Back in August we noted that the medical diagnostics industry had invaded Southern California’s Orange County in force. Now it’s the cleantech industry that has arrived in The OC, according to a recent story in the Los Angeles Times (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-oc-green-tech-20101118,0,7259456.story) that notes there are nearly 300 cleantech firms in the county generating 20,000 jobs, making it the fastest growing segment of the economy.
Local universities like Chapman and UC Irvine, with its Center for Solar Energy and National Fuel Cell Research Center, are helping fuel the growth, according to the Times. Also, one of the nation’s most prominent cleantech investors, David Gelbaum of Quercus Trust, lives in the county (Newport Beach). In some cases smallcap companies from elsewhere in the country are opening offices in Orange County because of the recent growth.
Already established in Orange County are high profile larger companies like Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive. The majority of the new, small cleantech companies are private, including names like QuantumSphere, Quantum Technologies and FlexEnergy. But a smattering of the smaller cleantechs have already gone public.
Irvine-based Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide (Nasdaq: QTWW, http://www.qtww.com) describes itself as “an integrated alternative energy company” and its technologies include lithium ion battery systems, hybrid electric drive and control systems and hydrogen storage and metering systems. QTWW recently announced that it would begin production of a solar roof for the Fisker Karma passenger car, calling it the “largest continuous and most highly curved solar roof in a passenger car application.” The stock price has been steadily shrinking. About a year ago it traded for around $1.33 but now is languishing at about $0.50.
Elk Grove, IL-based Lime Energy (Nasdaq: LIME, http://www.lime-energy.com/), which provides energy efficiency solutions to commercial and industrial businesses, recently set up a satellite office in The OC, according to the Times. Earlier this month, Lime, which has a market cap just under $100 million, reported third quarter results that showed “consolidated revenue” of $28.1 million was up 33.7 percent over the 2009 third quarter. The stock is trading just under $4, with a 52-week range of $2.77-$5.73.
Irvine,CA, based BlueFire Renewables (OTCBB: BFRE.OB, http://www.bluefireethanol.com/), a development stage company whose refineries convert such things as agricultural residues, biomass, wood residues and cellulose from municipal sold waste (i.e. sewer plants) into ethanol. The company was founded in 2006 as BlueFire Ethanol Fuels Inc and changed its name last August. Just last Nov. 10 the company announced the receipt of the final permits for the construction of its first ethanol facility in Mississippi. BlueFire’s market cap sits at just over $14 million and the stock, currently valued at about $0.50, trades by appointment.