Skyline Solar recently emerged from stealth mode, after an impressive 8-month R&D program from prototype to product, with the announcement of one of the first new high-gain solar (HGS) arrays on the market. The new HGS technology includes some well-known components of the more highly technical mega-arrays that brighten the arid regions of the globe, including motorized solar tracking, solar concentration, and thermal cooling.

According to Chief Executive Bob McDonald, the new arrays generate 10 to 50 times the yield of traditional systems as just a fraction of the cost. He also noted that this is accomplished using only one-tenth of the amount of silicon and less than half the parts of comparable systems. A trial installation is already generating electricity in San Jose, CA. This is one we’re definitely keeping an eye on!

For more information see: http://www.rdmag.com/ShowPR.aspx?PUBCODE=014&ACCT=1400000101&ISSUE=0905&RELTYPE=IDN&PRODCODE=00000000&PRODLETT=AI&CommonCount=0


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With the big lighting event this week in NYC (LIGHTFAIR ’09) – all eyes are on the best and brightest in the world of LEDs. And with all the incredible innovation, it was interesting to read today in Eric Taub’s technology column for the NY Times that there are still no entries in the twenty million dollar contest for an LED-powered lamp capable of replacing a standard 60-watt incandescent bulb. Sponsored by the Department of Energy the contest was announced at LIGHTFAIR last year, the prize will go to the company that can produce a solid-state replacement for the ubiquitous household bulb or the PAR 38 halogen bulb commonly used in businesses. The “L Prize” (short for Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize) will not only provide cash but also lucrative contracts with government organizations and heavy marketing and promotion support from partnering public utilities. Currently, there are 23 of these utility partners covering 29 states – pretty impressive market coverage for the winner! Looking at the opportunity ahead, I wonder which of the LED innovators will rise to the challenge. . . I only wish our light bulb was worth 20 million!

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Renewable energy company Genifuel Corporation today announced a license from Pacific Northwest National Labs for a process to turn algae into natural gas.  The company began as an algae biodiesel company, but discovered that making liquid fuel wasn’t feasible, given the problems presented by genetic modification requirements, leftover biomass, and the arduous water separation process.  A few companies in the space are devising techniques to work around this, but Genifuel has taken its technology and done something even cooler.

Now it takes algae that grows in ponds and actually cooks it, which produces a synthetic gas that is 65% methane and 35% carbon dioxide.  The carbon dioxide is pumped back into the algae ponds as food, and voila!  We’re left with a natural gas that will actually require lower subsidies than its liquid algae counterpart to be competitive with fossil fuels. 

Genifuel is still looking for funding (isn’t every innovator these days?), but these guys definitely deserve at least a second look from a VC.  Way to take lemons (or in this case, slimy green plants), and turn them into… well, energy.

Read more:  http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/a-new-use-for-algae-natural-gas/

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Google’s environmental efforts just got a little bit greener – and a whole lot cuter – over the weekend, when the company announced that it has hired a herd of goats to maintain its fields. That’s right, the company is bringing in 200 goats to clear weeds and brush from its property. According to Google real estate director Dan Hoffman, such a low-carbon approach to property maintenance aligns witb Google’s environmental philosophy, and delivers some side benefits as well – “It costs us about the same as moving, and goats are a lot cuter to watch than lawn mowers.”


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This week Gizmodo highlighted ten green technologies that can help boost the value of your home, while reducing your energy bills. Among those featured was GreenSwitch, which uses wireless technology to help reduce the power consumption in homes and offices by eliminating the drain of unused electricity caused by unattended climate control, forgotten lights and “phantom power” (the energy that appliances draw when they’re not in use, but still plugged in) —saving hundreds of dollars on electricity bills and greatly reducing energy use (GreenSwitch claims a savings of 20-35% for the average home).

According to the company web site, 1.32 lbs of carbon dioxide are generated for each kilowatt hour of electricity produced and the average home uses almost 12,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. The claim is that by reducing the amount of electricity you use by 20%, each household can reduce 3,168 lbs of carbon dioxide. With 111 million homes in the U.S. alone, the potential impact seems staggering.

Among GreenSwitch’s biggest fans is Ed Begley Jr., a.k.a. the greenest man in Hollywood, who was also featured on Oprah this week. While many celebrities support green initiatives, Ed may be one of the few celebrities to truly walk the walk, going so far as to peddle his energy-generating bicycle for ten minutes every morning to make toast. Many (including his wife) may consider the degree to which he has taken his green lifestyle a little extreme, but you can’t help but admire his commitment (albeit an obsession) to living green and using his celebrity to inspire others to ask themselves, “What changes am I willing to make?”

Read Gizmodo’s “Green Tech Upgrades That Boost Home Values and Reduce Bills” post : http://gizmodo.com/5233176/green-tech-upgrades-that-boost-home-values-and-reduce-bills?skyline=true&s=x or watch the “Living with Ed” TV series on HGTV: http://www.livingwithed.net/ to learn about other green technologies you can implement to green your home.

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Another interesting little piece popped up on earth2tech this morning that I just can’t resist sharing. As a PR firm, we love working with startups. Really, we do: the struggle to grow is an adrenaline rush, and the challenge of defining their identity even as they work to determine how they fit is oftentimes frustrating, but extremely rewarding. These days, green startups are exploding, however, and even VCs are having trouble gauging which ones are the real deal.

With stimulus funds now flowing into the smart grid, investors are rushing to get in the game. And the opportunities are indeed aplenty. According to Katie Fehrenbacher, picking the market leader should be easy: the firms that have managed to complete deals with larger utility companies are clearly a step ahead of the game, right? The problem is that most utility giants are currently “sampling” the smart grid landscape, and doing a host of smaller pilot deals with several startups. And this means that almost all of the contenders have some small deal with a larger utility company. So how to suss out the winners from the also-rans?

This is a really interesting discussion that will undoubtedly get hotter as the push toward energy efficiency grows.  Listen and learn…


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As expected, the celebration of Earth Day brought with it oodles of green news articles, broadcasts and discussions. But among all the chatter about the numerous issues plaguing Mother Earth, I got a chuckle thanks to an article by Jim Rapoza of eWeek.

Addressing the green technology dilemma facing geeks worldwide, Rapoza took a look at the dichotomy between the desires of tech nerds to stay ahead of the tech curve while being true to the environment. As he concedes, this can be a very lofty proposition.

“That’s because when it comes to enemies of the environment, most modern technologies rank pretty high on the list,” said Rapoza. “Technology products can consume lots of resources, both in their production and in their daily use. And, if these products are improperly disposed of, they can cause significant damage to the environment.”

As a reader of this blog, I can only assume that you are likely one of the people Rapoza’s describing. So I challenge you to take a look at the decisions you make every day! Before jumping ship to purchase the latest version of the iPhone, ask: Is it worth it? Many diehards will say yes, but just remember that striking a balance, although not always easy, is a necessary sacrifice if we hope to make the world a little better.

To read Jim Rapoza’s commentary, go to: http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Green-IT/Can-Geeks-Go-Green-And-Still-Stay-Ahead-of-the-Tech-Curve-133032/

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