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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.


Clean Energy Patents Hit Record High in the US

In angel Investor, cleantech, Energy, entrepreneur, greentech, investment, maintech, Sustainable, Technology, technology transfer, Venture Capital on October 5, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Clean Energy Patents Hit Record High in the US.

by Zachary Shan at CleanTechnica.com

Some Excerpts:

According to intellectual property law firm Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti P.C., who publishes the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index (CEPGI) every quarter, 274 clean energy patents were granted last quarter. This is 31 more than the previous quarter and 57 more than in the same quarter last year.

This is a good sign that clean technology will continue to provide the US with a greater and greater share of its energy. Additionally, clean technology in the transportation sector is advancing at great speed and with momentum and maybe we will find our way out of gas and oil related crises soon. Fuel cell* technology is leading the way. Victor Cardona, co-chair of the firm’s Cleantech Group, states: “Fuel cells continued to dominate the other technologies while wind and solar patents continued an upswing. Honda earned more patents than the other patentees to again claim the Clean Energy Patent Crown.”

Another record high was in the biofuels** sector. “Biofuel patents reached an all time
quarterly high at 13 and were up 2 relative to the first quarter and up 8 over a year before,” according to the press release.

Geographically, Japan led the pack (with 75 new patents), California was second (29), Michigan and Germany tied for third (23), and New York and Korea tied for fifth (15). In addition to Honda, the top companies were GM, Toyota, GE, Nissan, and Panasonic Corp. (respectively).

*For recent news on fuel cells, read Full Cycle Energy Joins Race for Non-Platinum Fuel Cells and Wegmans Grocery Gets $1 Million Grant for Fuel Cell Technology.

**For recent news on biofuels, read Watermelon Juice — Next Source of Renewable Energy, Electrolyzed Water Turns Waste Product Into Biofuel, and Scientists Force Fungus to Have Sex to Create Biofuel.

Julie Gabrielli: H, F, & C Redux: Virtues of Regulation

In Energy, entrepreneur, Environment, Sustainable, Technology, technology transfer on August 18, 2009 at 3:41 am
By Julie Gabrielli
H, F, & C Redux: Virtues of Regulation

I ran across these notes I made from my own reading of “Hot, Flat, and Crowded” last fall. Two stories illustrate Friedman’s point about the importance of incentives and also of standards and regulation. We usually hear the side of the equation that regulations are going to cost the consumer more. This is not necessarily true, because when you are innovating, you can often design something to be manufactured more cheaply.

One example is from when the EPA issued the Tier 2 emission standards for locomotive engines in the early 2000s. It was a standard for NOx, not CO2. It had to do with air quality; carbon was not on the radar back then, although it should have been.

G.E. is the world’s largest maker of locomotives, and they do it in Erie PA. They could have just tweaked their engine design. Instead they looked at it as a clean slate. They went to the drawing board and designed an engine that met those emission standards, was much more fuel efficient, and much more reliable in terms of maintenance. The CEO of the locomotive division openly admits that it was that EPA regulation that caused them to innovate.

By having the standard, your competitor also has to meet the standard. There’s no more guesswork if you put all this time into R & D whether there is going to be a market for your innovation. It turned out that, because the G.E. locomotive was more fuel efficient, it also had much less CO2 emissions. G.E. sells all over the world – to China, India, Europe. Those countries were already starting to put carbon regulations into place. G.E. was ahead of the curve in curbing CO2. Their engine is still one of the only ones that meet the new regulations being passed around the world, including in China.

Another story comes from the early 1970s. Some of us are old enough to recall the brouhaha over the catalytic converter requirement passed in California. The Big Three automakers went to Congress and claimed that if they had to do this, it would cripple the entire American economy. It would add $1200 to $1800 per car. (Friedman cites a study since then that showed it was more like $800 per car.)

The point is not this, but that it spurred innovation. The catalytic converter is an “end-of-pipe” solution, just like smokestack scrubbers. A little car company called Honda went back to the drawing board and created a thing called the CVCC engine (Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion). The team of engineers met and resolved to look at the engine and design it to burn the fuel more cleanly. They redesigned how the combustion engine burns fuel, and at that time were able to meet the standard without a catalytic converter.

Yes, incentive programs are a great way to get us to convince business and industry to adopt green practices. And, regulations will help level the playing field, bring everyone up to a standard, and spur innovation.

Path to $3B in Stimulus Funds Revealed to Renewable Energy Developers | GreenBiz.com

In cleantech, Energy, entrepreneur, Environment, greentech, investment, Sustainable, Technology, technology transfer on July 11, 2009 at 2:51 pm

By Tilde Herrera, ClimateBiz
Published July 10, 2009

OAKLAND, Calif. — The Energy and Treasury departments released eagerly awaited guidance Thursday to help renewable energy project developers apply for roughly $3 billion in stimulus funds, which experts say will open the market to many technologies that weren’t economically feasible before.

The departments released the guidance, terms of conditions and a sample application, although applications won’t be accepted until next month. The rules is a major step that will spur private sector investment in clean energy and move the U.S. closer to President Barack Obama’s goal of doubling renewable energy capacity in three years, according to Matt Rogers, a Department of Energy (DOE) senior advisor charged with implementing ARRA funding.

“By getting these rules out there and making it clear how to apply we’re hoping this will bring that private capital back from the sidelines and into the market quickly,” Rogers said during a conference call with reporters Thursday.

The tax grants will offset between 10 percent and 30 percent of the project’s cost, depending on the technology type. Construction must begin by the end of 2010 and the projects must be placed into service by 2017 at the latest for certain types of technologies. The Treasury Department expects the program will benefit some 5,000 projects, and seems ready to boost funding from an estimated $3 billion if demand warrants an increase.

Credit termination date and credit percentage, by project type
Courtesy of Energy and Treasury departments

Under this temporary program, developers who previously qualified for the production tax credit can now opt for the investment tax credit, which is based on the cost of the project, not the amount of electricity to be generated. Those eligible to claim the investment tax credit may then elect to receive a direct payment, rather than having the credit paid over 10 years and based on the amount of electricity generated. Cash grant recipients must agree to give up future tax credits.

Nanopillar Solar Cells

In cleantech, Energy, entrepreneur, greentech, Science, Sustainable, technology transfer on July 6, 2009 at 10:01 am

Nanopillar Solar Cells.

technologyreview.com Researchers @ UC Berkeley made a new kind of solar cell by growing an array of upright nanoscale pillars on aluminum foil. The design could lead to solar cells that cost less than conventional silicon photovoltaics & the technique used to make the cells could be adapted to make rolls of flexible panels on thin aluminum foil, cutting manufacturing costs.

KPCB – Greentech Portfolio Companies

In cleantech, Energy, entrepreneur, Environment, greentech, investment, Sustainable, Technology, technology transfer, Venture Capital on July 5, 2009 at 9:43 pm

KPCB Greentech companies: Altarock Energy Inc, Altra Biofuels, Amyris Biotechnologies, Ausra, Bloom Energy, Fisker Automotive, GreatPoint Energy, Hara Software, Lehigh Technologies, Lilliputian Systems, Mascoma Corporation, Miasole, RecycleBank, RPX Corporation, Silver Spring Networks, Inc., Verdiem

Clean technology venture investment rebounds in 2Q09

In angel Investor, cleantech, Energy, entrepreneur, Environment, greentech, investment, Science, Sustainable, Technology, technology transfer, Venture Capital on July 2, 2009 at 5:18 pm

Clean technology venture investment rebounds in 2Q09.

Reprinted In Part from CleanTech, LLC

BY TECHNOLOGY SECTOR
The leading sector in the quarter was transportation—specifically, vehicles, biofuels and advanced batteries—reflecting attention on the automotive sector and significant government stimulus. Meanwhile, solar saw its lowest level of investment in over three years, with only $114 million invested, down from a high of $1.2 billion invested in 3Q08, as most investors, whose portfolios contain significant solar holdings, did not increase their exposure. The largest transactions in each technology sector were:

  • VEHICLES – $236 million
    Deals included San Diego startup V-Vehicle’s raise of $100 million to date from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and T. Boone Pickens to build a fuel-efficient car in Louisiana, EV manufacturer Fisker Automotive, which raised $85 million from Eco-Drive Partners and Kleiner Perkins to fund development and manufacturing of its Karma plug-in hybrid, Norwegian EV startup Think Global which raised $39 million, and Israel’s ETV Motors which raised $12 million from Quercus Trust to develop an electric powertrain.
  • BIOFUELS – $206 million
    Deals included agri.capital, a European developer of biogas plants, which raised $82 million from TCW Group and others and renewable oil producer Solazyme, which raised $57 million from Braemar Energy Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners and new investor VantagePoint Venture Partners.
  • ADVANCED BATTERIES – $165 million
    Deals included lithium-ion startup A123, which raised a $100 million round led by GE and others, and Deeya Energy, which raised $30 million from Technology Partners and others to develop its redox flow batteries.
  • SOLAR – $114 million
    Deals included Indian solar developer Cobol Technologies, which raised $30 million from Pangea Capital, as well as CSP technology provider Ausra, which raised $25.5 million from Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins, among others. Another CSP company, Stirling-engine dish vendor Infinia, raised $14.1 million in convertible debt, as part of a $50 million planned raise.

M&As AND IPOs
Clean technology M&A totaled an estimated 138 transactions in 2Q09, of which totals were disclosed for 40 transactions totaling $12.2 billion. This is up 291 percent from 1Q09, which saw 123 M&A transactions, of which 28 were disclosed for a total of $3.1 billion.

Cleantech Group noted two cleantech IPOs in 2Q09: China Metal Recycling began trading on the Hong Kong Futures Exchange, raising $186 million, and Duoyuan Global Water Inc. listed on the NYSE raising $88 million. Another notable transaction was Broadwind Energy’s transfer of shares from OTC-BB to the NASDAQ on April 9th.

BY GEOGRAPHY
North America accounted for 66 percent of the total, while Europe and Israel accounted for 21 percent, India for 11 percent, and China for one percent.

  • EUROPE: European and Israeli companies raised USD $259 million in 30 disclosed rounds, down 13 percent from 1Q09 and down 17 percent from 2Q08. Energy Generation ($130.5 million, 11 deals) companies received the most investment, followed by Transportation ($51.0 million, 2 deals). The largest deal was German biogas plant developer agri.capital which raised $81.7 million and helped Germany ($95.4 million, two deals) gain the top position in the country rankings in Europe. The UK was second ($55.4 million, 13 deals), and Norway ($39.0 million, one deal) was third, thanks to Think Global’s $39 million round, the second largest deal of the quarter.
  • CHINA: There were six cleantech VC deals totaling USD $18 million in China. Advanced battery technologies raised USD $10 million to develop lithium-ion batteries. Hunan Joyfly New Material attracted USD $4.3 million to develop environmental friendly materials.
  • INDIA: Indian cleantech companies raised USD $131 million in seven investment rounds (of which one deal amount was not disclosed), an increase of 167 percent from the previous quarter and up 161 percent from the same period last year. The largest deal was a USD $42 million round for Hyderabad-based Ramky Enviro Engineers which specializes in recycling and waste. The most active investor was IL&FS (Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Limited) which invested in two deals. Other investors in the quarter included Blue Run Ventures, DFJ, Mumbai Angels, New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Axis Private Equity.

TOP INVESTORS

2Q09 Most Active Cleantech Venture Funds
Venture Capital Firm # of rounds Companies
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers 5 Agnion Energy, Ausra, Fisker Automotive, V-Vehicle, Zettacore
Khosla Ventures 4 Ausra, Cello Energy, HCL Clean tech, Transonic Combustion
Braemar Energy Ventures 4 Fulham, Nuventix, OPX Biotechnologies, Solazyme
Robeco Alternative Investments 3 AWS Eco Plastics, EPS Corporation, Turbine Air Systems
Draper Fisher Jurveston 3 Glycos Biotechnologies, Deeya Energy, Zettacore
VantagePoint Venture Partners 3 Alertme, Solazyme, Tendril Networks
Source: Cleantech Group (cleantech.com)

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