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Clean Energy Week Events 2010 in Washington DC

In cleantech, Energy, Environment, greentech, Power Grid, Solar, Sustainable, Technology on January 25, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Complete list of events: http://www.cleanenergyweek.org/schedule.php

National Coalition of Organizations Create Clean Energy Week, Washington DC — February 1st – 5th, 2010

Organizations nationwide are joining together to maximize efforts to move clean energy to the forefront of national policy. Officially declaring February 1-5, 2010 as Clean Energy Week, a growing list of partners are working together to produce a high-impact week of powerful and effective activities and events.

Clean Energy Week, February 1-5, highlights:

  • February 1: Clean Energy Week Press Conference – Presented by ACORE, Alliance to Save Energy, and the Clean Economy Network. National Press Club, Holeman Room, 9:30am
  • February 1-5: NASEO State Energy Policy and Technology Outlook Conference
  • February 2-3: Business Advocacy Day for Jobs, Climate & New Energy Leadership – Clean Economy Network and Ceres’ Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy. More Information
  • February 3-5: RETECH 2010 Conference & Exhibition, Washington DC Convention Center
  • February 4: Finance Education Day by the U.S. Partnership for Renewable Energy Finance (US PREF)
  • February 4: Clean Energy Breakfast Roundtable – with Special Hill Guest Speaker. 8am (Clean Technology & Sustainable Industries Organization, Clean Economy Network and K&L Gates). Please contact CTSI or community@ct-si.org for an invite. Free with Invite
  • February 4: Renewable Energy Interactive Webinar (World Team Now) – 2:30-4pm. For more information and to register. Free Webinar
  • February 4: Buy Clean Energy 2010 Program Launch (Center for Resource Solutions). More information available! – Open Opportunity
  • February 4: A cutting-edge feed-in tariff that has the potential to transform New York State into a leading center for renewable-energy investment and job creation will be discussed in a public forum at the Cooper Union’s Great Hall in NYC at 6:30 p.m. http://www.nyses.org
  • February 5: Opportunities and Challenges for Renewable Energy in Latin America and the Caribbean (Latin American and Caribbean Council on Renewable Energy – LAC-CORE, Washington Convention Center: For more information and to register. Free Event

Partners Include:

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Landfill Creates Fuel for Garbage Trucks in CA- What’s Maryland going to do about it?

In cleantech, Energy, entrepreneur, Environment, greentech, investment, Science, Sustainable, Technology on January 20, 2010 at 8:58 pm

  • Landfill Creates Fuel for Garbage Trucks
  • So Arnold Schwarzenegger has set the bar high for the other Governors and asked for zero emissions. T. Boone Pickens is answering the call and helping to provide natural gas to all bus and garbage trucks in California. Methane from garbage dumps is a source of dirty but clean local fuel.
    This begs the question- what is our state going to do about it?

    In my case- this means Maryland. Our Governor- Martin O’Malley is green and getting greener. Let’s see him learn from California’s example- don’t let politics get in the way. We have green initiatives- can’t we have the MTA switch to natural gas. If not- why not? The Federal government supports clean fuel and pays most of the bill for new buses. Why can’t ours be clean like California’s?

    LIVERMORE, CALIF. – Hundreds of trash trucks across California are rumbling down city streets using clean fuel made from a dirty source: garbage. The fuel is derived from rotting refuse that San Francisco and Oakland residents and businesses have been discarding in the Altamont landfill since 1980. Since November, the methane gas created from decaying detritus at the 240-acre landfill has been sucked into tubes and sent into an innovative facility that purifies and transforms it into liquefied natural gas.

    http://greenopolis.com – Altamont, California, best known for the Rolling Stones Gimme Shelter concert, now has a new claim to fame- passing gas. Only this time its all good. The Altamont Landfill and Resource Recovery Facility is now the worlds largest landfill to liquefied natural gas facility. With the innovative capture technologies in place, methane- a Greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than CO2- is being turned into a resource. The project represents cross sector collaboration with Waste Management, Linde, and the State of California.The captured methane is processed into liquefied natural gas that is powering 300 Waste Management trucks daily, realizing ultra low carbon emissions from the natural gas and saving all that petro diesel and fine particle pollution to boot. WM is hoping to harvest 13,000 gallons of this fuel a day for their fleet. This is a project grand in concept, innovative leadership and scale. Its a great example of once again closing the loop and transforming waste to resources. This approach will provide green jobs and cleaner air for California and the rest of us.

Clean tech gets big piece of venture-capital funding – USATODAY.com

In cleantech, Energy, entrepreneur, Environment, greentech, investment, Power Grid, Science, Solar, Technology, technology transfer, Venture Capital on January 13, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Clean tech gets big piece of venture-capital funding – USATODAY.com.

Venture-capital funding for clean-technology firms fell 33% in 2009 from the year before, but the sector fared better than others amid a dismal economy, data released Wednesday indicate.

More than $5.6 billion in venture-capital investment went to clean-tech firms — including solar, wind, energy efficiency, transportation and biofuels — last year, say preliminary data from market researcher Cleantech Group and finance firm Deloitte.

Total venture-capital investment has retreated to 2003 levels, but clean tech has reset only to 2007 levels, the Cleantech Group says. “It was a difficult year, but I see clean tech … as the best of the worst,” says Shawn Lesser, founder of finance firm Sustainable World Capital.

The money flow underscores that:

Clean tech has muscle. In 2004, the sector accounted for about 3% of venture-capital investment. That expanded to about 25% in 2009. The sector last year, for the first time, received more private venture capital than any other sector, including software, Cleantech Group says.

Efficiency and transportation are in. The top clean-tech recipient in 2009 was solar, which got 21% of it. But solar investment was down 64% from the previous year, while the transportation and energy-efficiency sectors had record years.

The drop for solar stems from several factors, including the big amounts of money needed to commercialize technologies, says Dallas Kachan, managing director of the Cleantech Group. Meanwhile, energy-efficiency firms — those concentrating on everything from lighting to green building materials — often need less money to bring products or services to market, may rely on more proven technologies and may pose less risk to investors. “They’re not reinventing the wheel,” Kachan says.

Last year, venture capital for transportation — for such things as electric cars and new battery technology — rose 47% to $1.1 billion. Investment in energy efficiency rose 39% to $1 billion.

North America may be slipping. The region is still dominant for clean-tech venture capital, but it’s getting a smaller share than it used to. Last year, North America received 62% of clean-tech venture-capital dollars, down from 72% in 2008, the Cleantech Group says. Europe and Israel took in 29% of 2009 dollars, up from 22% in 2008. That Europe and Israel increased their share of venture-capital funding may reflect the desire for investors to pursue less risky deals in markets where clean tech is already more widely deployed, Lesser says.

MIT Press Reframing the Conversation on Energy and Climate

In cleantech, Energy, Environment, greentech, investment, Power Grid, Science, Sustainable, Technology on December 5, 2009 at 2:49 pm

MIT Press Reframing the Conversation on Energy and Climate.

If you have any trouble playing the video here- then press HERE

Bolton Hill Consulting assisted MIT Innovations editors to organize this educational event at the National Academy of Sciences. (Live Streaming & Video production provided by Alan Tone at Fimmaker etc).

Time For Change
Reframing the Conversation on Energy and Climate

A discussion on the occasion of the release of the Innovations journal special issue on energy & climate.

November 24, 2009
The National Academy of Sciences
Washington, D.C.

The solutions to our climate challenge aren’t just “out there,” they are right here-before your eyes, in your hands.
—John P. Holdren,
Science Adviser to the President of the United States, Introduction to Innovations 4:4 Energy for Change: Creating Climate Solutions

EVENT DESCRIPTION

The goal of this meeting was to contribute to reframing the conversation on energy and climate by illuminating opportunities inherent in the transition away from carbon intensity. The meeting focused on how technologies already in use can be combined with common-sense policies and 21st century modes of organization to create jobs, advance innovation, and enhance international cooperation. Led by the Science Adviser to the President of the United States, John Holdren, and informed by a year-long project on energy & climate at the National Academy of Sciences, the meeting was be organized into a set of forward-looking conversations respectively emphasizing opportunities for business, for the United States, and for the global community of nations.

Selected video highlights from Time for Change: Reframing the Conversation on Energy and Climate.

AGENDA

Panel #1: Building Change: The built environment and electric power service delivery video

Moderator:Ellen Vaughan, Environmental and Energy Study Institute .pdf

Panelist:Ralph Cavanagh, Natural Resources Defense Council .pdf

Panelist: James Turner, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities .pdf

Panelist: Henry Green, National Institute of Building Sciences .pdf


Panel #2: Driving Change: Transport and reduced oil consumption
video

Moderator:Philip Auerswald, George Mason University

Panelist:Judi Greenwald, Pew Center on Global Climate Change

Panelist: L. Jerry Hansen, United States Army

Panelist:William Drayton, Ashoka and Get America Working! .pdf


Panel #3: Legislating Change: U.S. policy options and directions
video

Moderator:Edward Maibach, George Mason University

Panelist:Richard Meserve, The Carnegie Institution

Panelist:Jason Grumet, Bipartisan Policy Center

Panelist:Bracken Hendricks, Center for American Progress


Introduction of Keynote Speaker

Philip Auerswald, George Mason University

Keynote Address video

John P. Holdren, Science Adviser to the President of the United States .pdf


Panel #4: Negotiating Change: International agreements and new institutional arrangements at a global scale
video

Moderator:William Bonvillian, MIT .pdf

Panelist:Thomas Schelling, University of Maryland .pdf

Panelist: Frank Alix, Powerspan Corp. .pdf

Panelist:Iqbal Quadir, MIT

Closing Address video

Rear Admiral Philip Hart Cullom, United States Navy


Concluding Remarks
video

William Bonvillian, MIT .pdf

Read William B. Bonvillian and Charles Weiss’s MIT Press Book: Structuring an Energy Technology Revolution

Subscribe to Innovations

NREL Uncovers Clean Energy Leaders State by State

In Bioscience, cleantech, Energy, Environment, greentech, Power Grid, Solar, Sustainable on November 22, 2009 at 11:33 pm

via NREL: News Feature – NREL Uncovers Clean Energy Leaders State by State.

 

 

The State of the States project was developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, NREL and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). It is funded by the Department of Energy’s office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

While states such as California and Texas with abundant resources continue to rank among the leading states in terms of total renewable electricity generation, the study shows that a range of other states are demonstrating strong growth in the clean energy sector, including those with historic fossil fuel legacies, such as Oklahoma and Illinois.

Wind energy accounted for the largest percentage of nationwide growth in renewable generation between 2001 and 2007, including a 30 percent increase in 2006 and 2007.

Biomass generation continued to expand across most regions, with states as disparate as Delaware, Utah, Minnesota and Alaska showing the most recent growth in the sector. Biomass generation continued to be strong in southeastern states, including Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

Key Findings

* Non-hydro renewable electricity generation as a percent of total electricity generation increased 33.7 percent between 2001 and 2007, reaching a national total of 105 million megawatt-hours.

* California led the nation in terms of total non-hydroelectric renewable generation in 2007; Maine is No. 1 when also considering state population and gross state product.

* Washington led in total renewable generation in 2007 if hydroelectric resources are included.

* South Dakota ranks first in overall growth in non-hydro renewable energy generation between 2001 and 2007.

* Geothermal electricity generation in the Lower 48 is concentrated in California, Nevada and Utah.

* Solar capacity is concentrated in the southwestern and northeastern states.

* Leading wind energy states are Texas, California, Iowa, Minnesota, and Washington. However, sparsely populated Wyoming leads in per-capita wind generation.

 

World Bank Development Marketplace Climate Adaptation Grant Recipients to be Announced November 10-13, 2009

In agriculture, Bioscience, Biotechnology, cleantech, Environment, greentech, Science, Sustainable, Technology on October 20, 2009 at 12:27 pm

The Development Marketplace is a competitive grant program administered by the World Bank. The 2009 global competition is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and additional DM partners. It aims to identify 20 to 25 innovative, early-stage projects addressing climate adaptation.

Open to the public: this year’s Climate Adaptation Grant Recipients will be announced on Nov 10-13, 2009

Development Marketplace – DM2009 – Climate Adaptation.

In 2008- twenty-two project winners collected their crystal awards and grant checks in the 2008 Global Development Marketplace: Sustainable Agriculture for Development:

The winners came from Sub-Saharan Africa, South and East Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.  India, Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, Cambodia, and Vietnam were each the home of two award winners.  Altogether, 15 countries and Sub-Saharan Africa as a region were represented.

The projects that made the final cut — from 1,800 applications that were winnowed down to 100 from 42 countries — promise to deliver a number of objectives and innovations to increase agricultural productivity, give farmers more land rights and link them to global markets, and, overall, reduce the deep poverty of rural regions in developing countries.

All the grants are $200,000 or less — but the World Bank Group and other funders of DM2008 see even the smallest projects having a catalyst effect on lagging agricultural development that has been undercutting gains in the global fight against poverty.

In her opening remarks, Katherine Sierra, Vice President of Sustainable Development at the World Bank, a DM2008 partner, complimented the winners on their “ambition and drive,” and said their innovation comes when it’s especially needed — amid the crisis of rising commodity prices.

“Today we meet to celebrate innovation,” said second speaker Monique Barbut, CEO of the Global Environment Facility, a competition partner.  “And the projects we are recognizing here do just that by supporting communities struggling with the agricultural challenges of the food price crisis.”

More compliments came from other speakers representing other partners — Mercy Karanja, Senior Program Officer of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Albert Engel, Head, Division for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food at GTZ.

The winners that used technology are listed below: (listed by project, country, sponsoring organization, and objective):

1. Using Cassava Waste to Raise Goats, Nigeria, University of Agricultural, Abeokuta. To create a new market linking cassava producers and goat keepers through the introduction of a simple drying technology that will turn cassava waste into goat feed.  As a result, the project will increase farming incomes and reduce carbon dioxide wastes by eliminating the need to burn cassava waste.

2. Converting Rice Fields into Green Fertilizer Factories, Ecuador, Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL). To increase rice yields and reduce dependency on imported artificial nitrogen fertilizers through the re-introduction and cultivation of the Azolla Anabena plant as a biofertilizer.

3. Linking Coffee Farmers to Markets via Traceable Coffee, Sub-Saharan Africa, Pachama Coffee Cooperative of Small-scale coffee producers. To support small farmers to obtain a greater share of the value-added in coffee production through the introduction of an online tracking system that will allow end consumers to trace a specific coffee back to the level of the actual farm.

4. Mini Cold Storage Ventures, India, Tiruchirappalli Regional Engineering College- Science and Technology Entrepreneurs Park. To establish cold chain enterprises among trained youth using the latest technology in refrigeration adapted to the needs of small farmers.

5. Renewable Energy-Powered Milk Coolers, Uganda, University of Georgia, To test a reengineered milk cooling system to match the needs of smallholder dairy farmers, resulting in reduced post-harvest losses and increased farm income.

6. Micro-Franchising Scheme for Agricultural Services, Cambodia, International Development Enterprises Cambodia. To develop a sustainable micro-franchise enterprise to provide affordable horticulture services through private extension agents.

7. Açaí Production for Income Generation and Forest Protection, Brazil, Centro Ecológico. To provide technical services to a local cooperative of small scale farmers in the biodiversity-rich Atlantic Forests to harvest and market the açaí berry.

8. Value Chain Development for Textile Products, Mongolia, VSO. To increase the domestic value of livestock production through better marketing opportunities and services to raw material producers and processors.

9. Organoleptic Analysis to Improve Market Access for Cacao Growers, Ecuador, Conservación y Desarrollo. To equip cacao growers with access to chocolate making machinery so that they can better serve differentiated markets and improve the quality of their product.

10. Ancient Cocoa: Modern Genomics Methods Benefiting Small Farmers, Trinida and Tobago, Bioversity International. To enhance the cocoa value chain by facilitating the identification of more profitable trace cocoa cultivars using modern genomics methods.

11. Riverbed Farming for Landless Households in Nepal, Nepal, Helvetas. To facilitate the use of leasing arrangements for landless households to gain access to unused dry riverbeds for off-season cultivation of horticultural produce.

12. Collective Land Ownership Model for Women, India, Manav Seva Sansthan “SEVA.” To demonstrate the effectiveness of a collective land ownership model that provides women secured land holdings necessary for them to adopt more profitable modern farming practices.

13. Legal Aid for Farmers’ Land Rights, China, Rural Development Institute. To create the first legal aid center in China devoted to farmers’ agricultural land rights.

14. Land Ownership for the Rural Poor in Mexico, Mexico, Agros International.To create two sustainable farming communities in Chiapas through the long-term lease of land and provision of integrated technical services to landless farmers.

15. Producing Biofuel from Indigenous Non-Edible Nuts, Tanazania, Africa Biofuel and Emission Reduction Ltd. To cultivate and sell an indigenous oil-seed for biofuel from the Croton tree, creating a new, sustainable cash crop for smallholder farmers.

16. Locally Produced Biofuel Outboard Motor, Senegal, Mission Goorgoorlu. To introduce along Senegal’s waterways an affordable and environmentally friendly mode to transport agriculture products to market. The project is using traditional vessels powered by a locally produced biofuel outboard motor fueled by processed indigenous oil seeds.

17. Agricultural Cooperatives for Biodiversity Conservation, Cambodia, Wildlife Conservation Society. To pilot Cambodia’s first market for payment for environmental services generated from agriculture using a “Wildlife-friendly” branding and marketing strategy.

18. Reducing Impacts of Ranching on Biodiversity, Mexico, Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda. To pilot a payment scheme for a “gourmet” menu of integrated environmental services generated from intensive cattle operations in the biodiversity-rich area of San Antonio Tancoyol.

19. Sustaining Nitrogen-Efficient Rice Production, Vietnam, University of Sydney. To establish an integrated production-supply-extension chain to ensure a reliable biofertilizer product that reduces chemical contamination and increases yields.

20. Low-Cost Housing: Waste Rice Straw Construction Panels, Vietnam, Vinh Sang Ltd. To create a sustainable enterprise that manufactures kits for affordable environmentally sustainable housing made from recycled straw waste in the Mekong Delta.

22. Payment for Ecosystem Services and Sustainable Agriculture, Paraguay, Organization of American States. To implement in three pilot sites a menu of agro-forestry practices combined with a scheme of Payments for Ecosystem Services. This will be the first application of Paraguay’s Law of Ecosystem Services in the context of a rural farm economy.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Supports Sustainable Agricultural Development through Science & Technology

In agriculture, Bioscience, Biotechnology, Environment, finance, greentech, investment, Science, Sustainable, Technology on October 20, 2009 at 10:42 am

The following is taken from parts of the Gates Foundation’s website

Frequently Asked Questions About Agricultural Development – Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation support programs that will enable small farmers to break the cycle of hunger and poverty—to sell what they grow or raise, increase their incomes, and make their farms more productive and sustainable.
“We fund projects with partners who”:
  • Employ a collaborative and comprehensive approach.
  • Provide small farmers with the supplies and support they need to succeed.
  • Put women at the center of their work.
  • Help small farmers profit from their crops.
  • Use science and technology to develop crops that can thrive.

Updates on Funded Projects
During the original Green Revolution, overuse of fertilizer led to unanticipated environmental consequences. Today, we consider potential environmental impacts in all of our grantmaking, and are committed to a sustainable model of agriculture that takes into account the needs of both farmers and the environment. So while Africa’s severely depleted soils require fertilizer, we promote judicious and efficient uses of fertilizer, and more intensive use of organic matter. We also invest in efforts to improve soil and water conservation techniques.

Another unanticipated consequence of the original Green Revolution was increased inequity in some areas. Our work is focused on providing small farmers living on less than a dollar a day—most of whom are women—with tools and opportunities to lift themselves out of hunger and poverty. We and our grantees work to involve small farmers in the design and evaluation of our projects, to ensure that our work meets their needs and addresses the realities they face in their local areas.

Another difference is that the original Green Revolution focused primarily on raising the yields of two staple crops: rice and wheat. Africa’s diverse agroecological zones and varied conditions will require a much greater range of approaches, from boosting productivity in a wider range of crops to developing crops that are resistant to drought, disease, and pests. We are working to carefully understand the different needs of small farmers throughout the continent and are designing our efforts to respond to their specific circumstances.

This new Green Revolution is broad based and includes significant African leadership on a number of levels. We are working with a wide range of partners to strengthen the entire agricultural value chain—from seeds and soil to farm management and market access—so that progress is sustainable over the long-term. We are also working to involve and empower women—who are integral to success in agriculture—at every level of our work.

Q: Do you pay attention to the environmental impact of your agricultural grantmaking?

A: Yes—we consider potential environmental impacts in all of our grantmaking. Our approach is to support both poor farmers and the environment.Population growth and poor soil health in Africa have forced farmers to clear and cultivate more marginal lands, often leading to erosion, deforestation, and sometimes desertification. In Asia, the misuse of fertilizers and irrigation has caused large areas of land to be lost to acidification and salinization.

We understand these are not sustainable ways to produce food or preserve the environment. In revitalizing small-scale farm production we are funding approaches that support small farmers and are ecologically sound.

Q: Does the foundation promote the use of fertilizers?

A: Healthy soil is critical to farm productivity, and the judicious use of organic and mineral fertilizers can help small farmers prosper while preserving their land.We support AGRA’s Soil Health Program, which focuses on integrated soil fertility management as well as the use of fertilizers where necessary to provide important plant nutrients missing from the soil and from organic materials available to the farmer. We invest in information and knowledge-sharing to assist small farmers in using the right fertilizers in the right way to nourish their soil. We also invest in efforts to improve soil and water conservation techniques.

We are committed to sustainable agriculture, using farming supplies that farmers can afford and that take environmental needs into account.

Q: What is the foundation doing about climate change?

A: The foundation believes that climate change is a major issue facing all of us, particularly poor people in developing countries, and we applaud the work that many are doing to help find solutions in this area. While the foundation does not fund efforts specifically aimed at reducing carbon emissions, many of our Agricultural Development grants directly address problems that climate change creates or exacerbates. For example, we have made several grants to help small farmers who live on less than $1 per day adapt to increased drought and flooding through the development of drought and flood resistant crops, improved irrigation efficiency, and other means.

Bill Gates Wants a Green Agriculture Revolution: Here’s Tech That Can Drive It

In agriculture, cleantech, entrepreneur, Environment, greentech, investment, Science, Sustainable, Venture Capital on October 19, 2009 at 4:08 pm

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By Josie Garthwaite
Original content at earth2tech.com

bill-gates-agriculture

Excerpts below

At the World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa today, Gates announced that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded $120 million in nine new grants to organizations and research partners (including $15 million for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa), to work on the effort, focusing primarily on small-scale farming in sub-Saharan Africa. In his speech Gates called for an end to the ideological division over the future of agriculture: “Productivity or sustainability — they say you have to choose. It’s a false choice,” he said. Rather, we need farming techniques that are both environmentally responsible and highly productive, and technology will help bridge the gap, he said.

Today’s grants are being awarded for projects including distribution of legumes that fix nitrogen in the soil and pest-resistant sweet potatoes, training for African governments to “draw on as they regulate biotechnologies,” help for women farmers in India to manage land and water resources sustainably and programs to deliver information to farmers via radio and mobile phones. The awards come as part of the $1.4 billion that the Gates Foundation has committed so far for agricultural development efforts — promoting techniques such as no-till farming (explained in the video clip below), rainwater harvesting and drip irrigation.

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The Gates Foundation has drawn criticism, as the Seattle Times points out today, for focusing too strongly “on technology solutions and higher yields, a path that risks repeating the mistakes of the original Green Revolution.” But a growing number of firms, including startups and small companies, are working on a new wave of agricultural tech that could play an important role in a real green shift.

via Bill Gates Wants a Green Agriculture Revolution: Here’s Tech That Can Drive It.

Climate change is raising the stakes for agricultural tech as the world population grows and the amount of arable land shrinks. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, farmers will have to deal with “increased potential” for extreme events like droughts, floods and heat waves,” and “enduring changes in climate, water supply and soil moisture could make it less feasible to continue crop production in certain regions.” More mouths to feed, plus less arable land and changing rainfall patterns, means growing demand for tech that lets farmers do more with less.

Venture capitalist David Anthony, founding partner of 21Ventures and a frequent co-investor with Quercus Trust, thinks that “aeroponic farming,” or farms in urban environments that use technology like LEDs to grow crops, will find a growing market. His firm invested in Aero Farm Systems, a New York-based startup that develops tech-heavy urban farming processes. In general, Anthony thinks that advanced farming techniques are an under-invested area where his firm sees promise.

A slew of companies are also working on smart water management technology, and some of them could extend to agricultural applications. PureSense, for example, uses soil moisture sensors and sends data via wireless networks to irrigation control systems.

Other companies are helping small-scale farmers bring their surplus foods to market using technology and the broadband age. Take FarmsReach, a California startup that won the audience choice award at our Green:Net conference in March. The 2-year-old company has developed a web marketplace to make it easier for buyers, such as restaurants, hospitals and schools, to order produce from nearby farmers, and for farmers to manage their sales and deliveries.

FarmsReach has been designed with the U.S. food system in mind, but other iterations — perhaps utilizing mobile devices for areas without ready computer or broadband access — could be useful elsewhere. Gates spoke to that need today, urging food companies to “buying power to provide markets for small farmers,” although, “the logistics might be more complex at first.”

Of course, the farmers and communities that the Gates Foundation is seeking to serve with these grants need low-cost solutions, and much of the technology emerging from startups right now still has a ways to go on the cost curve. As Pacific Institute co-founder Peter Gleick put it at this year’s Clean-Tech Investor Summit, “It’s entirely possible to create brilliant water technology that the places that need it the most can’t afford.” So we second the call from Gates for a “greener” revolution, with an extra nudge for startups to  put technology to work for small farmers and the planet.

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Photo credit Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Megakites & Solar Flowers at Popular Science By Carina Storrs

In cleantech, Energy, entrepreneur, greentech, Science, Solar, Sustainable, Venture Capital on October 14, 2009 at 12:19 pm

This Month’s Innovations For a Greener Future: Megakites, Solar Flowers, and More

via This Month’s Innovations For a Greener Future: Megakites, Solar Flowers, and More | Popular Science.

By Carina Storrs Posted 10.14.2009 at 10:21 am

Up and Away: The kite generates electricity as it ascends.

A kite flown in a strong breeze will quickly unspool string as it climbs higher. KiteGen Research in Italy aims to turn that action into electricity. The company developed a prototype that flies 200-square-foot kites to altitudes of 2,600 feet, where wind streams are four times as strong as they are near ground-based wind turbines.

As the kite’s tether unspools, it spins an alternator that generates up to 40 kilowatts. Once the kite reaches its peak altitude, it collapses, and motors quickly reel it back in to restart the cycle. This spring, KiteGen started building a machine to fly a 1,500-square-foot kite, which it plans to finish by 2011, that could generate up to three megawatts—enough to power 9,000 homes.

Smoke and Mirrors: Mirrors direct sunlight onto the solar plant’s tower, heating air to run a turbine that powers 70 nearby homes. Aora/Haim Fried

Flower Power

Any blossom would stand out in the desert of southern Israel, but you’d be hard-pressed to miss a 98-foot-tall one. The tulip-shaped tower is the centerpiece of the world’s first hybrid-solar power plant, opened this summer by Israeli start-up AORA Solar. An array of 30 mirrors focuses the sun’s rays on the central steel bud. Inside, the solar energy heats air to 1,800ºF, causing it to expand and spin a turbine to generate 100 kilowatts. When night falls or clouds obscure the sun, the plant helps heat the air with a standard diesel combuster running on up to eight gallons per hour to provide consistent electricity output, unlike strictly solar plants. AORA is working with Spanish, Chilean and Australian companies to export the tech, which could be reconfigured to burn biofuel, says Pinchas Doron, the company’s chief technology officer. “Soon,” he says, “it could be green energy 24/7.”

DOE Solar Decathlon: About Solar Decathlon

In cleantech, Energy, entrepreneur, Environment, finance, greentech, Sustainable, Technology, technology transfer on October 13, 2009 at 8:45 pm

DOE Solar Decathlon: About Solar Decathlon.

For three weeks in October 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy will host the Solar Decathlon—a competition in which 20 teams of college and university students compete to design, build, and operate the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house. The Solar Decathlon is also an event to which the public is invited to observe the powerful combination of solar energy, energy efficiency, and the best in home design.

Exact dates of the 2009 event are:

  • Oct. 1—Teams arrive at the National Mall and begin assembly of their houses
  • Oct. 8-16—Teams compete in 10 contests
  • Oct. 9-13—Houses are open to the public
  • Oct. 15-18—Houses are open to the public
  • Oct. 19-21—Teams disassemble their houses.

The Solar Decathlon houses will be open for public tours 11 a.m.­–3 p.m. Monday–Friday and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Please note that all homes will be closed Wed., Oct. 14.

The Solar Decathlon consists of three major phases:

  • Building: This is where most of the work—and the learning—happens. In addition to designing houses that use innovative, high-tech elements in ingenious ways, students have to raise funds, communicate team activities, collect supplies, and work with contractors. Although the Solar Decathlon competition receives the most attention, it’s the hard work that students put in during the building phase that makes or breaks a team.
  • Moving to the Solar Village: When it’s time for the Solar Decathlon, the teams transport their houses to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and rebuild them on site.
  • Competing: During the competition itself, the teams receive points for their performance in 10 contests and open their homes to the public.

Purpose

The Solar Decathlon brings attention to one of the biggest challenges we face—an ever-increasing need for energy. As an internationally recognized event, it offers powerful solutions—using energy more efficiently and using energy from renewable sources.

The Solar Decathlon has several goals:

  1. To educate the student participants—the “Decathletes”—about the benefits of energy efficiency, renewable energy and green building technologies. As the next generation of engineers, architects, builders, and communicators, the Decathletes will be able to use this knowledge in their studies and their future careers.
  2. To raise awareness among the general public about renewable energy and energy efficiency, and how solar energy technologies can reduce energy usage.
  3. To help solar energy technologies enter the marketplace faster. This competition encourages the research and development of energy efficiency and energy production technologies.
  4. To foster collaboration among students from different academic disciplines—including engineering and architecture students, who rarely work together until they enter the workplace.
  5. To promote an integrated or “whole building design” approach to new construction. This approach differs from the traditional design/build process because the design team considers the interactions of all building components and systems to create a more comfortable building, save energy, and reduce environmental impact.
  6. To demonstrate to the public the potential of Zero Energy Homes, which produce as much energy from renewable sources, such as the sun and wind, as they consume. Even though the home might be connected to a utility grid, it has net zero energy consumption from the utility provider.