Friday, August 14th, 2009
The Obama Administration in March announced $5 billion in funding to weatherize low income homes, but today little of that money has been spent. The logjam of Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) money that should be going to upgrade windows and insulation has been blamed on the Departments of Energy and Labor because of confusing rules over wage rules.
According to the DOE half of the money has been sent to the states. But many states have not distributed funds to the cities and local community organizations for fear of running afoul of the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act. The rule was instituted to ensure fair wages on public works projects.
Federal weatherization programs have existed for 30 years, but this is the first time that Davis-Bacon rules were applied. Lacking a precedent of what are fair rates for weatherization laborers, many states have been waiting for the Department of Labor to set guidelines. The DOL is to issue rules for 15 states today, with the remaining state guidelines to be out by the end of August.
Tuesday, August 11th, 2009
As someone that is passionately involved in getting clean tech businesses off the ground I can’t help thinking that some of the businesses in this space are missing a trick or five?
For the last few months I have been working with a renewable energy business that is crammed full of engineering and proven IP excellence, they have a strong business model, off-take agreements and contracts in place – an investors dream. But it is lacking one key ingredient – and that is business soul. The emphasis on the business is – due to the background of its people – driven on a project management and large corporate structures, they are keen to debate sign-on fees, investor restrictions, pension funds, multi-layered structures and confining operating procedures based on what they know.
Friday, August 7th, 2009
Some automotive entrepreneurs are feeling like when it comes to getting DOE funding, it’s who, not what you know.
The $2.4 billion in federal funding for advanced battery and vehicle electrification announced this week boosted battery manufacturers that had prior relationships with the DOE, while some lesser-known innovators were left with hat in hand.
Matt Mattila, a consultant in the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Mobility and Vehicle Efficiency Practice says the money “went to the old guard” and left out new EV companies such as Aptera where “$100 million could make or break them.”
Thursday, August 6th, 2009
The Obama administration is hoping that $1.5 billion will finally be enough to make the U.S. a player in the global manufacturing of advanced batteries, which until now has been dominated by Asia.
Since most of the hybrids sold to date have been from Japanese manufacturers (with Toyota and Honda leading the way), it’s no surprise that the batteries that power their electric drive trains are also mostly from Japan. However, Ford has been purchasing batteries for its Escape Hybrid from Sanyo, and GM is buying batteries from Korean company LG Chem for the upcoming Chevrolet Volt. GM had been buying batteries for its hybrids from troubled U.S.-based Cobasys, which was just acquired by Japan’s Samsung.
Tuesday, August 4th, 2009
When Congress returns from its summer vacation it will consider legislation that could energize investment in renewable energy projects with an almost “cash for clunkers”-like fervor.
Like the cash for clunkers legislation (and American Idol, and The Office), a feed-in tariff bill would be a ripoff of a European idea modified for American consumption. Bills that would require utilities to pay a premium for renewable power have been tried and failed here before, but the time (and composition of the Congress) may be right for the fight to take flight.
Introduced by Democratic Senators Jay Inslee (WA) and Bill Dellahunt (MA), the bill would guarantee a market for the renewable power projects and would do much to calms fears in today’s skittish investment arena. Feed-in tariffs have been overwhelmingly successful in Germany and Spain, basically creating the solar industries in both those countries.
Because a feed-in tariff promises American jobs and reduces foreign energy dependency, Congress will likely give the idea more of a fair hearing when the leaves begin to turn in DC.
Wednesday, July 29th, 2009
While San Francisco and Portland are each publicly claiming they’ll have the best electric vehicle networks in place in their cities, San Jose may be have made the most progress.
The city of San Jose has installed 7 charging stations so far, including spots at City Hall and a public parking garage. At the charging locations vehicle owners don’t pay for the power; instead they are charged based on the time in the parking spot. To simplify payment, EV owners get a keychain fob that’s connected to their credit card.
Nanci Klein, the manager of corporate outreach for the city, says vehicle chargers are being added to light poles in “key neighborhoods.” The city will take advantage of its control of the right of way on light poles (which will be upgraded as they are repaired) and in parking garage to create a network that will incentivize residents to purchase plug-in and battery-electric vehicles. San Jose’s redevelopment agency, as well as the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration, have contributed funding to the project.
Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
Israel Cleantech Ventures (ICV) and Capricorn Venture Partners (CVP) announced today that they have invested $6MM in FRX Polymers, Inc. (FRX), the manufacturer of a new, environmentally friendly family of inherently flame retardant plastics. FRX’s products are finding markets as polymeric flame retardant additives and as “stand-alone” inherently flame retardant engineering plastics.
FRX Polymers is currently in the commercialization stage for its family of polyphosphonate homopolymers and copolymers. According to the company, these plastics are tough, transparent, possess high melt flow, and are inherently flame retardant. FRX polymers are environmentally friendly since they do not contain halogens, whereas many other flame retardant additives do contain halogen.
Friday, July 24th, 2009
BrightView Systems, a Petah Tikva, Israel-based start-up developing production process optimization tools for the solar industry, and the Thin-Film Photovoltaics Laboratory at IMT, a world leading lab in silicon-based thin-film solar cells research, part of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), are joining forces to introduce novel solutions for the optimization of next generation thin-film solar cells production.
According to a joint press release, BrightView’s advanced solutions will be utilized to provide real-time feedback to encompass a complete framework for process optimization that is scalable from pilot line to mass production of large area panels.
In January 2009 BrightView finalized a $6 million Series A financing by Israel Cleantech Ventures and Hasso Plattner Ventures. (more…)
Thursday, July 16th, 2009
IQwind, an Israel-based start-up developing variable gear technology that improves the energy generation efficiency of wind turbines, has raised $500,000 from ISRAEL G-TEK LLC, according to an announcement by the U.S.-based investors.
IQwind received a first round of investment from Terra Venture Partners in 2007.
Sami Shiro and Uri Benhamron, principals at ISRAEL G-TEK, explain that the investment in IQWind is part of their “plan to create a balanced portfolio of greentech companies with a special focus on Israel as a breeding ground for technology.”
Monday, July 13th, 2009
In a move that will surely provide an additional boost for the alternative energy industry, and perhaps T. Boone Pickens‘ plan, the US Department of Treasury has finally released guidelines for claiming the grants instead of the federal tax credit. Applications will be submitted online. However, the Treasury will not be accepting applications at this time.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed in February allowed for business taxpayers to apply for direct payments instead of claiming a tax credit on their income tax return. This applied to the credit under Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) Section 45 (Energy Produced for Certain Renewable Resources) and IRC Section 48 (Energy Credit). Property that applies to this includes geothermal, biomass, micro wind turbines, and solar amongst others.