Monday, November 14, 2011

Latest from: CleanTechnica

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Beetles + Solar Panels & a Wind Turbine = Irrigation (Video)

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 02:30 PM PST

the Airdrop - solar power, wind power, and irrigationIrrigation has been part of agriculture for centuries. From digging trenches to the river to setting up what amounts to giant sprinklers across a field, many techniques have been explored. One of the greenest is a new solar and wind power assisted device developed by an Australian university student, which extracts moisture from the air.

Edward Linnacre calls his idea the Airdrop. While he isn't the first to try and get water from thin air (so to speak), his goal was to make it cost-effective, robust, and relatively low-tech.

How It Works

The Airdrop has a turbine intake, which pulls the air underground and then pushes it through a series of copper pipes. The air is cooled to the temperature of the soil, which leads to condensation. The resulting water is gathered and stored in a tank until it can be delivered directly to the roots of the plants needing irrigation.

If it's windy enough, the turbine doesn't need another energy source. On those hot, still, awful days with no sign of moving air, solar panels charge a small battery which then powers the turbine and the irrigation pump (points for not one but two types of green energy!).

The Airdrop is even theoretically easy to manage – an LCD screen is included to display information such as tank water levels, battery life, and overall system health.

Beetles Did It First (Sort Of)

Edward has gone on the record as saying that his inspiration was the Namib beetle. The little bug collects water droplets during early morning fog. Using that image as a springboard, Edward made a very small-scale prototype, which successfully managed to collect about a quart of water a day.

Another source of inspiration for Edward was a relatively unknown side effect of drought in Australian rural communities, namely suicide. Farmers unable to cope with the primary effects of drought (nothing grows) may take their own lives in despair.

The James Dyson Award and Beyond

Edward has already won the James Dyson Award, which runs in 18 countries and aims to inspire students to "design something that solves a problem." The money from the award will go to further development of the Airdrop.

Of course, with such a neat idea, Edward may not have to rely on the prize money. According to his university, commercial developers in the U.S., Asia, and the Middle East have already contacted him about his device.

Source: Eco Business | Image: James Dyson Foundation via Youtube

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Top 10 Global Cleantech Cluster Association 2011 Later Stage Award Winners

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 02:00 PM PST

top 10 cleantech

These Global Top 10 are thriving in cleantech industry with innovative technologies and green job creation


The Global Cleantech Cluster Association, known as the global voice of cleantech, announced its Top 10 winners of the 2011 Later Stage Award Monday night at its awards gala co-hosted by An sTli Ghlas – The Green Way. The winning companies from North America and Europe represent the world's leading cleantech clusters in the categories of biofuels, energy efficiency/green buildings, new materials, renewable energy, solar, storage/smart grid, transportation, waste, water and wind energy.

"Our Top 10 winners are truly the best in class and companies to watch," says Ben Taube, Chairman of the GCCA. "In each category, these companies are making both broad strides in their global industries as well as working closely with their regional cleantech clusters to build sustainable green economies and jobs. We are thrilled to name them the GCCA Global Top 10 for 2011."

The GCCA Later Stage Award Top 10 winners were selected from an original pool of 4000 eligible companies represented by the GCCA's 33 member clusters. Each cluster conducted internal evaluations to nominate up to 10 companies in the 10 categories. In total, these member clusters nominated 185 companies for the 2011 Later Stage Award. That number was later narrowed to the Global Top 30 semi-finalists and the Top 10 winners through the evaluation of 28 leading venture capital investors and cleantech serial entrepreneurs, lead by Head Judge Dr. Peter Adriaens of the University of Michigan and CleanTech Acceleration Partners.

"These are truly the best of the best for 2011," said Shawn Lesser, co-founder of the GCCA. "The selection process was rigorous and I am proud to say these awards highlight some of cleantech's strongest stories and greatest successes." The 2011 Later Stage Award is sponsored by Grant Thornton International.

A full list of all the GCCA Later Stage Award 2011 Global Top 30 Finalists can be found at the GCCA website at:

"Cleantech clusters are critical for clean technologies to mature into mainstream life," added Cal Hackeman, Cleantech Global Leader at Grant Thornton International and sponsor of the GCCA Later Stage Award. "These winners highlight the most innovative technologies, business models and strategies coming out of the world's clusters and we are pleased to support and amplify their success."

The Global Top 10 Later Stage Award Winners – 2011


Best in Biofuels – Imperative Energy
Dublin, Ireland (cluster: An sTli Ghlas – The Green Way)

With offices in Ireland and the UK, Imperative Energy Ltd (IEL) is a bioenergy project developer with 35 active installations. Partnering with best-in-class technology providers from across Europe, IEL is expanding rapidly in terms of turnover and profitability. Having completed one round of fundraising (€29m) in 2009, IEL is embarking on a further round of fundraising to accelerate growth in UK and Ireland and prepare for entry into the US market.

Best of Energy Efficiency/Green Buildings – Albeo Technologies
Boulder, CO (cluster: Colorado Cleantech IA)

Albeo Technologies is a leading manufacturer of white-LED lighting systems for general illumination. The company has grown 775% over three years. Albeo's deployments include high-bay LED lighting for Apple's iCloud data center and Caterpillar's large engine manufacturing facility. To learn more go to

Best of New Materials – Beneq
Vantaa, Finland (cluster: Finish Cleantech)

Beneq is a supplier of equipment and coating technology. Beneq develops applications and equipment for cleantech and renewable energy fields, especially in glass, solar and emerging thin film markets. Coating applications include optics, barriers and passivation layers, as well as energy generation and conservation. Beneq also offers complete coating services.

Best of Renewable Energy – OpenHydro
Dublin, Ireland (cluster: An sTli Ghlas – The Green Way)

An Irish tidal energy technology company, OpenHydro's business is the design and manufacture of marine turbines for generating renewable energy from tidal streams. The company's vision is to deploy arrays of tidal turbines under the world’s oceans, silently and invisibly generating electricity at no cost to the environment. OpenHydro has a project portfolio spanning the USA, Canada, France, Scotland and the UK's Channel Islands with utility partners including EDF, Nova Scotia Power and SSE Renewables.

Best of Solar – Solaris Energy Solutions
Chicago, Illinois USA (cluster: Chicago Clean Energy)

Solaris Energy Solutions provides reliable and advanced solar technology for water/space heating, ventilation systems and photovoltaic electricity generation. As a founding member of the ISEA (Irish Solar Energy Association) and associated members of the German Solar Association, SES see itself at the forefront of helping to make progress towards a sustainable future with the emphasis on renewable energy.

Best of Storage/Smart Grid – PowerGenix
San Diego, California USA (cluster: CleanTECH San Diego)

PowerGenix is the leading developer of Nickel-Zinc (NiZn) batteries, which boast significant advantages over other advanced batteries in energy and power density, cost, safety, toxicity and recyclability. NiZn batteries are an ideal solution for applications that demand large amounts of power in a small, lightweight and safe package, especially micro-hybrid (start/stop) vehicles.

Best of Transportation – SAM Group
Zurich, Switzerland, (cluster: swisscleantech)

The Swiss company developed, built and launched the electric vehicle Sam EV II. Over 120 vehicles at a net price of EUR 14'000 were sold in several European countries yet. As a forerunner, Sam has a long term strategy in the field of lightweight, energy efficient
and affordable electric vehicles.

Best of Waste – Newalta
Brossard, Quebec (cluster: EcoTech Quebec)

Newalta is Canada's leading industrial waste management and environmental services company. The company pushes beyond conventional thinking about waste, to find solutions that transform waste into new products that will contribute to a customer's bottom line and reduce their environmental footprint. Where product recovery isn't possible, Newalta find ways to reduce the production of waste at the source.

Best of Water – Rentricity
New York, New York USA (cluster: NYC Acre)

Rentricity recovers energy from excess water pressure in pipes to produce clean, renewable electricity. Rentricity targets water, wastewater and industrial infrastructure to integrate its Flow-to-Wire configurations. Electricity produced can either be sold into the electric grid or used behind-the-meter.

Best of Wind – Moventas
Jyväskylä, Finland (cluster: Finish Cleantech)

Finnish Moventas is one of the largest manufacturers of wind turbine gears in the world. Moventas also provides extensive services for gear overhaul and maintenance.

Moventas' expertise is based on combining decades of experience with leading-edge technologies. The Moventas brand stands for reliability, responsiveness and assurance as a dependable partner.

About the Global Cleantech Cluster Association

Global Cleantech is a non-profit association, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. that creates conduits for companies to harness the tremendous benefits of international cleantech cluster collaboration in an efficient, affordable, and structured way. Global Cleantech provides a gateway for established and emerging cleantech companies to gain exposure to potential investors, new markets, influential networks, innovative technologies and best practices. GCCA was founded by swisscleantech, the Finnish Cleantech Cluster, and Watershed Capital Group For more information about Global Cleantech, please visit

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Department of Energy Funding Debuts Another Success: Fish-Friendly Hydropower

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 01:02 PM PST


Obama administration stimulus funding for renewable energy has resulted in yet another clean energy breakthrough. This time, in hydropower, with the development of a revolutionary new turbine technology that is both fish-friendly and energy efficient.

The new turbine has now aced tests at scale that were made possible with the increase in government funding through the Department of Energy in 2009, along with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and hydropower industry partners, in a collaborative research project with the objective of completing the remaining developmental engineering required for a “fish-friendly” hydropower turbine.

The problem:

Until now, fish mortality and energy production have been mutually exclusive. Traditional, highly efficient hydro power killed or maimed fish, but more fish-friendy projects were less efficient at making electricity, losing 8,500 megawatt-hours of production a year operating separate bypasses to allow fish through unharmed.

The primary challenge for this project was to complete the requisite engineering necessary to convert a conceptual turbine design into a design that could be built and be commercially competitive with existing hydropower turbine designs. It had to be both efficient, and fish-friendly. The resulting turbine achieves this, combining converting 94% of the water’s energy into electricity, with 98% survival of fish.

How government funding helped:

The Energy Department’s hydropower division ( had initially started working with engineers and scientists at Alden Laboratories to design a fish-friendly turbine in 1995, and conceptually, it worked. Early testing at Alden’s research facility had been extremely promising, and suggested that survival rates could near 100%, and for 40,000 species of fish.

But full-scale testing would be needed, and in 2009, that is what the project got, because under the increase in funding for clean energy by the Obama administration, increased funding made possible a critical round of several years of developmental engineering and full-scale testing at the Voith Hydro Hydraulic Test Stand Facility in York, Pennsylvania. Now those full-scale tests have produced results (full technical report of prototype testing) that have exceeded expectations, with a win-win for both fish survival and energy production.

How it works:

The difference essentially is size and speed. Most conventional hydropower turbines have between five and 18 fast-spinning blades, separated by gaps. The blades can strike and injure fish, and the gaps can trap them. The Alden turbine, by contrast, has three blades, no gaps, is bigger and rotates more slowly. These measures significantly reduce the danger of trauma or death to fish passing through, yet the turbine's larger size and other design considerations are optimized to preserve high efficiency and energy production.

Over the next three years, a demonstration of the new design using a 10 MW Alden Turbine will be tested at the Brookfield Renewable Power School Street Project in Cohoes, New York.

Why it matters for our future:

With a breakthrough like this, for the first time ever, hydropower becomes a source able to support both the clean and efficient electricity production needed to support our civilization, along with the intact ecosystem that is the basis for one.

Largely developed in the nineteenth century, and later found to have serious ecosystem impacts, resulting in a slackening pace of development: hydropower now supplies only some 7% of US electricity. But its potential is much greater, especially in the Pacific Northwest and the North Atlantic states, where precipitation is high, and already beginning to increase with climate change.

The Alden Fish-Friendly Turbine will change the game for hydropower generation in the United States, and with the potential for ecologically-responsible development of thousands of megawatts of hydropower resources, it it is likely to have significant export potential as well.


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Is Cold Fusion Heating Up?

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 07:47 AM PST

Could cold fusion technology revolutionize energy generation?

Editor’s Note: I wouldn’t bet on it…

Cold fusion is considered by many to be the Holy Grail of energy production: a contained, low-energy nuclear reaction that could theoretically produce endless, self-sustaining, and incredibly cheap energy. But, just like the Holy Grail, it has been more myth than reality.

Countless scientists have tried to successfully demonstrate cold fusion, and all have failed – until now. energyNOW! anchor Thalia Assuras takes a look at a technology that could change the way we think about energy. The full segment is available below:

Late last month, an Italian inventor named Andrea Rossi, claimed a successful test demonstration of cold fusion at the University of Bologna. His power plant, named E-Cat (for Energy Catalyzer), passed its biggest test yet, producing energy for over five hours. The test aimed to generate one megawatt, and averaged 470 kilowatts over the test duration, but fell short of its target because of a technical glitch.

Rossi says his technology succeeded where others have failed because he uses a secret catalyst to react with small amounts of nickel powder and hydrogen gas. The resulting reaction creates energy in the form of heat without any emissions, radioactive materials, or nuclear waste. The E-Cat's energy output was measured by tracking water boiled off during the reaction, and Rossi says his test produced as much energy as 70 gallons of gasoline.

The E-Cat was built for and tested in front of an unnamed American company that intends to commercialize the technology, but questions still remain about the E-Cat's viability. For instance, several reporters were allowed to witness the test, but only for a few minutes at a time. And, the E-Cat remained plugged into a power supply throughout the demonstration.

Nonetheless, Rossi says he expects the E-Cat to go into mass production soon, so time will tell if cold fusion has finally found a place in the sun.

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World’s Largest Tidal Power Array — Off French Coast

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 07:30 AM PST

Tidal array off the coast of France will be world’s largest when complete in 2012.


A reader actually shared news about this project with me over 2 months ago, but due to the steady stream of so many interesting cleantech stories, other responsibilities, and the fact that the shared page was in French and I had to learn French first (ok, just used Google Translate), it took me a while to get to it. The project is a “gigantic” (for tidal power) project off the coast of Paimpol-Bréhat in Brittany, France. It is a project of Irish tidal technology specialist OpenHydro and the large French utility company EDF.

The project will eventually include four 2-MW tital turbines from OpenHydro. The turbines are being installed 35 meters (115 feet) deep. They are 22 meters (72 feet) high and weigh 850 tonnes.

openhydro tidal turbine

When completed in 2012, the tidal power project will be able to power up to 4,000 homes. EDF started the project in 2004 and began work on it in 2008. Total cost? About 40 million euros ($55 million).

While this is the world’s first large-scale, grid-connected tidal energy farm, OpenHydro has projects in the US, Canada, France, Scotland and the UK’s Channel Islands.

OpenHydro won the Engineers Ireland Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Company of the Year award last month and was a winner of the 2011 Later Stage Awards announced today by the Global Cleantech Cluster Association.

Tidal power is, obviously, still a nascent industry. But its advantages, such as low environmental impact and it being “out of sight” (i.e. not in anyone’s backyard), make it a renewable energy source that can certainly grow in use in the coming decades. I think the main issues are are just bringing costs down and getting initial project like this up, proving its viability and utility.

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Give Solar while Going Solar

Posted: 14 Nov 2011 07:00 AM PST

go solar & give solar

A new program from Sungevity and Empowered by Light, ”Every Child Has a Light,” connects environmental goodness with social goodness. Who doesn’t like to be both and environmental and a social leader? How does the program work? Well, basically, Sungevity is donating a solar light kid to one Zambian school in need for each U.S. solar panel installation that it’s responsible for.

“Each Pharox solar light kit, a product of Lemnis Lighting, is a compact solution in a reusable package containing a triple LED lamp, a solar panel and a built-in USB connection to charge mobile devices.”

With lighting being a challenge for many Zambians, and dangerous and toxic kerosene lamps being a common option, this program will help cut the use of fossil fuels and improve Zambians’ local environments.

"Solar power is a sustainable way to light up a child's world.  The program allows us to empower communities with alternative energy sources that can fuel both their everyday needs and their future prospects," said Danny Kennedy, Sungevity president. "When going solar also means giving solar, it's a powerful opportunity to reduce our energy footprint and utility costs locally while also enabling healthier, safer living globally."

“At Empowered by Light, we think its possible for some developing nations to literally leap-frog decades of fossil fuel development and use," said Marco Krapels, Empowered by Light co-founder. “We are thrilled to partner with Sungevity to bring solar power to the people of Zambia and help make this vision a reality.” Leapfrogging fossil fuels — one of my key points in my “Energy Opportunities” interview for CNBC and Harvard Business Review.

Solar Light Kits in Zambia photo via Empowered by Light

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