Posts Tagged ‘renewable energy’

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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With so much else going on, it’s easy to overlook how much the Obama administration has done to support greentech in its first 100 days in office. The president’s proposed budget includes grants for clean power, tax credits for solar, wind, geothermal and energy efficiency programs, smart grid funding, weatherization programs and a new tax credit for cleantech hardware manufacturing. The Department of Transportation has raised fuel efficiency standards for the first time in almost three decades, and the EPA issued a groundbreaking ruling that may allow the agency to regulate carbon emissions. The president has also set a goal of creating 3 million green collar jobs as part of his plan to increase the country’s renewable energy production.

All this, plus the new vegetable garden in the White House backyard. It’s quite an impressive start.


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As the concept of environmental responsibility reaches a critical mass, the venture capital community appears to be following suit. According to findings from the Venture Capital Association, clean technology emerged as the fastest growing area for venture capital investment last year. The 54% rise to $4.1 billion in clean technology investment towers over the $444 million raised just four years ago.

This increased venture capital interest, combined with a $787 billion United States economic stimulus plan featuring considerable incentives for green initiatives, has environmental-focused start-ups clamoring for a piece of the pie.

“You have kind of a perfect storm where you see technology at the point where it can actually be commercialized and the government recognizing the need,” said Emily Mendell in a recent article posted by Reuters. The Venture Capital Association’s vice president of strategic affairs went on to say that, “You have consumers who are ready to embrace the technology. All these things are contributing to an interest in investment.”

To read more about the growth of the clean technology sector, read Deborah Cohen’s article at: http://www.reuters.com/article/deborahCohen/idUSTRE5373IS20090408?sp=true

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While the venture capital industry worldwide is feeling the effects of the current economic conditions, there is one area that doesn’t seem to be feeling the pinch as much: renewable energy. According to Greentech Media Inc., venture capital investment in green technologies totaled $836.1 million in the first quarter of 2009.

Remarks made by Ira Ehrenpreis, General Partner at greentech investment firm Technology Partners, include the following: “The $800 million of investment this quarter is more capital than has been invested annually for most of the years that we’ve been investing in the cleantech sector.” Eric Wesoff, analyst at GTM Research and Greentech Innovations Report author added, “Despite the slump, VC investors remain optimistic about the greentech sector and eventual exits in this space.”

Greentech Media noted that solar continues to be the leading sector with $356.6 million in investments, followed by energy storage with $121.5 million and biofuels with $94.15 million.

More information: http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/permalink/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20090401005987&newsLang=en

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As the saying goes, “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” Or in this instance, it’s a case of artificial trees mimicking those found in nature. London-based SolarBotanic is banking on the concept of Biomimicry, which it describes as “innovation inspired by nature.” Attempting to capitalize on the designs and processes already found in nature, SolarBotanic has taken nature’s design and combined it with high-tech materials to engineer the Nanoleaf, which when put together with other Nanoleaves create a new tree species of sorts called Energy Harvesting Trees (EHTs). Capable of harvesting multiple energy sources, these EHTs take the sun, wind and heat collected in their tree canopies and convert the energies into clean electricity, without causing visual pollution or long-lasting damage to the environment or ecosystems.

The concept is promising, especially when you consider how far reaching the possibilities for this technology truly are. In late March, SolarBotanic announced a plan that would place its aesthetically pleasing EHTs along city highways throughout Europe.

“Each kilometre will be able to generate approximately 350,000 kWh per year, enough electricity to power approximately 60 average size houses and protect the environment by preventing the release of up to 500 tons of CO2 annually…Imagine if you can, highways and freeways lined with beautiful looking trees that not only create a barrier against the elements, but at the same time generate electricity 24 hours a day 7 days a week.”

Yes. Imagine, indeed!

Read more at: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2009/03/prweb2246214.htm

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In yet another interesting application of Google Earth, the National Audubon
Society and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have joined forces
to create an interactive map designed to help environmentalists, clean
energy developers and utility companies identify the optimal areas for
siting renewable power generation and transmission facilities. The mapping project, which covers 13 western states, identifies areas where land use is
legally restricted. Other data layers highlight areas that should be avoided
in energy development, including habitats critically important to wildlife.
Users exploring specific areas, such as those proposed for energy
development, can easily see where land is legally off-limits and which
of the remaining areas have unique qualities that deserve special protection
to avoid imperiling sensitive resources.     www.nrdc.org/PathtoGreenEnergy

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