20 December 2006


Interview with Tom Abeles; CEO Sagacity Inc.

Could you please introduce yourself and tell us some more about your personal background?
I have worked for over 30 years with entrepreneurs, developers, investment bankers and policy analysts providing technical and financial consulting for new products, services and projects in the renewable energy and environmental area.

Please introduce your company, tell us briefly about its history, main activities and key products.
Sagacity Inc has a focus in the biomass and solar thermal/PV arena as well as sustainable agriculture and forestry areas. It has developed projects in biomass combustion, thermal gasification and anaerobic digestion areas as well as energy-efficient buildings. It has provided technical support and consultation in the solar thermal and PV arena.

What are the ambitions of your company for the coming 3 years in terms of markets and volumes?
We Sagacity is in the process of developing clean water projects in the Caribbean and Latin America as well as solar PV for end users as well as grid connection. It is also developing small wind projects in the area.

What is your opinion about the current PV market situation in your country?
Our market focus is outside our home base of the United States, primarily in the Caribbean and Latin America. This latter market is underdeveloped even where high electrical costs make PV and renewable energy systems attractive.

If you were looking for international cooperation, which kinds of business partners would you be specially interested in?
We are interested in working with developers and the investment banking community as well as technology suppliers interested in underserved markets.

Which issues or developments are you specially interested in?
Our immediate interests are in seeing the regulatory climate outside Europe and North America improving and encouraging renewables in a permanent, rather than spot or short-term, manner. We are also interested in break-through technologies in the water and renewable energy arenas, particularly where it meets the needs of underserved markets.

What will help your company grow even faster?
We are actively seeking partners with marketing and technical capabilities in the Caribbean and Latin American markets

What market development has surprised you the most in recent years?
The rapid rise of the Chinese PV industry and interest in all alternative energy systems for both internal and export markets.

What do you see as the major challenges in the PV market?
The major challenges of the PV industry are getting emerging alternatives to silicon to market and getting the cost per peak watt down.

What do you consider as the biggest failures or mistakes made in the solar industry?
Silicon has been the material of choice and the industry has pushed for subsidies which could only incrementally improve these by both volume and design. Alternatives have been lagging because of the embedded silicon infrastructure.

What are your expectations for the global PV market in the next 5 years?
The global PV market will continue to grow as new silicon capacity expands and the market continues to be subsidised in Europe and North America. The big move will happen when some of the leading-edge technologies prove to be viable and cost effective.

What do you consider to be winning companies and technologies for the future?
Technologies such as nanosolar and other methods for producing lower cost, reliable alternatives to silicon will push the market forward. New storage technologies such as VRB's Vanadium Redox Batteries will also contribute.

Thank you for the interview.

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