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Musings on Microgrids

Yakov Berenshteyn

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, we’ve seen a renewed focus in the media on climate change. As it so often does, the conversation points to technology as a lever for both mitigation and adaptation.

Microgrids in particular are suddenly top of mind again, covered in MIT Technology Review, Fast Company, Christian Science Monitor, and Huffington Post in a span of just five days. These pieces praise microgrids for enabling distributed renewables (mitigation) and taking critical customers like hospitals off the main power grid in emergencies (adaptation).

While we applaud any effort to raise awareness of clean technology, it’s important not to have a knee-jerk response to climate events like Sandy. In the case of microgrids, it’s not what these authors wrote – but rather what they didn’t write – that has us giving a word of caution: the latest reports lay out microgrids’ great technological benefits, but give little advice as to how an institutional or commercial electricity customer should navigate the overwhelmingly complex regulatory structure behind utility operations in order to actually develop and deploy a microgrid.

In many regions of the US, the reality is that it will be up to the utilities and …

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Waste-to-fuel firm addressing major market opportunity

Lisa Sibley

Tigard, Ore.-based Agilyx Corp., formerly known as Plas2Fuel Corp., has raised approximately $8.5 million to date and is currently seeking Series B funding of up to $10 million.

As this week’s Pitch o’ the Week company, Agilyx has already raised $2.1 million in convertible debt. Existing investors in the company include Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, Saffron Hill Ventures, and Reference Capital.

Agilyx CEO Chris Ulum told the Cleantech Group the private alternative energy company uses what it says is proven, commercially viable modular technology to convert difficult-to-recycle waste plastics, which typically end up in landfills, into synthetic crude oil and other valuable petrochemical products through a process that is scalable, versatile and environmentally friendly.

The company has been manufacturing and selling synthetic crude oil for about two years, deploying its first commercial system in 2008 in Tigard. The facility has a capacity of around 20,000 pounds per day of waste plastic, or the equivalent of about 55 barrels per day of oil, Ulum said.

Agilyx uses its patent pending process to “decompose” plastics back into hydrocarbons while separating undesirable organics (chlorine, bromine, etc.) entrained in the plastic, using what is known as “a continuous batch process.”…

10 reasons why the UK is a global cleantech leader

Guest Analyst: Shawn Lesser

The UK’s official commitment to cleantech is strong and growing. In its official Renewable Energy Strategy, the UK set a target of deriving 15 percent of its energy needs from renewables by 2020.

In keeping with that ambitious goal, the new UK Prime Minister, Conservative David Cameron, has wasted no time in highlighting the importance of the cleantech sector. “I don’t want to hear warm words about the environment. I want to see real action. I want this to be the greenest government ever… I intend to make decisions put off for too long to fundamentally change how we supply and use energy in Britain… To give the power industry the confidence it needs to invest in low carbon energy projects,” he said.

Here are my top ten reasons why I believe the UK is a cleantech leader:

1. The UK government has strong cross party political support for cleantech and climate change. The government recently passed the Climate Change Bill with cross party consensus meaning that the three main political parties in the UK agree that climate change is a serious challenge. Moreover, the Climate Change Act sets ambitious statutory limits on carbon emissions requiring a 34 percent cut …

Cleantech Focus Boston: Investing in the Opportunity

Dave Ewart

To borrow a quote from Woody Allen, “80% of success is showing up”. If you are considering investing in the China or India cleantech markets or seeking exposure to clean technology analysts, investors and ideas, attending the recent cleantech focus event in Boston, sure felt like Woody Allen was right. Attending an event gives you insight that even today’s always on technology and media can’t replicate, and that equates to success that can be achieved by personally investing in the opportunity and just showing up.

Duke Energy Looks To China For Innovation: Report From Cleantech Forum Boston

Greg Neichin

In a global market for technology and capital that knows fewer national borders, Duke, one of the largest energy producers in the US is headed to China, not in search for a new market… but for innovative technology. This bold move is an important indicator of an eastward shift in the nexus of innovation. It should catch the attention of executives and policymakers around the world as the purchasing dollars of large corporate customers will play a significant role in determining future cleantech leadership. The race is on and China is running at top speed.