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SMALL CAP IDEAS: Green technology firm Verditek pushes ahead with solar roof tiles

Elon Musk is so convinced solar roof tiles are the way forward he has stuck them on his house. And where the Tesla founder goes a lot of people follow.

That bodes well for Verditek, a green technology firm put together by the acquisition of three early stage businesses that started trading on Aim last month.

Like Tesla, Verditek has an arm that makes electricity-generating solar roof tiles and its chief executive Theo Chapman is a convert too.

But with the tiles designed and made by Verditek subsidiary Greenflex, you don’t have to put on a new roof, re-wire and strengthen the house, he says.

Green alternatives: Verditek's target market will primarily be the roof tiles makers and solar panel systems groups

Green alternatives: Verditek’s target market will primarily be the roof tiles makers and solar panel systems groups

Using Greenflex tiles a householder need only change 30 per cent of the roof tiles to generate enough electricity to power their property.

Greenflex puts its photovoltaic material onto laminate that is then inserted into a plastic mould, which allows a tile to be any colour.

One potential customer, for example, wants it for a Grade 2 listed building, though the target market will primarily be the roof tiles makers and solar panel systems groups.

It has a manufacturing plant is in San Marino, Italy, which will start to ramp up its production as soon as the float funds come through.

Greenflex will be the first of Verditek’s three businesses to start to generate revenues.

‘Technology investments can be risky but the aim will be try to minimise that by having three different ones, two of which are close to commercialisation,’ Chapman says.

His background is start-ups and clean technology and he and his board will maintain a close eye on all three of the businesses to keep them on track.

The company raised £2.75million ahead of its AIM listing and was valued at £16.9million at the listing price of 9p.

Verditek at a Glance

AIM ticker: VDTK

Value: £15.7million

Floated at: 9p

Current price: 8.35p

Some £260,000 of the proceeds will go to Greenflex, though the largest chunk (£750,000) is designated for carbon capture specialist Westrec with £600,000 earmarked for odour control business BBR Filtration.

BBR is likely to be the second of the trio to generate revenues, says Chapman.

Yes, odour control is controlling the smell emanating from sewage and other waste.

It’s a problem everywhere and especially in the US due to the rapid expansion of residential areas.

Waste water stations in Miami and Orlando in Florida are now trialling the technology, which Chapman says is considerably cheaper, more convenient and much easier to maintain than existing or rival systems.

Those two US cities alone have 6,000 waste water pumping stations and many operators routinely just pay fines for breaches of environmental rules, a situation that can’t continue, he believes.

BBR’s kits sell for $500,000 apiece, which may sound a lot but that is still much cheaper than the burning or biomass alternatives, which cost millions.

Once the trial currently underway in Toho (Orlando) is complete, a follow-on order for six stations is expected to be the next step.

Finally, at the earliest stage of development is Westrec, a company that is developing a new way of carbon capture to restrict greenhouse gas emission especially from petrochemical and cement plants.

At the earliest stage of development is Westrec, a company that is developing a new way of carbon capture to restrict greenhouse gas emission  from petrochemical and cement plants

At the earliest stage of development is Westrec, a company that is developing a new way of carbon capture to restrict greenhouse gas emission from petrochemical and cement plants

Founded originally to control dust from plasterboard by Geoff Nesbitt, Verditek’s chairman who is also chief technical officer of FTSE 250 oil rig fabrication group Petrofac, tests are underway with the Norwegian government to demonstrate that its technology works.

Unlike Greenflex and BBR, where the stakes are 51 per cent apiece, Verditek only owns 23 per cent of Westrec due to the unproven nature of its invention.

In all three businesses, though, the aim ultimately is for Verditek to take 100 per cent control.

‘We are an operational company not an investment company,’ Chapman insists.

Though the technologies are different, he sees potential for interaction eventually between the three – Greenflex’s tiles, for example, can provide the power for BBR’s facilities.

While early stage businesses with no revenues can be hard to value, Chapman is confident Verditek has chosen wisely.

‘We can see a route to market for all three companies, but for now we need to people in place and get the plates spinning.’