cleantech insights

All together now – the case of the cleantech hub in the Basque Country

Stephen Marcus

Many in the cleantech industry bemoan that “times are difficult”. However, I argue that “times are different” – different in terms of where and how technology is conceived, developed, financed, and ultimately deployed. The encouraging truth for the sector is that there is a vast and growing amount of cleantech innovation activity occurring globally, financial appetite from investors (albeit in different pockets in different parts of the world than what we were used to), and a desire from incumbent companies in the most established industries to deploy them. The challenge is that cleantech stakeholders cannot rely on the same old tools in the tool box to rise to success, and thus new types of relationships in new areas of the world will become more crucial. This type of attitudinal change is more difficult to achieve.

However, I believe that there are regions out there who definitely “get it”. What struck me from attending the Cleantech Forum in Munich was the revolutionary mind set of a new cleantech hub emerging in the Basque Country in Southern Europe which I believe others, even those further down the path of developing a cleantech hub, can learn from. This was for three main …


Guest Analysis: cleantech in Warsaw calling Palo Alto!

Parker Snyder

My iPhone is pixie dust and magic. My hypothesis was re-affirmed the other day when I was in New York to meet with the portfolio manager of a hedge fund, and I called back home across the ocean to talk to my ten month old son. With the aid of my smart phone (and my wife), I could look into the eyes of the broccoli monster, and tell him – face to face – that I loved him.

But the iPhone could do better. Instead of staring into a tiny 2 inch touch screen, imagine if I could project my toothless bundle of joy onto the wall. Imagine if I could turn my smart phone into a movie projector. Would that app be worth $1.99?

In a few years, your iPhone will be able to do just that: project video on the wall of your home. When it does, you may have a crystalline laser technology to thank – or more specifically – the next generation of semi-conductor crystals derived from gallium nitride. These crystals give off more light at less energy. These crystals will allow your smart phone to project movies. When, finally, human kind has managed to condense …

Dirty Cleantech? GlassPoint’s Challenge to the Scope of our Sector


If you were to spend time in our research department you would normally hear only the patter of keyboards, with occasional bubbles of technical questions punctuating the tranquil atmosphere. However one morning this week the peace was broken by animated argument, all over one company and whether it should be profiled in our i3 platform: GlassPoint Solar.

A perfect test case for any definition of cleantech, GlassPoint has developed an innovative solar system for producing steam to be used in extracting oil. On the one hand this technology removes the need to burn natural gas to produce steam, on the other it reduces the cost of extracting oil. You can imagine the lines of debate, one side pointing negative environmental impact of oil and therefore anything that makes its extraction cheaper, while the other pointing to reduced natural gas consumption.

An over-simplistic labeling of this dichotomy would be to characterize the two sides as ‘idealists’ and ‘pragmatists’, however I believe this is to miss a fascinating insight into the nature of cleantech. If you were to measure the immediate environmental impact of GlassPoint and its customers you would find little clean to justify its inclusion as clean

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.”…

How green was my trip to the Dry Creek Valley

Whitney Michael

Up in wine country last week, I got a chance to taste some delicious wine and see first hand how some innovative wineries are implementing clean technologies.

Ridge Vineyards, aside from making amazing Zinfandel, have built an energy efficient, environmentally friendly tasting room at their Lytton Springs location.  The building itself is made from rice straw bales encased in a natural earthen plaster made from soil from the surrounding vineyards.  It was the largest straw structure in the US at the time it was built.  The straw is highly insulating and reuses rice straw that rice farmers used to burn until the practice was banned due to air quality concerns.  The tasting room was built with recycled lumber and features a smart heating and cooling system that monitors indoor and outdoor temperatures and opens and shuts louvers around the floors and ceiling to warm or cool the interior.  Additionally, they installed solar panels that currently supply 75% of the winery’s electricity needs.

Quivira Vineyard in Healdsburg has, since 2005, gotten 100% of it’s energy from a solar installation. Concerned too about the amount of water used in the wine making process, Quivira has “dramatically reduced [water usage] thanks to a …

13M Smart Meters To Be Shipped in US in 2010

Greg Neichin

Predicting the present using the vision of tomorrow in the SmartGrid marketplace.
When you are predicting the future, you can only be wrong in retrospect, but if you predict the present, you can be wrong today – it seems a bigger risk and a more intriguing challenge. Let’s apply some facts to estimate the current state of the Smart Grid Market, read on for my take.

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.