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06/26/2009 12:00 PM     print story email story  

Weekly Investor Round Up News

Numerous big news items this week:

The Obama Administration announced $8 billion in loans to Ford (NYSE: F), Nissan (7201.T) and Tesla Motors to build and update factories for the production of next-generation, efficient vehicles. Ford received the lion's share of $5.9 billion to transform factories across Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio to produce 13 more fuel efficient models. Nissan North America, Inc. received $1.6 billion to retool their Smyrna, Tennessee factory to build all-electric vehicles and to build an advanced battery manufacturing facility in conjunction with NEC Corp (NIPNF.PK). And Tesla Motors will get $465 million to manufacture electric drive trains and electric vehicles in California.

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) unvelied a beta version web application--called Hohm--that is meant to be integrated with residential smart meters and rival the PowerMeter application unveiled by Google (Nasdaq:GOOG) in February. When linked to smart meter data, the application would allow homeowners to monitor energy usage and would also provide recommendations for reducing energy. Microsoft has teamed with utilities Puget Sound Energy, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Seattle City Light and Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL), as well as smart meter companies Itron Inc. (Nasdaq: ITRI) and Landis+Gyr.

Twenty major German companies are banding together on an ambitious solar power project in the deserts of north Africa that could cost as much as EUR 400 billion. The group is expected to meet in Munich on July 13 to form an agreement to pursue concentrating solar power (CSP), capable of providing up to 15% of Europe's electricity. According to a report in the Guardian, participating companies include Siemens (NYSE: SI), Deutsche Bank (NYSE: DB), RWE (RWE.DE) and E.ON (EON.L).

GE Energy Financial Services--the lending arm of General Electric (NYSE: GE)--said it has $4 billion to spend on renewable and conventional energy projects, but that the company is waiting to learn how the U.S. government will disperse $48 billion in approved loan guarantees. Tim Howell who heads the energy business group of the financial services told Reuters that in the current environment no one's going to get approval for financing.

Japan's Nikkei business daily reported that Japanese oil distributor Showa Shell Sekyu KK (5002.T) and Saudi Aramco Oil Co. plan to collaborate on small-scale solar power projects in Saudi Arabia next year. Saudi Aramco is the state-owned oil company, and the plan is to build photovoltaic plants of 1 to 2 megawatts (MW) in areas where there is no grid-supplied power. If the projects are successful the two companies may form a joint venture to pursue similar projects in other areas of the Middle East as well as Latin America and Southeast Asia.

The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW) and Gazprom Marketing and Trading Limited have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to develop and implement greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction projects on a global basis. Gazprom Marketing & Trading Ltd. is a UK registered subsidiary of Russian energy giant Gazprom (GAZP.RTS). Gazprom is the largest Russian company and is the biggest extractor of natural gas in the world. The companies plan to work together to identify projects that could cumulatively reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions through the implementation of Dow technologies and other cooperative efforts.

GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Limited (3800.HK), an integrated green energy company in China, announced that it will acquire 100% equity interest in Jiangsu Zhongneng Polysilicon Technology Development Co., Ltd. The company is one of China's leading suppliers of polysilicon and wafers for use in the solar industry. The cash and equity deal is reportedly worth the equivalent of US$3.4 billion.

HelioSphera (formally known as Next Solar) officially inaugurated its production plant in Tripoli, Greece. The plant will produce up to 60 MW of thin-film photovoltaic panels, using Oerlikon Solar's Micromorph technology. The plant is said to be the largest of its type in Europe and construction costs of EUR 185 million investment were subsidized by the Greek government.

Tessera Solar and San Antonio municipal power compay CPS Energy signed a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) to develop a 27-MW solar project in West Texas. The project will employ more than a 1,000 of the SunCatcherTM concentrating solar systems manufactured by Tessera Solar's sister company, Stirling Energy Systems. This is the first project in Texas for Tessera Solar and adds to 1,500 MW worth of projects in California's Imperial Valley and the Mojave Desert.

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