Norman Crowley

Norman Crowley

FAIR PLAY to Stormin’ Norman Crowley – he has the promotion of his Cool Planet brand down to a fine art. The latest example of his ability to generate headlines came in the Sindo last weekend, which ran a piece headlined: “Cool Planet aims to sell thousands of mining vehicles in Australia”. This is impressive stuff indeed but Crowley still has some way to go to start turning his big plans into moolah. Meanwhile, his Cool Planet Experience is no more.

Earlier this year, Crowley had an outing in the Irish Times, which heard he had inked a deal with an unidentified “leading global mining company to retrofit some 8,500 diesel mining trucks into electric vehicles [EVs] over the next three years”. The Sindo piece last month referred to expected sales of “200 electric Land Cruiser mining vehicles” next year, rising rapidly to 6,000 in 2026.

In the IT, Norman Crowley noted that some of the work would be carried out at a new factory in Co Wicklow, where his Cool Planet parent group adapts classic cars into EVs. Back in 2019, the electric car division (called AVA) apparently sold 75 vehicles and the forecast at that time was “to sell over 200 cars” in 2020.

In an interview at that time, Crowley revved his engine and the subsequent headline on the IT article was suitably optimistic: “Energy efficiency group Crowley Carbon set to hit €200m in revenues”.

Looking at the accounts filed since then, a casual observer might not grasp how profitable and fast-growing Crowley Carbon must be. For example, in 2019 the company dropped €4.4m and in the following (pandemic-impacted) year the losses jumped to €7.7m. The latest figures available show that losses dropped back to €2.7m in 2021, leaving the company deeply in the red to the tune of over €13m.

Stormin’ Norman clearly has great confidence in the ability of Crowley Carbon to start throwing off substantial profits and filings in the Companies Office show that as far back as 2018 he valued the company at just on €10m.

The 2021 figures for Cool Planet Group are also pretty underwhelming, revealing that the company lost €6.4m, resulting in accumulated losses of more than €23m.

As far as the general public is concerned, the most high profile of Crowley’s schemes has been the Cool Planet Experience, which is based at Powerscourt Estate in Co Wicklow. The facility was officially opened in 2018, with one Richard Branson cutting the ribbon, and the plan was that it would be the first of 10 permanent visitor centres planned for locations around the world that would “tell the true story of climate change”.

Alas, last month the operating company, Centre for Climate Change Ltd, was dissolved. Norman Crowley and fellow directors – Clyde Pereira, Gorge Polk, Anna Pringle and Sarah Slazenger (of Powerscourt House) – voted to, er, pull the plug, on the grounds that the company had not recovered from the impact of the pandemic. It had lost over €200,000 in 2020, the last year for which accounts are available.

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