cleantech insights

Finding (EV) Religion in Israel: 4 Reasons to Believe in Better Place

Greg Neichin

Like many American Jews visiting Israel, I found religion today.   It was not religion of the spiritual kind however, it was religion of the electric variety.  Today, I stand amongst the converted.   Converted to Better Place’s view of the world and the potential for the company to be a transformative force in the electric vehicle market.

I am a most unlikely convert.  I don’t own a car, let alone an electric one, and I’m quite content to not own one.  From a policy perspective, I would prefer to see governments focus on subsidizing better forms of public transportation before promoting more personal vehicle ownership.  More pointedly, I’ve been known to utter skeptical thoughts out loud in front of journalists about the electric vehicle market.  Apparently, last month I told a group of reporters that “electric vehicles are a bet that could turn out to be wrong”.  The point that I was attempting to make was that I believe some of the adoption forecasts in the market were too aggressive.  That nuance doesn’t make for a good headline.

Assuming that electric vehicles are indeed a bet though, there is no one with more chips on the table than …


Global Cleantech 100: An Interview with Mark McGough, CEO, Ioxus

Whitney Michael

I had the pleasure of speaking with Mark McGough, CEO of Ioxus, just after the conclusion of the “Asia Advantage” panel at the Global Cleantech 100 Summit on October 18.  He spoke on Ioxus’ strategy to expand in Asia alongside representatives from Boston-Power, LanzaTech and Waterhealth.

Ioxus, one of this year’s Global Cleantech 100 companies, makes ultracapacitors that other companies put in their products to make them more efficient and work better.  Mark was kind enough to speak with me about Ioxus’ product, strategy and being a part of the Global Cleantech 100.

Describe your ultracapacitor technology for us.

We make components that go into other people’s products.  If I can paraphrase BASF, we make their products better.  We make wind turbines more efficient, we make hybrid buses perform better, we make flashlights last longer.  In each case, we provide an ultracapacitor-based form of energy storage.

The number of ways designers are using ultracapitors exponentially increases each year.  it doesn’t have as much energy storage capacity as a battery, but it charges very quickly in a matter of seconds….you can charge and discharge it a million times and it’s much more powerful. So it has higher power density, so when you need …

Storage: Week in Review

Alon Gavrielov

Electrovaya, based out of Canada, announced a couple of projects and partnerships this week involving its lithium-ion clean battery technology.  That and a bit more below:

M&A/ Partnerships/Investments:

Bosch, joined by BASF and ThyssenKrupp System Engineering is planning to build a pilot production line for lithium-ion batteries in Germany.

Electrovaya has signed an agreement with Manitoba Hydro and the University of Manitoba to develop and test a battery system that uses old lithium ion batteries from electric cars for renewable energy sources.



Electrovaya has signed a contract to provide a lithium ion battery energy storage system of approximately 1.2MWh for demonstration purposes as part of a project involving several partners (and supported by the Canadian government) investigating storage applications for renewable energy generation.

NEC is testing out a home storage system within a recently built “Smart House” at the Institute of Industrial Science of Tokyo University.

Storage: Week in Review

Alon Gavrielov

A few interesting energy storage projects in the news: Beacon Power has received a grant from the state of Pennsylvania for a flywheel projects while ZBB has signed a contract to supply their storage system to the US Navy.  More below:

M&A/ Partnerships/Investments:

China International Trust and Investment Corporation (CITIC) has signed an agreement with the Bolivia government to explore lithium reserves in the country.

Nexeon secured Series C fundraising to scale up production of its silicon-anode technology for lithium-ion batteries.



Altair Nanotechnologies Inc. (Altairnano) has signed a contract with the Hawai’i Natural Energy Institute to supply an energy storage system for a test of solar energy integration

ZBB received a US Navy contract to supply a 500 KW zinc-bromide energy storage system to naval facility in California.

Beacon Power awarded $5 million grant by state of Pennsylvania for construction of a 20MW flywheel storage facility.

Green housing pilot project in Singapore to utilize Panasonic lithium-ion batteries for storage.

Storage: Week in Review

Alon Gavrielov

The last couple of weeks were full  of energy storage activity: Leyden Energy and Aquion Energy both raised new rounds from VC’s, A123 Systems announced that it will provide a storage system for a wind installation in China, and Zinc Air reached an agreement to supply an advanced energy storage system to Juhl Wind.  For more news and information, please read below:

M&A/ Partnerships/Investments:

Lithium-ion battery start-up Leyden Energy raised $20 million in venture capital funding to help expand their production capabilities.

Zinc Air reaches agreement with Juhl Wind for the installation of a 1MW advanced Zinc Redox flow battery storage system developed by Zinc Air.

Canon Investment Holdings closes investment (initiated in September 2010) in advanced battery company Altair Nanotechnologies.

Contour Energy Systems Announces Distribution Agreement With INEC for Spain and Portugal

Aquion Energy, a developer of sodium-ion batteries, has raised $20m from investors including Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers and Foundation Capital.

Beacon Power’s Flywheels Boost NY Grid


The end of June saw Beacon Power’s flywheel energy storage plant in Stephentown, NY reach its full operational capacity of 20 MW, and the company held an inauguration ceremony at the site just last week.  The Stephentown plant is the largest operating advanced energy storage facility in North America (traditional storage such as PSH and CAES are not included in the advanced category) and the first large-scale, grid-connected flywheel energy storage operation in the world.

Beacon’s flywheels consist of a substantial carbon-fiber composite rim, supported by a metal hub and shaft attached to an electric motor/generator.  This rotor assembly is stacked vertically with the massive rim at the top and levitated magnetically within a vacuum chamber to minimize friction.

When charging, the flywheel acts as a load, drawing electricity from the grid to rotate the rim at speeds reaching 16,000 rpm.  This spinning mass holds rotational energy that can then be harvested at a moment’s notice using the same electric motor/generator unit to feed power back onto the grid.

Such quick-responding, high capacity storage assets are useful for grid operators in providing frequency regulation services; following a variable load and balancing it more closely and efficiently with generating capacity than …

Storage: Week in Review

Alon Gavrielov

Two big partnerships are in the news this week: first, ABB & GM working on developing technology that uses Chevy Volt batteries for grid storage.  In addition, Ener1 and Wanxiang Electric Vehicle Company are forming a joint venture to manufacture lithium-ion storage devices and supply them to the Chinese market.  For more details, continue reading below:

M&A/ Partnerships/Investments:

GM and ABB demonstrated an energy storage system that combines electric vehicle battery technology from the Chevy Volt and grid-tied electric power inverter.  The companies are partnering to create a prototype which they say can be used either for large-scale grid storage or backup power for consumers

Ener1 will be partnering with Wanxiang Electric Vehicle Company in a joint venture to manufacture lithium-ion storage energy systems for the Chinese market.  Products will include both grid-storage and electric vehicle storage systems.

The University of Illinois has entered into a licensing agreement with Xerion Advanced Battery to bring the University’s StructurePore battery-charging technology to market.



Researchers developed a graphene gel that could yield ultrafast charging of batteries.,graphene-gel-could-yield-ultrafast-batteries.aspx

Porous Power Technologies: Making Li-ion Batteries Better

Hans Chen

The lithium-ion battery industry has been growing at a rapid pace in the past few decades. Almost every portable electronic device today is powered by lithium-ion batteries. Soon, these batteries will power millions of fuel-efficient hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles. Sometime in the future, they will store energy generated by the wind, sun and waves — and provide this energy for use wherever it is needed.

As the market of Li-ion batteries mature, the key factor in the competition will eventually shift from core technology to production cost, creating a niche for companies with advanced manufacturing processes. Porous Power Technologies (PPT) is one of these companies. It develops manufacturing process specifically for Li-ion battery production.

Founded in 2006, PPT owns a wealth of intellectual property that already allowed the company to impress several major battery manufacturers. Porous Power claims that its patent-pending SYMMETRIX® separators and MAS™ production system will allow lithium-ion cell manufacturers to improve performance and safety while realizing dramatic productivity and cost gains, addressing the issue that Li-ion cell manufacturers often focus on improving active materials and electrolytes and miss opportunities to improve performance, safety and cost with better separators (the microporous membranes that separate electrodes). According to …

Energy Storage: Week in Review

Alon Gavrielov

M&A/ Partnerships/Investments:


Is cleantech a service industry?

Josh Gould

Services, as any economist would tell you, are hugely important to the economies of developed countries.  In the European Union, where this post is being written (I’m here for our wonderful Amsterdam event), services make up 71% of the economy.  In the US, it is even higher (at 77%).  In fact, it’s likely that you – the reader – are part of the service economy.

Against this service-centric economy, popular media has often portrayed cleantech as a starkly different type of industry – one that is manufacturing-centric and commodity-reliant.  Think of utility scale wind turbines, or solar manufacturing, or even hybrids.  And these examples illustrate the stereotype is not entirely off the mark.  But we at Cleantech Group believe the next wave of cleantech will be much more heavily focused on services.  Here are just a few examples of where and how this is happening, in cleantech-sectors stereotyped as “dumb” or hardware-centric:

  • Lighting: Innovation in lighting types (e.g., LED, OLED, etc.) is extending the operational life of fixtures up to 100,000 hours.  While this is excellent for consumers, it challenges the traditional, large lighting companies’ business models of selling fixtures, waiting a few years, and selling the consumer new fixtures when the