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Next Step Living raises $18M for home energy efficiency

Next Step Living raises $18M for home energy efficiency | Clean Technology | Scoop.it
A startup in Boston called Next Step Living, which is a one-stop shop for making buildings more energy efficient, has raised an $18.2 million series C round of funding.

 

This is significant considering how hard it is for cleantech startups to raise funds right now. Next Step Living has developed an energy efficient audit service for homes and corporate buildings.

 

This round of funding was led by VantagePoint Venture Partners, and included existing investors Black Coral Capital and Mass Green Energy Fund. However, the firm is still looking to raise another $6 million.

 

Much of this money will be used to grow the 330 person company to take on more customers as there services grow in demand

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Garage Ventures Launches New Corporate Fund for Cleantech : Greentech Media

Garage Ventures Launches New Corporate Fund for Cleantech : Greentech Media | Clean Technology | Scoop.it
“Fresh money coming into cleantech”...

 

Many venture capital firms are pulling funding from cleantech investments and the overall number of cleantech-focused VC partners is dropping because there have not been many successful exits in this space to date.

 

However, there has been a growth in cleantech investment by corporate venture investors. Garage Ventures plans on tapping this capital with a new approach to cleantech investing, working with corporate partners.

 

The first fund will have a focus on energy technology and cleantech materials. The model works based on the principle that corporate investors have different revenue expectations, longer timeframes, and potentially deeper pockets. If this model is successful, we will likely see others follow suit.

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Going Big With Onsite Wind Power In California | Earthtechling

Going Big With Onsite Wind Power In California | Earthtechling | Clean Technology | Scoop.it
It's not a mainstream option like solar, but several California companies have gone green with giant onsite wind turbines.

 

This past summer Walmart put up a 1-megawatt turbine at a distribution center near Red Bluff, California. Then, cement maker Cemex put one up of the same size in Madison, California. In fact, the installer and owner of these on-site wind projects, Foundation Windpower, will be installing  two more turbines for Cemex, totalling 3.3 MW in the near future for their SoCal plants.

 

These installations have been cropping up all over California due to a state-wide $1.25 per watt taxt credit program which makes these an economical oppportunity for firms to save big money on their energy bill.

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Clean Tech Firms Vulnerable to Global Business Risks, Chubb Study Finds | PRNewswire | Rock Hill Herald Online

Clean Tech Firms Vulnerable to Global Business Risks, Chubb Study Finds | PRNewswire | Rock Hill Herald Online | Clean Technology | Scoop.it

According to a news study from the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, it appears that many cleantech firms are not doing a good job of managing business risks associated with globalization from sourcing components and shipping goods and employees across borders. 

 

According to the survey of cleantech firms:

36% have not created a supply chain disruption plan

40% rely on foreign businesses for their supply chain

45% source components from Chinese companies

75% have little or no concern about supply chain stability

 

While entrepreneurs in the cleantech industry are used to taking risks, overlooking strategies to reduce supply chain exposure could hurt their companies viability if something like a natural disaster shut down their suppliers.

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Asian Clean Tech-Company Sales Overtake Europe Revenue, E&Y Says

Asian clean-technology companies’ sales overtook those of European peers last year on surging Chinese renewable-energy investments, Ernst & Young said.

 

This is interesting news, as asian companies revenue rose 20 percent to $56 billion, and European sales fell by 32 percent to $30 billion.

 

Robert Seiter, head of Ernst & Young's German cleantech team claims that this change is the result of Chinese companies commiting to clear targets and pursuing aggressive growth strategies that are radically focused on sales growth at the expense of profit margins. This is evident if you look at the industry as a whole that had combined global losses of $6.6 billion, compared to profit of $5.1 billion in 2010.

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The Antenna Group Top 10 Cleantech Trends to Watch in 2013 - The Sacramento Bee

Antenna Group is the nation's largest clean technology public relations firm, representing companies in sectors including renewable energy, energy efficiency, alternative fuels, energy storage, finance, waste management and water. They have generated a list of the top 10 cleantech trends for 2013.

 

In short, in 2013 they expect lost of consolidation of firms, as well as commercialization of some older technologies that have been taking a while to adopt. Here's an abbreviated list:

 

1. "Plug-and-Play" solar, with inverters packaged with solar panels

2. Gas-to-liquids (GTL) technologies that turn natural gas into liquid fuels for transportation to take off domestically

3. Military stepping up utilization of green fuels

4. Sustainable products

5. Greater fear of electric grid instability from fluctuating alternative sources (wind/solar)

6. Corporations beefing up sustainability initiatives

7. New financing models for energy-efficient retrofits

8. Energy benchmarking for commercial buildings

9. Virtual Net Metering (VNM) allows a group of buildings to utilize one solar power source

10. Emerging countries taking cleantech lead

 

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The demise of yet another thin film solar maker

The demise of yet another thin film solar maker | Clean Technology | Scoop.it
Another thin film solar company stumbles. Global Solar appears to be a casualty of an imbalance of supply and demand that has persisted for two years and knocked out dozens of solar manufacturers worldwide.

 

This company based in Arizona developed ultra-thin solar panels using CIGS technology (copper, indium, gallium and selenium) to convert sunlight into electricity. They sold strings of these CIGS solar cells that could be assembled into panels. 

 

These were a good solution for roofs that couldn't bear the heavy weight of solar alternatives. However, these cells had a big problem. They were very moisture-sensitive. They came out with protective films to help this, but this made the cells too expensive to still be attractive.

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A Sustainable Net Zero Hotel...In The Desert | Earthtechling

A Sustainable Net Zero Hotel...In The Desert | Earthtechling | Clean Technology | Scoop.it
The Lotus Hotel is prefabricated net zero hotel under construction in China's Xiangshawan desert that requires no water, no concrete and no foundation.

 

At around 322,000 square feet, the Lotus Hotel is constructed from a series of steel elements that are built in advance and fixed in the desertsand that shift with changing winds. For this reason they don't require a foundation. Load bearing walls keep the building up, and then they are covered with a plaster made from desert sand to make them more aesthetically pleasing.

 

The name of the building comes from the shape of the array of repeating suare and triangluar panels that resemble lotus flowers. These protect the hotel from wind and heat from the surrounding desert.

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How battery startups are trying to survive in tough times

How battery startups are trying to survive in tough times | Clean Technology | Scoop.it

The demand for lithium-ion batteries hasn't grown as quickly as many battery developers have anticipated, and that leaves a rather bleak near-term outlook for startups who had counted on the rise of electric car, grid storage and even laptops as lucrative markets.

 

So where are lithium-ion companies looking? This expensive technology needs to find a market with high growth prospects. Firms such as Leyden Energy are looking to tablet makers as future customers. They are partnering with chipmaker NVIDIA to help design lithium-ion batteries that are flat to fit into slimmer consumer electronics.

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A solar funnel that could lead to more efficient cells

A solar funnel that could lead to more efficient cells | Clean Technology | Scoop.it

MIT researchers are looking to make more efficient solar cells by creating a funnel-like structure in a semiconductor material in order to make use of a broader spectrum of sunlight.

 

Most solar panels on the market today are not very efficient at using converting energy from the sun to a usable form. This is one of the reasons that many feel solar cells are too expensive and have too long of a payback period for comlpete mainstream adoption.

 

Research--like this MIT study--has led to some promising new technologies in the early stages that could mean much more efficient solar cells in the next 10-20 years. This funnel-like structure allows for more energy to be harvested per acre of land, which can mean a lot more power generation.

 

 

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Electric Cars are a Niche? Or Able to Beat Conventionals?

Electric Cars are a Niche?  Or Able to Beat Conventionals? | Clean Technology | Scoop.it
Are electric cars a Niche?  Or just coming into their own?

 

Including hybrids, there have been just under 400,000 electric vehicles sold this year, or 3.3% of auto market share. However EVs only make up 10% of this figure. Numbers have been improving as the prices have been going down, but these cars are still a little too expensive for large sales numbers.

 

Even though EVs are not exactly the most economical decision there are still several reasons why customers would prefer them. They are silent when driving, have incredible torque and acceleration, better handling and turn radius, and without as many moving parts and fluid they require a lot less maintenance than internal combustion engines.

 

The bottom line is that EVs will need to come down significantly in price befor sales numbers improve.

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2012 Green Tech Holiday Shopping Guide: 8 Gadgets For Eco-Geeks | Earthtechling

2012 Green Tech Holiday Shopping Guide: 8 Gadgets For Eco-Geeks | Earthtechling | Clean Technology | Scoop.it

Looking for something special for that green tech enthusiast on your list? Green Techling has put together a holiday shopping guide to help. They have selected eight devices that cost under $100 that can help conserve energy.

 

The list includes solar chargers for various purposes, a hand crank shaver and espresso maker, a pedal powered light for your bike, and a shower pebble that changes colors to let you know when you've taken too long.

 

If your shopping for a green friend then check out this list!

 

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The Psychology of Small-Scale Solar

The Psychology of Small-Scale Solar | Clean Technology | Scoop.it
Solar's economics are increasingly attractive yet often poorly understood. Does solar have an image problem?

 

Economists feel that it must not make sense for small businesses to utilize solar installations because if it did there would be a lot more of them. But the financial results of solar installations have shown the contrary; in fact, installing solar does make fiscal sense for many business owners for both short- and long-term benefits.

 

This article from AOL Energy implies that the issue is that consumers are not informed enough about the benefits of solar. One recent study found that 92 percent of Democrat and Republican voters feel the U.S. should develop and use more solar energy.So what needs to be done? Solar manufacturers need to change minds by marketing the financial benefits of installations.

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Africa's Biggest Solar Farm to be Built in Ghana (155 Megawatts)

Africa's Biggest Solar Farm to be Built in Ghana (155 Megawatts) | Clean Technology | Scoop.it

The Nzema project, part of the bigger Desertec African solar project, plans on 630,000+ solar PV modules with a combined generation capacity 155-megawatts. If all goes well, it should add about 6% to Ghana's total electricity generation capacity (enough to power 100,000 homes!)

 

The project is being developed by U.K. firm Blue Energy, and will be built by Mere Power Nzema Ltd. So far they have land, a development plan, licensing, and a feed-in tariff, so its success is liekly. The project will start by the end of 2013 and is planned to be completed by 2015.

 

 

 

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A123 auction exposes fears of China, and politicization of electric vehicles

A123 auction exposes fears of China, and politicization of electric vehicles | Clean Technology | Scoop.it
The auction of U.S. battery maker A123, expected to kick off today, will determine if the tech will stay in the U.S. with Jonhson Controls or be snapped up by Chinese conglomerate Wanxiang.

 

This long awaited auction is expected to start Thursday (12/13) and will determine if the American battery firm will go ahead with its $125 million bid for A123 Systems's auto business, or whether Chinese auto parts giant Wanxiang will swoop in to take the technology at a higher bid.

 

This is disconcerting because the U.S. government put a large amount of money into this firm and into developing this technology. Additionally, A123 had several contracts with the U.S. military. In general, many in the U.S. don't want Chinese tech firms coming in and buying up distressed assets. 

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Predictions for cleantech in 2013 | Kachan & Co.

Predictions for cleantech in 2013 | Kachan & Co. | Clean Technology | Scoop.it
What will 2013 have in store for cleantech/greentech?

 

Next year is shaping up to be something of a year of backtracking for the cleantech industry, according to an analysis by Kachan & Co., a cleantech research and consulting firm.

 

Here is an abbreviated version of their 2013 predictions.

 

On the decline:

* Venture investment in cleantech likely to decline even further than it did in 2012

* Poor progress in grid-scale power storage to compensate for fluctuating generation will hurt solar and wind

 

Changing perspectives:

* Clean coal technologies will gain respect and improve their reputation

* Innovations in internal combustion engines (ICE) will put electric vehicles at risk

 

Industries moving towards cleantech:

* Conservative mining companies will start to embrace cleantech options to reduce operating expenses

* Agricultural leaders will be racing to meet consumer demand for greener food production

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5 reasons why the off grid solar revolution will be driven by cell phones

5 reasons why the off grid solar revolution will be driven by cell phones | Clean Technology | Scoop.it
The opportunities for off-grid solar are just kicking off, and there will continue to be synergies between the proliferation of cell phones and the mobile, decentralized type of clean power that off-grid solar provides.

 

More than 20% of people in the world lack access to electricity, mainly in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Some believe solar power can help get electric grid jump-started in these areas, similar to how cell phones have surpassed landlines around the world. In terms of affordability, off-grid is the low hanging fruit of the solar energy industry.

 

Below are five reasons why the solar energy opportunity in off-grid markets will be driven by cell phones:

 

1. Hundreds of millions of people don't have a good way to charge their phone

2. New revenue streams for small-scale solar entrepreneurs

3. New financing payment methods, such as "Pay As You Go"

4. New approaches for operations and maintenance

5. Cell phone towers can economically be powered by off-grid solar as well

 

 

 

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Report: Better Place laying off hundreds

Report: Better Place laying off hundreds | Clean Technology | Scoop.it

After slow sales in Israeli — the first test bed and flagship market — Better Place is laying off hundreds of employees. The company is struggling with losses as it figures out how to make Israelis want to sign up for electric car charging like a cell phone service.

 

After the departure of the founding CEO, and raising new funds this year, the electric car company has been struggling. 140 people were just laid off, and another 150 to 200 people are likely to be laid off soon.

 

Their idea of charging a subscription-like servcie for electriv vehicle charging is a novel one, but the model isn't proven out yet. They have only sold 23 cars so far in Israel, the testing market. Israeli customers don’t seem to be taking to the rates and plans as well as expected.

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Japan: a beacon for weary solar makers

Japan: a beacon for weary solar makers | Clean Technology | Scoop.it

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, a solar renaissance started in Japan. Many Large scale solar projects started up around the country.

 

Five months after Japan kick-started a clean power incentive program, the country is seeing a boom in solar power project installation. That’s good news for solar manufacturers who are seeing a decline in mature markets such as Germany and hungry for new territories.

 

San Jose, California based company, SunPower, is benefitting from this growth in the Japanese Solar market, as they just finished signing a sales agreement with Toshiba to deliver 100MW of solar panels through 2018. This is a big deal for the firm.

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The Gas Station of the Future Just Opened

The Gas Station of the Future Just Opened | Clean Technology | Scoop.it

Propel Fuels is using more than $20 million in grants and $19 million in venture capital to build 100 alternative-fuel filling stations across California.

 

These fueling stations allow drivers to pump gasoline, ethanol, and biodiesel. This is in response to a problem that makes alternative-fuel vehicles unattractive to potential buyers, there are not a lot of convenient locations to refuel. At these stations cyclists can also get tune-ups, and commuters can find public transit schedules.

 

Propel is laying the foundation for what the CEO Matt Horton calls the “slow, but exciting” transformation of the U.S. automotive industry. Despite increased consciousness about their benefits, roughly only 3,100 of the 160,000 filling stations across the country sell alternative fuels, according to the Department of Energy.

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US Plans First Offshore Wind Lease Auctions | Earthtechling

US Plans First Offshore Wind Lease Auctions | Earthtechling | Clean Technology | Scoop.it

The Obama administration says it will schedule lease auctions for wind power development in federal waters off Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Virginia in 2013.

 

This administration says this will be the first of other similar leases. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy says the country could easily deploy 54 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030, all of which from new installations. As a comparison, Europe has 1,503 gird-connected offshore wind turbines in 56 wind farms across 10 countried that have a combined total capacity of 4.3GW. 

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Greenpeace targets Amazon in clean cloud stunt

Greenpeace targets Amazon in clean cloud stunt | Clean Technology | Scoop.it

A website that claims to be from Amazon about launching a clean-powered pilot project for its AWS services, alas, isn't true. It's a stunt by the environmentalist at Greenpeace to get Amazon to add more clean power to its cloud.

 

In an attempt to convince Amazon to become more green, Greenpeace made a website called "greenAWS.com" and made these false claims. In a report earlier this year, Greenpeace gave Amazon (as well as Apple) failing grades for its failure to source more clean power, while the group gave other Internet providers like Google and Yahoo passing grades.

 

Google, in fact, has been a pioneer in this space, and has invested close to $1 billion into clean power projects.

 

Hopefully this move by Greenpeace will encourage Amazon to promote more clean energy projects, to keep up a strong corporate image. 

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Solazyme Surges on Expansion Plans With ADM, Bunge

Solazyme Surges on Expansion Plans With ADM, Bunge | Clean Technology | Scoop.it

Solazyme Inc., which makes oil products from sugar-consuming algae, surged the most in seven months after agreeing to expand production capacity through partnerships with Bunge Ltd. and Archer-Daniels-Midland Co (ADM).

 

Solazyme, which makes oil products from sugar-consuming algae, will be expanding production thanks to new partnerships with Bungthe agreement with ADMe Ltd. and Archer-Daniels-Midland Company.

 

Under the terms of the agreement with ADM, Solazyme will initially target the production of 20,000 metric tons of oil in 2014, with an aim to increase production to 100,000 metric tons in subsequent years.

 

This shows that there may be some significant prospects for algal biofuels; a technology once thought too expensive for commercial applications!

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Meet the next generation of air energy storage players

Meet the next generation of air energy storage players | Clean Technology | Scoop.it
So what if it's geeky power grid gear. Entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators are working hard on developing the next-generation of compressed air energy storage technology. Like an air battery. And Bill Gates is a fan.

 

In order to meet the needs of the growing about of unpredictable generation of solar and wind and other renewable sources on the grid, there is a growing demand for a compensating energy storage infrastructure. Compressed air energy storage tenchnology is gaining some attention from investors like Bill Gates and Peter Thiel, and many power companies are interessted in its promise. Why? Because it we can't use all of the energy from fluctuating energy sources without storing the nergy, and batteries and other energy storage technologies are too expensive so far. So if we can develop a cheaper solution, the cost of clean energy goes down!

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Hawaii Gets Big Wind, Helping Give Oil The Boot | Earthtechling

Hawaii Gets Big Wind, Helping Give Oil The Boot | Earthtechling | Clean Technology | Scoop.it
The 69-megawatt Kawailoa wind farm on Oahu's North Shore goes online; it could help the island avoid burning 300,000 barrels of oil per year.

 

First Wind claims that this new wind farm will be able to meet 5 to 10 percent of the annual electricity demand on Oahu. One of the reasons for this farm's development was a Hawaii state law that mandates 70 percent of the state's energy come from clean sources by 2030, with 40 percent from local, renewable sources.

 

Additional wind projects from First Wind are on the way, with another farm in Oahu that can generate 30-MW, which is enough to power 7,700 Oahu homes.

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