Electrovaya shares rocket as battery JV revealed in India

Toronto-based Electrovaya Inc., a maker of advanced lithium superpolymer batteries for electric vehicles and other applications, has struggled to compete for financing and attention in a market where rival, better-funded companies such as A123 Systems have captured the love of cleantech watchers eager to see an electric-vehicle revolution unfold, starting with plug-in hybrids. Despite its financial woes, Electrovaya does have a competitive technology. So investors were understandably revved up after reading the announcement that the company is establishing a joint-venture with Electrotherm, the leading manufacturer of electric vehicles in India. The two companies plan to build a manufacturing plant in India capable of producing 10-megawatt-hours per month of battery storage. Electrovaya, while taking an equity position in the joint venture, will get payment for the use of its battery technology and a royalty payment down the road based on plant output. An added bonus is that Electrovaya would have the exclusive right to export the batteries manufactured in the plant to other countries, for example, China.

Now, caution, caution, caution. This is a penny-stock company with falling year-over-year revenues announcing a “non-binding memorandum of understanding,” meaning nothing in this deal is solid beyond a handshake. It’s encouraging, but anything could happen and it’s difficult from our comfortable desks in North America to monitor the status of this development. That said, investors liked the news, which sent Electrovaya’s share price skyrocketing by 54 per cent today — from 28 cents to 43 cents on the Toronto Stock Exchange. And the fact is, Electrovaya’s technology — which the company claims has five times the energy density of lead-acid batteries and less than one-third the weight — is being tested by a variety of potential buyers.

Hell, if the company can’t get respect in North America good on them for milking connections in India. Let’s hope this is a real deal with promising results down the line, not a vapor announcement meant to boost a money-losing company’s lagging share price and make a few people richer in the process.

Heat-recovery tech for drains hits Home Depot

A small Waterloo, Ontario-based company called RenewABILITY Energy Inc. has convinced Home Depot Canada to carry its drain heat-recovery systems for sale on its Web site. The company’s Power-Pipe technology is basically copper tubing that wraps around a residential drain pipe. Cold water is pumped through the tubing and captures the heat from drain water after it comes out taps, dishwashers, washing machines, etc…. The warmed up water from the tube is then sent to the residential hot water tank, which doesn’t have to burn as much natural gas or use as much electricity now because the water has been pre-heated by several degrees. It’s a simple system, sold in a variety of designs by a number of different companies, that should be required in every home. The company claims the system will pay for itself in two to five years, it can be used in new and old homes, and it can reduce home energy consumption by 5 to 10 per cent. Not bad when you consider the hot water portion only accounts for 20 to 30 per cent of total home energy use.

The Power-Pipe comes in three models — 36-inch, 48-inch and 60-inch long tube models ranging from $600 to $1,000 (Canadian) and including the cost of installation. Just type in “Power-Pipe” in the HomeDepot.ca search engine. “The typical 60-inch Power-Pipe unit can bring you cold water temperature up from 10 degrees C to as much as 24 degrees C,” the company says.

I’m not sure about U.S. or European availability and incentives, but in Canada customers who purchase the system can also qualify for up to $300 in federal and provincial incentives. It’s good to see Home Depot giving some profile to this simple approach to achieving energy efficiency in the home.

Solar thermal as art

I’ll let the following photos speak for themselves. They were kindly sent to me by Emil Moller, a PhD researcher in the Netherlands, who had a chance to visit the Solucar 11-megawatt solar tower (or solar thermal plant) outside of Seville, Spain. More information about the tower can be found reading this BBC online article, which also has a handy graphic that shows how the technology works. It truly strikes a heavenly pose, and shows the power of concentrating technology. Thanks Emil for sharing these photos with us. It must have been a sight to see in person.