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Open Energy Revenue May Increase 10-Fold, Chief Says
(Updates with closing share price in 16th paragraph.)
By Kelly Riddell
March 19 (Bloomberg) -- Open Energy Corp., a maker of solar roofing tiles, may increase its monthly sales 10-fold by the end of this year as it expands production and begins shipments internationally, Chief Executive Officer David Saltman said.
In May 2007, Open Energy entered into a partnership with Suntech America, a subsidiary of Suntech Power Holdings Co., China's largest maker of solar-power modules, to ramp up its monthly tile production to 20,000 from 2,000.
``We really think that this is one of the white spaces in solar, that it's going to go through tremendous growth, and we're staking our careers on it,'' Saltman said in an interview from the company's headquarters in Solana Beach, California.
Last year, all of Open Energy's $4.29 million in sales was in the U.S. The tiles sell at $170 each, Saltman said, and if the company meets his goal of 20,000 a month, annual sales could reach $40.8 million.
``We absolutely do not feel that we're market-constrained in terms of our ability to grow,'' Saltman said.
Open Energy develops and manufacturers solar cells that are integrated into homes as either roofing or glass. Traditional solar systems require panels to be bolted onto a rooftop as an appendage.
Solar photovoltaics will expand from a $20.3 billion industry in 2007 to $74 billion by 2017, according to Clean Edge, a Portland, Oregon-based research and publishing firm. Saltman estimates that integrated photovoltaics, such as Open Energy's colored roofing tiles, will represent less than 50 percent of that market, with a higher growth rate.
Solar Houses Outsell Others
In California, houses with solar power are selling at a rate of about 4 to 1 over those without, Jim Peterson, chief executive officer of roofing provider Peterson Dean said yesterday in an interview from Newark, California.
Peterson has agreed to buy $2.3 million of Open Energy's solar tiles and views the contract as the ``beginning of a working relationship,'' Peterson said.
The amount of power represented by newly installed solar units in the U.S. more than doubled from 2006 to 2007, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, a Washington-based trade group for solar-energy businesses.
Open Energy has teamed with San Diego-based John DeWald & Associates to build 47 condominiums in Encinitas, California.
John DeWald, the real estate investment group's owner, said the companies are building two similar developments in California and Chicago.
Open Energy plans to finance the installation and maintenance of the solar systems in those communities and, in exchange, will set up meters to charge residents for the energy they use. The cost to homeowners will be equal to or less than the prevailing utility bills in those areas, Saltman said.
Saltman aims to have 40,000 meters under contract within the next five years.
The costs of installing and monitoring a solar-energy system begin at $25,000 a home and may be higher depending on the size of the house and the amount of power it generates. With many systems, homeowners don't recoup their initial investment for at least 10 years, so builders find it discouraging to build solar- powered houses in areas without government subsidies.
Adding the solar rooftops to new houses will provide ``ongoing revenue streams,'' Saltman said. ``The homeowner will get to save on their utility bills and get the full benefit of the value of that system when they go to resell their place''
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