Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Electric Car

Some years ago a movie called "who killed the electric car" came out. This movie exposed the failed attempt of General Motors in their 1996 release of an electric car (the EV-1). In the movie / documentary frustrated customers (who fell in love with their test product) made extraordinary efforts to prevent GM from retrieving the car from the market.Now, 12 years later we face a different reality. Oil prices are up and the market consensus is that they will stay up. People are more "enviro-conscious". And battery technology has come a long way.Since I am writing from Israel I thought it would be appropriate to present the highest profile greentech project in this land (and perhaps one of the most ambitious greentech projects in the world). Shay Agassi is a well respected entrepreneur who was involved in the software giant SAP. He presented (and leads) this project to the Israeli government and to Renault-Nissan and "Project Better Place" was born.

This project intends to build a network to allow for electric cars to charge in public places as well as special stations to interchange batteries. Project Better Place coordinates efforts between government, car manufacturer and battery OEM to establish the first big scale market test for electric cars.

The best way to understand this innovative business model is to "hear it from the horse's mouth". Here is Shay Agassy presenting his "baby' in Washington...

It takes guts to jump into this kind of venture. I don't know if Project Better Place is going to succeed, it certainly has its great obstacles to overcome before we see concrete results.

One thing is certain, whoever allows the world to significantly reduce its oil dependency and the political and economical consequences that this implies will be paraded as a savior and a hero (for most nations).

Reporting directly from the holy land I sign out for now and say "SHALOM" !

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Two Great Proofs

Dear friends:

If you are ever going to take 17 minutes to watch a video on the internet, I encourage you to see this one. It is the most compelling call to embrace greentech and a view into the potential business oportunity that it represents.

If you have problems starting the video go to this link http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/john_doerr_sees_salvation_and_profit_in_greentech.html

The other interesting piece of information is an article I found on the main page of Yahoo! this very morning. While 99.9% of the news about the economy are grim, this is what Yahoo! jobs reports:


Are you convinced yet!?

As always I say SHALOM !

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Greentech Wave

If you open any major newspaper on any given day you will find the signs of the Greentech Wave. Let's take today's NY Times as an example.

On the main section of the newspaper there are two advertisements, one full page each.

The first one is for Sharp Solar Systems, in which Sharp claims to be responsible for 1/4 of the solar world production. I believe six months ago this same advertisement space was used to promote Sharp's flat panel TVs!.

The other advertisement is from The Pickens Plan. This is a very famous Texas Oil Entrepreneur who established a fund with $4 billion under management and is proposing a 10 year roadmap to replace one third of foreign oil imports with local wind energy and natural gas.

Today's NY Times also has two very telling articles. It is important to note that both articles are in the Business section (not under technology, or science).

The first one is entitled "Europeans Reconsider Biofuel Goal" and talks about the disadvantages of biofuels and how this alternative may be contributing to deforestation, which speeds climate change, and helping force up food prices.

The other article talks about a "Large Solar Energy Array Set for G.M. in Spain". It announces the installation of the largest rooftop array of solar panels which will generate 12 megawatts of power.

So? you say. Why should we consider this important?.

I believe this are the signs of a major trend. This trend is reflected at several arenas.

(1) People are concerned on a personal level. A growing number of people are considering a change in their consumption habits in order to respond to the growing cost of fuels or just because they became more environmentally aware. Therefore, you have a waiting list of 3 months to buy a Toyota Prius (the most fuel efficient car in the market today).

(2) Companies are shifting their image and channeling resources to greentech. No major company is willing to risk the possibility of being left behind in this new market. Same as Sharp is boosting their solar business, GE is very concerned to stay on top of any and all developments in energy generation to keep their lead. Even the traditional oil companies are making big noise about their greentech efforts. Take BP Oil as an example, they say in their website that "BP Alternative Energy is giving the world a choice of low-carbon power solutions"

(3) Major economic players are creating their vehicles to jump into the greentech wave. Like Mr. Pickens there are other major players looking for opportunities. Sir Richard Branson the famous serial entrepreneur has launched Virgin Green Fund. If this efforts are intended to help "mother earth" or they are purely business opportunities is impossible to tell, the end result is the same: a major wave is being created.

Conclusion: I see a major change that will create a whole new industry. Like in the early stages of Internet there are several players that will be filtered out. But, overall the field is green (in both senses) and the crop is yet to be harvested. Those who jump into this trend early enough will have the better chances to profit from its energy. Finally I leave you with a cordial "Shalom"

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Climate Change Summit


Breaking news!... A big Climate Change Summit took place here in Miami last Wednesday June 25 and Thursday the 26th. This week Miami Greentech reports on the Summit...

I am happy to report that the Green wave is growing stronger by the day, it was an impossible task to register for this event two weeks in advance. Even if you had contacts in the Florida government there simply was no way to get registered!

To start, we have to clarify that this summit is an initiative from the Florida's Governor Charlie Christ's Office, as such it had it's load of political content. But, overall it was an eye opener. I saw things about the state's green industry that I never expected to see.

So, who was there and what was the content?

The summit was comprised of three components (1) an exhibitors floor with around fifty different stands (2) a series of talks about different aspects of climate change with one moderator and four panelists each and (3) breakfast, lunch and dinner banquets with a key note speaker each. If you need to have the exact information this is the link to the AGENDA

(1) Exhibitors. Some non-profit organizations where there (such as the Environmental Defense Fund), as well as attorney's firms (trying to position themselves as greentech specialists), some consulates (for political reasons I suppose), all the Florida major Universities (FSU, FIU, FAU, UF, UCF, USF), and a very interesting group of Greentech companies, many of which (I am happy to report) are based in Florida! Companies such as Blue Earth Solutions (styrofoam recycling), Carbon Solution America (carbon consulting firm), and Volcano Energy Group (energy optimization products); Big companies such as FPL, Chevron and GE were also part of the mix.

(2) Talks. Some were a waste of time (from a business perspective), like the one entitled "Preserving God’s Creation" with a panel conformed of two reverends and one rabbi. Some, on the other hand, were extremely interesting. There was "Going Green Makes Economic Sense" part 1 and 2, in which panelists came from businesses such as Mitsubishi, Honeywell, IBM, Kyocera and Wachovia and the conversation was about the different ways each player was getting into the green industry. Also on the panel where representatives from Greentech companies. we heard about Solarsa a Florida based company that focuses on "solar cooling", and about T3 Motion, a company that developed an electric personal vehicle that has zero gas emissions used mainly for law enforcement (and perhaps soon to be used here in South Florida).

The highlight of these talks was the "International Leadership Roundtable" where the governor himself was a panelist together with the consul general of UK, Israel, France and Japan, as well as a parliament member from Germany who is an eminence in solar power (and could not stop talking). Each country was very proud to mention how they are "world leaders" in Greentech. Germany and Spain are leading in solar power generation, the UK is tapping into extracting energy from ocean waves and currents, France is lagging behind in comparison to Europe but was glad to point they are ahead of the US and Japan is even implementing different dress codes for summer and winter while setting the temperature in government buildings to 82o in summer to save on energy spending for a/c (to learn more click here). Last, but certainly not least Israel is leading in technology development with more brain power than any other country per capita, as well as leading in water initiatives (they have the biggest desalination plant in the world, and are number one in recycling water at 75% with a far second Spain with 12%).

(3) Keynote Speakers. The CEO of FPL Lew Hay spoke very poorly and it was easy to catch that he was reading his speech for the first time while addressing the audience. We heard from Ray Anderson Founder of Interface Inc. the world largest manufacturer of carpet based in Atlanta, Georgia and how they are aiming to become carbon neutral in 2020 (to learn more click here). And the big ending with the "governator" Arnold Schwarzenegger who did his Hollywood style speech with humor and politics but little content.

Overall the experience was interesting and I am looking forward to next year's event to get a sense of the growth that this wave achieves in 365 days

For now I say... SHALOM!

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