equivalent cost of electricity and battery depreciation—Better Place's cost to fill up its customers' cars, in other words—would be about $1,050. If Agassi had cheaper cars (thanks to tax breaks or incentives) and offered monthly plans that were lower than or equal to what consumers were paying at the pump, this would be phenomenally attractive. "Frankly," Lache wrote, "we are not aware of any reason why [automakers] would not sign up for this."

Early this summer, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche told a German newspaper that his company would have an electric Mercedes and an electric Smart car on the market by 2010. When asked about the cost, he said it really depended on whether the batteries came with the car or were leased. No one had thought about separating the battery from the car before Agassi; now CEOs like Zetsche were treating it as standard electric-car business practice. And yes, Zetche confirmed, Daimler is talking to Better Place.

It's a warm mid-March morning in Washington, DC. Agassi has just flown in from San Francisco on the red-eye. He was booked in business class but ended up in coach, sleeping across three seats. His ever-present uniform—dark suit, white shirt—looks slightly rumpled. For years, Agassi has traveled almost constantly, and the irony of fighting planetary destruction while clocking countless hours of carbon-spewing jet travel isn't lost on him. "I have so many sins to pay on my climate bill right now that we hope this works really fast," he says.

If Better Place is to live up to Agassi's revolutionary goal, it will eventually have to win over Americans, the world's largest per-capita polluters. But that won't be easy.

He starts the day off with a speech at a conference organized by a left-leaning think tank. Speaking without notes, Agassi roams the stage, preaching the inevitability of his plan. He has a way of describing things that is never zero-sum; everybody wins in his version of the future, even when he's selling massive disruption.

"For the car companies, we made it simple," he says. "We separated the ownership of the car and the ownership of the battery. See, car companies don't know how to assess the life of the battery. So they go through these complicated programs of testing them for a long period of time. And we told the car company, you know what? Just like you don't sell a car with a card that says 'Here is oil for the life of the car,' you don't sell cars with the batteries for the life of the car, because the battery is crude oil." He explains that his plan alone, once scaled up, could produce a 20 percent drop in the world's CO2 emissions. And he wasn't stopping there. "If we also buy clean generation, we reduce the price of clean electrons so that at the end of 10 years, clean electrons are cheaper than coal-based electrons, and nobody builds another coal plant at that point. That's another 40 percent of CO2 emissions; that's the treaty Tony Blair is now working to get for the world by 2050. I'm telling you, we can get there a decade after we finish the car side. We can get there in 2030—60 percent reduction in our CO2 emissions."

After every speech—or just in the course of everyday business—one or two people ask Agassi for jobs. Michael Granoff, the venture capitalist who was Better Place's earliest investor, now works for Agassi as head of oil independence policies. ("I joke that 29 days a month Shai's my boss, and one day a month"—when Agassi briefs investors—"I'm his," Granoff says.) Today in DC, a young man from the Boston Consulting Group corners Agassi on his way out of the Hilton conference room and hands over his résumé. Granoff, who has organized Agassi's day, waits until the man is out of earshot and reminds Agassi that the same guy made the same request after a speech in Boston. Agassi has a groupie.

Outside the hotel, Granoff and Agassi jump into a hybrid Lexus SUV and head to Capitol Hill for a series of meetings. In the office of a New York House Democrat named Steve Israel, Agassi settles into a leather couch and makes a direct pitch. "Whoever is number 44," meaning the next president, "will transfer $2 trillion to $3 trillion out of the economy"—the amount America will spend on foreign oil in his first term. This is a line Agassi has been testing lately, and Israel seems to bite. "So what do we do?" asks the legislator. Agassi lays it out: He wants tax hikes on gas-powered cars. Israel tells him that will never fly. As Agassi discusses other possible incentives, Israel interrupts him: "We don't make batteries, so aren't we going to swap out foreign-oil dependence for foreign-battery reliance?" It's a strange theory, but Agassi doesn't blink. The conversation suddenly shifts to the best way to set up a battery-manufacturing center in the congressman's Long Island district.

Israel is late for a vote, so everyone hustles off toward the Capitol. As Israel veers away toward the House floor, Agassi enters an elevator followed by Kansas senator Sam Brownback. Granoff, who seems to know everyone in DC, introduces the two and quickly explains Better Place. Brownback asks if he can buy one of Agassi's cars. "One problem: We need the infrastructure first," Agassi says. "That's what we're building."

"All you need is a plug, right? Why would you need an infrastructure?" asks Brownback, who towers over Agassi.

Agassi pulls out his BlackBerry: "We're like AT&T, not Nokia," he says. But the cell phone analogy doesn't click here.

"So you're like a long extension cord?" asks Brownback, and everyone laughs politely. Agassi starts to explain, but the senator steps out. Granoff promises that he'll bring the two men together soon for a more substantial discussion.

The rest of the day proves equally unsatisfying. One senator cancels at the last minute; another offers little but good wishes. In nearly every meeting, insiders ruefully give the same advice. Getting anything like the deal he has in Israel is going to be impossible.

Washington was a bust, but there are other ways to conquer America. Agassi has already been contacted by the mayor of Los Angeles and politicians in Michigan and New York City. San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom was in Agassi's Young Global Leaders class. "My proposal was about health care or something in San Francisco," Newsom says sheepishly. He traveled to Israel to meet with Better Place in May. But Agassi is wary. For one thing, San Francisco is hardly an island, and as leader of a municipality, Newsom has few tax levers he can pull to make the electric car affordable. That hasn't kept the mayor from combing through statutes for fees the city might lift. "This is the irony: The city is working harder to get their business than the business itself. Shouldn't he be sucking up to San Francisco?" Newsom asks, only half joking.

But there is a natural place to start in the US. The island state, Hawaii, depends on shipped-in oil; a full 14 percent of the state's annual $62 billion gross domestic product goes to oil producers, more than any state in the nation. After Israel announced its Better Place plans in January, Hawaii governor Linda Lingle asked for a meeting.

This spring, Agassi went to Honolulu. The governor ushered him into her grand koa-wood-paneled conference room. She sat at the head of the table, flanked by cabinet members. Agassi showed them how the model worked, how it would roll out, how unstoppable it would be. The governor's people wanted to know why this wasn't just shifting the environmental burden to the electric utility. Agassi said he'd pay a premium to buy energy made only from renewable sources, making it cost-effective for the utility to put in wind farms or solar-powered plants—something Lingle has been pushing for. The tourism and economic development director was impressed, but one thing bothered him: Consumers want choices. "This is Hawaii," he said. "Where are the convertibles?"

At a larger meeting a few weeks later, one of Agassi's lieutenants made the case to dozens of Hawaii's business and political leaders. Like others, Dave Rolf was intrigued. He represents the state's auto dealers, a powerful lobby in the state capitol that's against anything that cuts into car dealer profits. The meeting lasted eight hours, and Rolf left stunned. Not only was this going to happen, he decided, it needed to happen, and Hawaii was the perfect place. He fired off a letter to GM's regional head in California urging the carmaker to pay attention. The auto industry needed to be part of this from the get-go. They needed to be making electric cars. "This is kind of a world-changer," Rolf says.

A few months ago, I stopped by Agassi's Palo Alto headquarters to sit in on a three-day strategy meeting. The company has just moved in, and the walls are still decorated with motivational posters put up by the previous tenant. Empty cubicles are waiting to be filled.

The entire staff is trying to write a mission statement with help from a moderator. He flips through slides on a screen: "Our mission is to transform personal mobility." "Our mission is to break the world's oil addiction (before it breaks us)."

Agassi, in a black leather jacket, a stiff blue-and-white button-down, and faded jeans, stops the moderator. "We still think we're selling to them," he says, after one of his long, drawn-out pauses. "We're not. It's not us to them. It's them to us. You see, people want this to happen; we just happen to be in the way of their getting what they want. We can't give them the car fast enough. That's something we need to capture: 'We're here to serve you,' not 'We're here to sell to you.' We're a facilitator, not the creator. This is going to be a community. We just need to get out of their way. They're going to push for policy, they're going to sell the cars, they're going to be zealots."

I start thinking about the people he has already hooked: mayors, CEOs, investors, statesmen, even car dealers. At one point, Tal had marveled to me about Shai's ability to convince you that the answers to the most challenging problems are easy and obvious. "He tells you the story, and it sounds so simple. Why don't we have it today? Why isn't it here already?"

It's true. Shai Agassi has only one car, no charging stations, and not a single customer—yet everyone who meets him already believes he can see the future.

Sunday 3 August 2008

China goes greentech

August 1, 2008
Page 1 of 2

China, the world's biggest greenhouse-gas emitter, is poised to lead world production of solar cells, wind power turbines and low-carbon energy technology.

China is already the world's largest renewable-energy producer as measured by installed generating capacity, according to a report today from the Climate Group, a coalition of companies and governments that support solutions to global warming. The country is also the world's top manufacturer of solar cells and will be the leading exporter of wind turbines by 2009.

China's position as a renewable-energy consumer and manufacturer runs counter to its ranking as one of the world's biggest polluters and the country's rapid expansion of coal-fired power generation. About 75% of China's electricity comes from coal, said Changhua Wu, China director for the Climate Group, who is based in Beijing.

''They have to do clean energy because they can't just do more and more dirty energy,'' said Michael Liebreich, chief executive officer of London-based New Energy Finance Ltd., which provides research to clean-energy investors. ''We're seeing China as being a Number 1, 2 or 3 player in lots of different sectors in this industry.''

China is closing older coal-fired power plants and replacing them with more efficient coal generators, Changhua said in a July 25 interview. While China will continue to rely on coal to fuel its rapid economic growth, state officials understand the need to transition to clean energy, she said.

The government wants to reduce the amount of energy China uses to produce each unit of economic output by 20% in two years and has told its 1,000 largest energy-consuming companies to cut their power consumption even more, according to the report.

Extreme pollution

Meantime, the government is imposing emergency traffic and industrial production restrictions to lessen pollution during this month's Olympic Games in Beijing.

Leaders ''really understand the issue,'' Changhua said. ''They know the urgency of the issue. They know the impact of the issue not only to the world but to China.''

About 16% of China's electricity came from renewable sources in 2006, led by the world's largest number of hydroelectric generators, according to the report. The nation's goal is to increase the proportion of renewable electricity to 23% by 2020.

China invested over $US12 billion ($12.75 billion) in renewable energy in 2007, second only to Germany. The nation needs to invest another $US398 billion to reach its 2020 renewable energy goals, an average of $US33 billion a year, the report said.

Getting things done

''The system in China compared to many other countries seems to be more effective,'' Changhua said. ''Basically, if the top leadership in Beijing decides to drive this kind of effort, they really get things done.''

China, which leads the world in production of solar photovoltaic technology, has doubled its output of solar panels in each of the last four years, according to the report. Suntech Power Holdings Co., based in Jiangsu, is the world's third- biggest supplier of solar cells. China's six largest solar-cell makers had a market value of over $US14 billion at the beginning of this year.

China is exporting solar panels to developed countries better able to pay the higher costs of generating electricity from the sun, Liebreich said. Domestic production of cheaper wind power is advancing, Liebreich said.

''I don't think they want to shackle themselves to high electricity costs just to develop an industry,'' Liebreich said in a July 30 interview. ''Wind is a more mature industry. There isn't the same economic penalty today to implement wind.''

Europeans, Americans

In 2007, each of China's 1.3 billion people emitted 5.1 tons of carbon, less than the 8.6 tons from each European and the 19.4 tons for each American. Last month, the world's richest countries, which are responsible for almost half the world's emissions, pledged to cut heat-trapping pollution by at least 50% by 2050.

The Group of Eight nations didn't specify how to make those reductions or provide intermediate targets. Developing nations including China said industrialized nations should commit to emissions of at least 25% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

Monday 28 July 2008

Additions to watchlist

"Renewal energy stock Geodynamics(ASX Code: GDY).It's a promising geothermal player.

"Clean coal' stocks Linc Energy(ASX Code: LNC) and White Energy(ASX Code: WEC).

Thursday 19 June 2008

DyeSol endorsed by Oekom Research.

Canberra, Australia 19 June 2008 - Leading Australian Dye Solar Cell (DSC) technology company, Dyesol Limited (ASX: DYE) has been ranked among the world’s best companies in the Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Sector by global company ratings agency, Oekom Research.

Oekom Research AG is one of the world’s leading rating agencies and provides the crucial head start in the segment of sustainable investments. Being the partner of institutional investors and financial service providers, Oekom develops innovative investment strategies that combine sustainability research with a high rate of return.

Oekom Research has awarded Dyesol a Prime Corporate Responsibility Rating, qualifying the Company as an attractive proposition for ethical and sustainable investors, many of whom see this rating as a pre-requisite for investment in the ethical and renewable energy sectors.

“This is a tremendous endorsement,” Dyesol Industries’ managing director, Mrs Sylvia Tulloch, says. “This rating, from one of the leading international and independent company rating agencies, consolidates Dyesol’s position at the forefront of the renewable energy sector and reinforces the Company’s credentials as a sound investment.”

As Dyesol rapidly expands its global footprint and ramps up manufacturing capacity, the Prime Rating could not come at a better time.

In May this year and in partnership with one of the world’s largest steel producers, Dyesol formally commenced the joint Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) sponsored project to integrate Dye Solar Cells (DSC) onto strip steel. WAG is providing funding under the SMARTCymru program and the project will be undertaken in North Wales.

Globally, there are over a billion square meters of coated steel roofs erected each year providing an unmatched opportunity for expanding the market for solar electricity generation.

DSC is the only solar technology which is being integrated into the coil coating process used to produce colour coated steel sheets. With rapidly rising energy prices, including oil now settling above the US$100/barrel mark, and global focus on climate change, the demand is expanding for buildings with lower imported energy use and a considerably reduced overall carbon footprint, not just in the U.K. and Europe, but also in the Gulf and East Asia.

Earlier this month, Dyesol signed a Heads of Agreement in (HOA) with Timo Technology (KOSDAQ: 037340) to progress joint venture discussions to develop Dyesol’s DSC technology for the consumer electronics market in Korea.

Just recently and closer to home, Dyesol met the second last milestone in the contract with Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) for the development and demonstration of light weight flexible camouflage solar panels.
“We are on track to becoming the world leader in DSC technology. In fact, in 2008 Dyesol will transition from pilot stage into full commercialisation ensuring we fully maximise the value in the Company,” Mrs Tulloch says.

For further information contact Viv Hardy at CallidusPR on +61 (0) 2 9283 4113 or on +61 (0) 411 208 951.

Note to editors

About Oekom Research

Oekom Research AG is one of the world’s leading rating agencies and provides the crucial head start in the segment of sustainable investments. Being the partner of institutional investors and financial service providers, oekom develops innovative investment strategies that combine sustainability research with a high rate of return.

The Technology – DYE SOLAR CELLS

DSC technology can best be described as ‘artificial photosynthesis’ using an electrolyte, a layer of titania (a pigment used in white paints and tooth paste) and ruthenium dye sandwiched between glass. Light striking the dye excites electrons which are absorbed by the titania to become an electric current many times stronger than that found in natural photosynthesis in plants. Compared to conventional silicon based photovoltaic technology, Dyesol’s technology has lower cost and embodied energy in manufacture, it produces electricity more efficiently even in low light conditions and can be directly incorporated into buildings by replacing conventional glass panels rather than taking up roof or extra land area.

The Company – DYESOL Limited

Dyesol is located in Queanbeyan NSW (near Canberra) and in August 2005 was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX Code ‘DYE”). Dyesol manufactures and supplies a range of Dye Solar Cell products comprising equipment, chemicals, materials, components and related services to researchers and manufacturers of DSC. The Company is playing a key role in taking this third generation solar technology out of the laboratory and into the community.