Perth-based ClearVue Technologies is set to establish a presence in New York City as the solar windows company expands a broader assault on the burgeoning US market driven by the introduction of legislative changes that aim to reduce energy consumption and pollution as well as a NYC local law targeting energy-intensive large buildings.
The company’s immediate plans include opening a display showroom in the heart of the Big Apple.
ClearVue CEO, North America, Basil Karampelas, in Perth this week for the company’s AGM, said it was likely the showroom in New York would be open by the New Year.
“I anticipate looking for space in mid-December and opening the showroom by New Year’s. We’re getting so much traction in New York,” Karampelas says.
ClearVue already has an office in San Jose, California. The decision to open a NYC showroom has been prompted by two main drivers: the US federal Inflation Reduction Act and a new law soon to come into force in New York City that will demand better energy efficiency in the city’s largest buildings.
The federal act was signed into law by US President Joe Biden in August and authorises the expenditure of almost US$400 billion on energy and climate change. It is projected to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 40 per cent by 2030.
The figure includes US$14 billion for home energy efficiency where ClearVue sees a perfect opportunity for its products.
ClearVue’s technology includes a thin transparent film that sits between double or triple-glazed glass with solar photovoltaic or “PV” cells located around the edges of the integrated glazing units. The film absorbs the sun’s ultraviolet radiation and infrared light and redirects it to the PV cells that convert the energy into electricity – whilst still allowing 70 per cent of visible light to pass through the windows.
The NYC-specific legislation providing the pathway for ClearVue’s expanded push into the US market, known as Local Law 97, comes into effect on 1 January 2024 and aims to force owners of big buildings to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Most buildings in NYC greater than 25,000 square feet, or about 2,300 square metres, will be required to meet new energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions limits by that date – with even stricter limits coming into force in 2030.
Buildings account for approximately two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions in NYC and Local Law 97 aims to cut the emissions produced by the city’s largest buildings by 40 per cent by 2030 and 80 per cent by 2050.
We are uniquely placed as the only company that has a commercially available fully transparent power-generating window to have a solution for high-rise buildings that do not have the roof area for substantial rooftop PV solar installations. Instead, we have the opportunity to provide that around the entire building.
ClearVue’s solar windows prevent excess heat and unwanted solar radiation whilst simultaneously retaining transparency and aesthetics – and creating renewable energy.
The potential for ClearVue’s products is enormous with an estimated US$120 billion of window glass installed annually in North America.
The segment of that industry that the company inhabits – building-integrated photovoltaics – is expected to grow rapidly as environmental concerns take centre stage globally.
Market research company Technavio in April estimated the solar windows market would surge in the five years to 2026 by US$781 million at a compound annual growth rate of 21.8 per cent. Some 45 per cent of this growth would originate in the USA, Technavio added.
ClearVue plans on capitalising on this surge in demand and in July signed an agreement for the manufacture and distribution of its products with Florida-based Advanced Impact Technologies which has more than four decades of experience in advanced glass and polymer products.
Karampelas has also racked up an impressive log of experience including 25 years in the renewable and traditional energy sectors – both in-company roles including those of CFO and CEO and as a private equity operating partner.
After obtaining an MBA from the prestigious Stanford University he refined his skills as an energy sector investment banker at Salomon Brothers and Wasserstein Perell. He also co-founded BP USA Energy Financial Services where he led investments in energy and renewables projects.
Karampelas says his career has enabled him to build an extensive network of relationships that spans investment firms, government agencies, multinational energy companies, utilities and manufacturing companies.
It was one such connection that led to an invitation for ClearVue to display its technology in November at a prestigious forum of America’s elite business chiefs – the so-called “C-suite executives” – organized by EY.
About 1,000 C-suite executives from EY’s top client list attended the company’s Strategic Growth Forum at Palm Springs, California and its adjacent “Innovation Experience” exhibition where select companies in health care, food and energy sectors among others displayed their innovations.
Karampelas says ClearVue was only one of a handful of companies in the energy space and it made for a fruitful three days.
“We have a staggering number of leads come out of that forum and we’re in the process of qualifying those leads,” he reports.
Even more important was the fact no executive he spoke with at Palm Springs said they were aware of another company that had products with similar technology to ClearVue’s, he says.
“They were amazed and blown away when I showed them they were commercially available already.”
“That confirmed to me we have the only commercially available product with this type of technology and what I want to do now is capitalise on the advantage that we have.”
We are likely to be at least two years ahead of anyone else in commercialising this technology and I want us to use that lead to become synonymous with solar glass the way that Kleenex is synonymous with tissues and Xerox is with photocopiers.
With a confluence of events such as growing ESG awareness and American laws aimed at reducing greenhouse emissions, the stage seems set in the US for a company like ClearVue.
“I’ve never been this excited about working in a company in decades,” its CEO for North America enthuses.
However, he cautions that sustainable success takes time – especially in the building industry where ClearVue operates. While it is amazing that the company’s technology has been developed in Western Australia, investors have to realise that it often takes longer than the resources or oil and gas sector for success to be achieved, he adds.
“Investors need to realise we’re an energy infrastructure play and the story’s going to resonate with a different type of investors as it takes time,’ he points out.
“We’re in it for the long haul. We’ve got a technology that is going to be a game-changer, not for years but for decades.”
Is your ASX-listed company doing something interesting? Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org