WorldWater & Solar has had an interesting 12 months. A year ago it looked as if the company was bound for Texas as the result of a $44 million deal with Fort Worth-based solar firm Entech. WorldWater founder and CEO Quentin Kelly, had resigned the year prior, and his company’s ThermaVolt thermal and electrical energy generating system was hailed as Entech’s great new product.
Barely three months later Kelly, a charismatic Irishman who had been a top executive at GE before starting WorldWater in 1984, had a change of heart. In April he bought back the WorldWater name for an undisclosed amount and re-established the company in its original offices in Pennington. According to WorldWater spokeswoman Melissa Burns, Kelly’s interest in developing the Mobile Max solar power and water filtration system led to his re-purchase of WorldWaterSolar.
Mobile Max is designed as a portable solar panel power generator that can be used to purify brackish water and seawater as quickly as 30 minutes after setup. The system got much recognition in the days following the earthquake in Haiti, where Mobile Max became the de facto — and for a time only — water purification system in Port au Prince. According to WorldWater the system has been supplying more than 100,000 liters of purified water to the city daily.
The firm’s first major client after re-establishing itself was the U.S. Army, which ordered 25 units for Iraq. The systems purify water from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. There are similar setups in Darfur, Sudan, and Ethiopia.
Kelly originally had started his company after a trip to Africa, where he saw thousands dying of thirst despite the fact that there was water not far under the ground. WorldWater’s first product was a simple solar-powered pump to provide water to people in remote locations in developing countries.
Since its rebirth the company has moved out of Pennington. In September it became the first — and is still the only — tenant of the Technology Center of Princeton on Carter Road. WorldWater occupies 4,400 square feet at the “Farmhouse,” one of two buildings on the 192-acre center grounds.
The Technology Center of Princeton was envisioned by BPG Development Company of Yardley, Pennsylvania, as a reinvigorated office and research and development campus, originally developed by Western Electric in the 1950s. BPG finished the project in 2005, which offers 242,000 square feet of space in both buildings. According to NAI Fennelly commercial real estate firm in Hamilton, asking rents for the center are $25.50 per square foot.
Jerry Fennelly said his firm is still looking for tenants and that no others are in the pipeline. Until WorldWater moved in the site had sat vacant for several years. Fennelly said there are 215,000 square feet of available space in the main building, where a company could rent as few as 10,000 square feet. There are 20,000 square feet available in the Farmhouse, where a company can lease as few as 4,000 square feet.
“It’s hard to fill office space, period,” Fennelly said. “Office space is related to employment. If we start seeing growth in employment numbers, we’ll be able to lease out more space.”
#b#WorldWater & Solar Technology Inc#/b#., 330 Carter Road, Princeton 08540; 609-356-0372; fax, 609-356-0449. Quentin Kelly, president and CEO. Home page: www.worldwatersolar.com.