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Off-grid Power Technology. The Future is Here…Today

Dave Jackson Dave Jackson, Stockhouse
1 Comment| September 28, 2021

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Off-grid power systems can provide electricity as an alternative to very expensive grid power transmission and distribution systems – whether in remote and rural areas, or…in urban dense cities where every foot of trenching is cost prohibitive. It also provides unparalleled resiliency for those with power outages and can help prevent operations from coming to an abrupt halt. In this exclusive and highly informative video Q&A podcast, Stockhouse Media’s Dave Jackson as joined by Miriam Tuerk, co-founder and CEO of Ontario-based Clear Blue Technologies INTL Inc. (TSX-V.CBLU, OTCQB: CBUTF, Forum), to explain her company’s cutting-edge technology and investment opportunities.

(Click image to play video)


SH: Clear Blue has had an active in the last few months. Can you walk us through some of the highlights, and how you’ve worked around the pandemic?

MT: Everybody has been impacted by the pandemic and last year we kind of lost six to nine months in terms of the delay of a number of large contracts. As we came out of that first phase of COVID and in Q4 last year, we were thrilled to be able to announce the large rollout contracts that had been as a result of two- or three-years’ worth of very hard work in a number of markets and with a number of customers. We have been thrilled to be able to announce that we are the power infrastructure for major telecommunications rollouts across Africa. If you look at the top Telco companies in the world, which would include Orange out of France, for example, Telefonica who we have done work within Peru and MTN, which is the largest telephone company across all of Africa - they are now working on setting up connectivity for 3.8 billion people in Africa that do not have access to cell and internet and we are the power supplier for a huge chunk of that.

Recent announcements include our rollout contracts with NuRAN for both Cameroon and DRC, with Parallel Wireless for another large customer in Africa, with IHS towers - IHS towers is the largest tower company. They have tens of thousands of towers in Africa, and they are rolling out thousands more. We have been selected as their power partner. That has been very exciting for us as part of that whole community. We were also, last month, able to announce our partnership with Facebook. Facebook is investing heavily in these markets, because if they have 3 billion people on Instagram and Facebook and WhatsApp, they want to go to a billion people in the place that they are going to find a billion people. Clear Blue as a clean tech company, is obviously bringing clean energy to the marketplace and solutions, but the social benefits of what we're doing in terms of bringing healthcare, education, finance systems and connectivity to these people is quite significant and we are very excited about it.

SH: Miriam, what gives Clear Blue’s technology a clear edge over the competition?...pardon the pun?

MT: Yes, well, a lot of hard work. Clear Blue was founded 10 years ago this month. We have been commercial since about 2014 and 15 and before that we were an R&D company. We use smart, predictive analytics and forecasting technologies to make off-grid power reliable. The way I like to describe it is, even if Elon Musk's Tesla technology was exactly what it is today in the 1970s, the dog would not have hunted, if it wasn't able to reliably tell you how many kilometers or miles you could drive that car before it was going to die, from a battery perspective. You do not hear about people running out of quote unquote gas in a Tesla, because they have nailed the ability to predict how much power you have and where you need to get gas.

We have taken that capability of using predictive data and predictive analytics, to do weather forecasting and energy forecasting. We can go to a customer and say, ditch the diesel generator, ditch the connection to the grid, go with a 100% solar off-grid - solar requires no maintenance, it is lights out, just sits there and we will use our remote management capability to deliver you the uptime availability of a mission critical infrastructure. I think it was about a month or two ago, we hit 10 billion transactions between our deployed systems and our cloud. That is what gives us the edge. We have more predictive data and analytics than anybody else. We have got a number of patents and a lot of R&D technology that we have put into the business, into the technology and that is what makes us a leader in the market.

SH: Clear Blue has thousands of installations across 37 countries. Do you have a focus on a specific region, and if so, why?

MT: We have currently got two verticals in our business. It has just worked out that both verticals kind of have a hot point in a region. Our North American business is smart city and streetlight infrastructure. We have got, I think 25 or 30 States and we are in nine Provinces across Canada, number of territories and as well as a project in Alaska and that business is our smart city, solar street lighting infrastructure. Our second business is telecommunications. The wave one of telecommunications has been cell phone, cell service and coverage. That has happened to be in the emerging market because they don't have telecommunications infrastructure. They don't have landlines that connect all of their cell phone towers. Therefore, they are just skipping the whole power grid infrastructure and going completely wireless telecom, and completely wireless power with us. That has turned out to be in Africa, although we are doing work in Southeast Asia, as well as in LatAm markets.

SH: You just launched a partnership with Parallel Wireless and Avanti Communications to bring telecommunication services to sub-Saharan Africa, and…have also been awarded a contract by NuRAN Wireless to power to roughly 13-hundred telecom sites in the Democratic Republic of the Congo the DRC as you mentioned earlier. Can you expand on these initiatives for our investor audience?

Click to enlargeMT: I think the first thing I want to talk a little bit about is that the telecom industry is going through a bit of a revolution. There is a set of legacy vendors, Huawei would be the one that many people have heard of, that have done a great job delivering some great things, but the Telcos identified some gaps in their vendors. There are a number of new vendors that have come to the marketplace, Parallel Wireless being one of them, NuRAN being another one, and Avanti who is a satellite company also being a big player in this marketplace. These companies have built new technologies, innovative technologies, something called Open RAN, which kind of takes the handcuffs off of the telcos in terms of what options they have. We focused very early on to solve the power problem.

You don't really think about power as being an issue from a telecom perspective, but if it is a million dollars to go and get power connected from the grid, or there is no grid, you are not going to sell any cell phone towers, because there is no power. You may not be aware, that most of Africa's telecom towers are powered by generators with diesel, which is very expensive, let alone the dirty aspect of it, just hugely expensive. That new movement of new technologies and innovations has bled into the need for new technology and innovation in the power world. We became known to these companies through our partnership with Facebook and the Telecom Infra Project. We did initial pilot projects with them. We showed them what we could deliver and our first big announcement was last fall with IHS.

The reason why I think they like us, we do a good job and we have good technology, we are ongoing service delivery people, but the number one reason why they bought our technology, was because it was only with our technology that they could make the business case work. We were able to deliver a lower upfront cost for a solar offered power system than anybody else in the market. And because we deliver it as an ongoing service and we manage, operate on a recurring revenue basis, every system we deliver. We are not just shipping stuff to African and saying, ‘there you go’, we are managing and operating the power, and make it work for them. They actually get the value out of the infrastructure they built. We are thrilled with those partnerships. We are continuing to build more partnerships with more partners and putting a lot of energy in companies in our support of companies like NuRAN and Parallel Wireless, but there are others coming. Soon, we hope we will be able to announce some other partnerships.

SH: You’ve recently announced Q2 2021 financial results, including a 138 percent revenue increase year-over-year. This may be news to many investors. Can you unpack how you achieved this kind of growth over this short period of time?

MT: It is an overnight success story, that has taken some time. As I may have mentioned to a few of you, if you have listened to me - people talk about the hockey stick growth and they forget about the blade part of the hockey sticks, we have traversed up the blade and now we are going up the stick and our revenue is growing quite significantly. It really has to do with the fact that we seeded a number of small pilot projects. The way those projects work is you get an order for five, then they say, okay, we have got it all working - and it's not just our stuff that is working - remember we are powering a telecom vendor to get their stuff working. Oftentimes the pilot is their pilot, we are just providing the power, but once they get those five, ten sites done, then they do the first rollout of 40.

We go from a $50,000 order to a $400,000 order or something like that. Then they say, okay, we have done a contract, we are going to roll out 2000 sites over the next 2, 3 years. We are going to order 400 sites every four, six months. All of a sudden you are getting a multimillion-dollar order. Those pilots and proof of concepts, we were tracking them, we have been reporting on them, we have been providing guidance to them. Then starting last Q4, multiple of those contracts has started to hit and those rollouts are happening. What I like about them is that they are not just, here is a streetlight and in 20 years, we will replace the streetlight. They grow, they start off 2G. Then they go to 3G, then to 4G, then into 5G. They start off with small capacity and then the capacity grows.

Each one of those sites is an annuity for us in terms of growing and expanding the systems. They are doing multi-year, multi-phase rollouts. We get those first orders and then we grow and that is what has really shown the uptick. As we add more partners, more distribution, and as they get out of those first rollouts and big rollouts, and they work out the kinks and they get the engine moving, we get, every quarter, we get another order for more systems and the revenue is starting to go up nicely. Which is giving us the opportunity to invest in our next big market, which we believe is going to be satellite Wi-Fi. If you are familiar with all the satellites coming online and Wi-Fi internet, there is a significant market opportunity there. There is a lot of opportunity to continue to maintain and grow our technology leadership by investing in R&D. We are taking every penny we can, putting it into product R&D and putting it into market and partner development. Every penny goes towards either sales or product development. We hope to continue moving up the hockey stick, at least that is my plan and objectives.

SH: What should investors be looking out for in the months ahead, and if you can see further, into next year?

MT: A bunch of things have been happening. We RTO’d and became a public listed company, I think in 2018. We have been slowly building our ability to provide guidance. We started talking about how many pilots we were doing. Then we started reporting our bookings. As of last quarter, we started actually providing forward-looking guidance of what our revenue would be for the next four quarters. As you would know, in the marketplace, it is all about you got to beat guidance. We announced guidance of 8 million in revenue over the next four quarters and doing everything we can to make sure that we beat that number and how far we beat that number, is where the bats are in this company. We have announced guidance to the marketplace. We are ensuring that those installations and deployments are being successful and working well and sending the follow-on orders. It is really about scaling new product development and just building out our expansion into new markets, as well as new verticals.

SH: I have to mention your stock has nearly doubled in value since over the past 12 months. What can you tell our investor audience regarding the current valuation of your stock and why to invest in Clear Blue now?

MT: If you look at the stock, as you will see, it has doubled significantly from 12 months ago - it went up quite a bit more than that and it has kind of settled back down into this area, as small cap venture exchange stocks will do. We are very focused in keeping our heads down and continuing to build the company. As I said, the beauty of what we have got now, is we have got these forward-looking contracts with forward-looking orders that have not yet shown up in the results of the company. We believe that the stock has significant room to move, both in the short term and in the long term. I think the one comment that I will make is that we have been very focused as a company, not just looking at what the stock price is, but in building relationships with people that are both short-term and long-term.

One of the things you have to get used to when you were a startup company, when you go public, as opposed to the venture capital route, you have to get used to the concept that you actually want to people to sell your shares, because the only way you get trading volume is if someone sells and someone buys. That is the beauty of being public. If you get in and you want to get out, you can, you want to get in, get out and get back in and get back out if you can. If you want to buy and hold, which we hope there is a significant portion of as well, you have that ability. We are focused on making sure we have good trading volume and a strong, consistent, upward trend. I must admit I don't check the stock every day. I don't think I should. I tell my management team not to, but keep your head down, deliver your numbers, get the long-term. I have just talked to our guidance for the next 12 months, at least 8 million in revenue, this company has the potential to be a hundred million in revenue, 500 million in revenue. That is what we are focused on doing and we think that the stock will follow.

SH: And finally, Miriam, if there’s anything I’ve overlooked please feel free to elaborate.

MT: I think what I would say about Clear Blue is, and this is kind of the way I look at life, and when I am building things, is we are going after a business that has solid fundamentals. At the end of the day, we are an infrastructure power service delivery company. That is a power company, that is utility, that is TransCanada pipeline, that is an energy company, which many of you would hopefully have in your stock portfolio as a blue-chip dividend generating company. When looking at tech companies, you want something that is truly unique. Before we started this call you, you, we were just chatting a little bit about mining, and first nations, and rural, and all of these things. Clear Blue has focused in an area of the market with a real problem that is different than other normal solar companies.

We have a unique technology, we have patented IP, we use predictive analytics, and we have gone after a marketplace where we have established ourselves as a strong player in the market. Our competitor is Huawei, and when I lose a piece of business, it is because Huawei got the order. If the order comes to our partners, Parallel Wireless and NuRAN, then we generally get the business from them, if it makes good sense. You have got this infrastructure, recurring revenue, big market, potential opportunity with a technology that is highly differentiated. If you have got 10,000 systems, I think we are 7,000 systems in 37 countries, 10 billion transactions, over six or seven years of data and history in the field. We have a leadership on data that that is a moat that nobody else can get.

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FULL DISCLOSURE: This is a paid article produced by Stockhouse Publishing.

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