Investment to reduce costs for Sage products
Earlier this month, Sage Electrochromics Inc. of Faribault, Minn., secured $16 million in Series B financing from several leading renewable energy companies, with provisions for additional investment of $13 million. The outside investment will help the company beef up its production of electrochromic window products, leading to reduced costs, says John Van Dine, Sage CEO and chairman of the board.
“Today, we’re just introducing the technology,” Van Dine says. “At low volumes, the costs are high. Sage glass can be produced in mass quantities and have a very affordable cost structure. This investment allows us to do just that.”
Van Dine estimates that Sage’s manufacturing and cost evolution will occur within the next five to seven years, allowing products to enter the mainstream construction market.
Lou Podbelski, vice president of marketing and sales for Sage, says demand already exists for the products. "Our technology—everyone loves it—but the price is not at the point where we're in the mainstream market," he says. "With [this investment], we will have the ability to get manufacturing facilities that will get the price down."
Renewable energy investor, Good Energies of New York, led the funding, with additional investment from Applied Ventures LLC, the venture capital arm of Applied Materials Inc. in Santa Clara, Calif., and Belgium-based Bekaert.
“Applied Ventures targets early stage companies that have significant market potential and relevance to our parent company, Applied Materials,” says J. Christopher Moran, vice president and general manager of Applied Ventures. “Sage fits our strategy since it has the innovative technology in an early-stage market with high growth potential.”
Moran compared the cost of electrochromics to early LCD screens. “The flat panel display industry has similarly lowered the cost per area of LCD screens over the years by manufacturing with increasing larger substrate sizes,” he says.
The green evolution of construction and the optimistic performance Sage products will have in energy-efficient buildings also make it a strong investment, Moran says.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, about 5 percent of all the energy consumed in the United States is lost through windows. In commercial buildings, electrochromic windows can improve performance, reducing cooling loads by 20 percent and peak electricity demand in most parts of the country by 19 percent to 26 percent, according to the DOE.
“Sage technology addresses energy conservation, perhaps the most overlooked aspect of clean energy. … [The investment] reinforces Applied’s commitment to developing clean energy solutions for improving the way people live,” Moran says.
—By Katy Devlin, e-Newsletter editor, e-glass weekly