Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has managed to attract a third large greentech company to his state.
Kior, which says it can make synthetic petroleum from biomass, will build five commercial scale facilities in the state. Three of the five will be built in the next five years. By 2015, Kior will have created 1,000 direct and indirect jobs in the state. The company received a $75 million loan, among other assistance, from the state.
Mississippi earlier persuaded Soladigm, which makes electrochromic windows, and secretive solar maker Twin Creeks Technologies to build facilities in the state through generous loans and incentives. Interestingly, Soladigm and Kior are Khosla Ventures companies.
Barbour, by the way, is a Republican, a party on the national level which is excoriating President Obama for loans and stimulus programs directed toward alternative energy. Maybe it's not an election year for Barbour. Or maybe he's a closet Socialist. Or maybe he is concerned about job creation. We will try to get to the bottom of it. Who knows? Maybe Haley, who is actually one of the more interesting politicians in the U.S., will come out to Silicon Valley. Tony Blair, the former British PM, also works with Khosla. (Momentarily, we wrote that Twin Creeks was a Khosla Company. We were misinformed. It has received money from Crosslink and DAG, however.)
Kior CEO Fred Cannon said recently that the company is producing about 15 barrels of synthetic crude a day. That's up from a few liters per day a year ago. At commercial scale, Kior can produce oil at around $75 a barrel, he added. The process can work with a variety of feedstocks. More in this video:
On other notes,
Art Buckland--formerly an exec at concentrator company Soliant but also Texas Instruments and Fairchild--is the new CEO at Sunovia.
Sunovia is trying to break into the cadmium telluride solar cell market. First Solar remains the dominant fact of life in that market through its relentless cost-cutting (First Solar modules now cost 76 cents a watt to manufacture) and ability to steadily improve efficiency. First Solar recently broke the 11 percent efficiency mark.
Competition, however, is finally coming. General Electric will come to market next year with cad tel modules and a host of start-ups say they have technology that can compete. It will be an uphill battle for these start-ups, but you have to make a living somehow, I suppose. The company also has a line of LED lights, another fast-growing but crowded field. Start-ups with mixed and divergent product lines don't have a great history. PetroAlgae, which recently filed for a controversial IPO, emerged from a start-up think tank. Still, it's not impossible.
Finally, Ecology Coatings, which makes ultraviolet-curable coatings that result in fewer emissions, has received $2.4 million in conditional funding. It also has a version of waterproof paper.