Solar Market Smashing Records

In its biggest year to date, the United States solar market nearly doubled its annual record, topping out at 14,626 megawatts of solar PV installed in 2016.

This represents a 95 percent increase over the previous record of 7,493 megawatts installed in 2015. GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) previewed this data in advance of their upcoming U.S. Solar Market Insight report, set to be released on March 9.

The ‘New Normal’ in America: Renewables Boom

After decades of technology development, business model innovation and policy progress, the U.S. economy is now decisively growing -- independent of energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Since 2007, U.S. GDP has grown by 12 percent, while energy consumption has fallen by 3.6 percent, according to the new 2017 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE).

This year’s fifth edition report builds on last year’s Factbook findings that show the U.S. economy grew by 10 percent since 2007, while energy consumption fell by 2.4 percent. “In other words, energy productivity continues to improve as less and less energy is needed to fuel growth,” the authors wrote.

Microgrids on the March: Utilities Building New Business Models

Pulling a cohesive narrative out of the DistribuTech conference’s thousands of participants and menagerie of electrical doohickeys is like synopsizing James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Amid the cacophony, however, a few trends emerged. The sophistication of software used to manage an increasingly decentralized grid continues to grow, as Jeff St. John observed. Meanwhile, utility representatives expressed caution about the dislocations stemming from that decentralization.

"Our main charge is to make sure our customers have reliable power," said James Boston, manager of market intelligence at San Antonio utility CPS Energy, which recently deployed a demonstration microgrid. "Utilities are generally cautious to make sure these things are tested, are proven, before we put customers’ reliability in any type of jeopardy."

Transforming the Energy Economy : Global Startup-Utility Accelerator

On a recent Monday evening, Danny Kennedy, the director of the California Clean Energy Fund, stood in front of a crowd of dozens of energy industry insiders in Dubai.

“Steve Jobs used to say you should cannibalize yourself every couple of years or someone will come eat your lunch,” he said. “Seems like the utilities in the room have started to invite the cannibals to the crowd.”

The utilities he referred to are major utility companies from all around the world that, despite deep-pockets and massive customer bases, have been slow to adopt to an energy economy that is quickly evolving toward renewable resources like wind and solar power. Moreover, those same utilities are finding themselves eclipsed by startups that are quick to experiment with new technologies that can more efficiently harness the power of renewables and while engaging with those customer bases.

Building a Cohort : Energy Excelerator

You can read about why we selected each individual company below, but looking at the cohort as a whole is equally important.

The Energy Excelerator approach is to think in systems. This means we look for ways to connect the right people, companies and solutions to accelerate our path to 100% clean energy, not just in Hawaii, but across the world.

What does our selection process look like? Well, it includes a whole lot of listening. We listen to the needs of our Global and Local Partners — the organizations that will be deploying technologies alongside us and our companies. We listen to the market — gauging the impact policy and regulation can have on innovation, and we listen to our companies — some of the most innovative minds in energy, water, transportation, agriculture, and cybersecurity. In fact, 2 of the 12 companies in our 2017 cohort came from direct referrals from companies in our portfolio.

Energy Is The New Internet

If you’re not paying attention to what’s going on in energy, you should. We’ve seen this movie before. Spoiler alert: There’s massive economic opportunity ahead. How massive? Imagine standing in 1992, knowing that Google, Akamai, Netflix, Facebook, Amazon, eBay, BuzzFeed and Uber lay ahead.

This time it’s the “enernet,” not the internet, that will transform our lives. The story is the same, though the players have changed.

Here’s the tee up. Across the country, incumbent network providers operate highly centralized networks in their respective cities. Then, scrappy local outfits start serving the market with innovative, distributed technology. These startups create competition, and a new network emerges atop the legacy network.

Renewables Now Cheapest, But How To Enable Faster Renewable Energy Growth?

Renewable energy is now the cheapest option, on average, for new electricity capacity around the world — in developed countries like the US as well as developing countries like India, China, Nigeria, and Mexico. As I noted the other day, we need tokeep channeling this message to the broader public, and especially decision-makers, but there are other things to do as well in order to increase the rate of renewable energy growth.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has projected that we need to double renewables globally by 2030 (combined with solid progress on energy efficiency) if we are going to keep global warming below 2°C. Clearly, direct governmental investment into renewable energy programs is one great way to do that. As one such example of strong policy action, China just announced that it plans to invest $360 billion into renewables by 2034 and has stopped construction or planning on over 100 coal plants. That’s vision and leadership.

Midwest startups compete for clean-tech investment funding

Midwest startups compete for clean-tech investment funding

A Chicago-based clean tech accelerator is giving eight student-led startups the chance to win tens of thousands of dollars in early-stage funding and to compete in a national competition later this year.

The Cleantech University Prize (Cleantech UP) is an annual competition hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy and Spark Clean Energy, a nonprofit that promotes university-level energy innovation. Clean Energy Trust, the Midwest host and coordinator for Cleantech UP, announced the regional finalists in a blog post this week.

Blockchain meets Energy: Building the Community

Blockchain meets Energy: Building the Community

Leveraging blockchain technology in exchanges of electrons and data makes sense. It’s great at securely processing transactions and registering ownership, meaning lower costs and increased transparency. It also allows users to enter smart contracts, potentially enabling prosumers to automate their electricity sales and purchases. Similar benefits apply in IoT, where an increasing number of devices need to communicate with each other, and using decentralized networks could prove more secure, reliable and affordable.

The Benefits of a Clean Energy Economy

The Benefits of a Clean Energy Economy

We all know the science. The United States and the world as a whole must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent or more by 2050 in order to significantly reduce the risks posed by unabated climate change. Intensifying droughts and heat waves, inundation of coastal economies brought on by sea level rise, and increasing wildfires and extreme weather events across the United States are only some of those intensifying risks.

What Does it Take to Transform a Place?

Over the past 3 years, as we built a portfolio of 50+ companies solving the world's biggest problems, two things stick out amongst our many lessons learned:

1. Although our energy, water, agriculture, and transportation problems are global; it's solutions must be rooted in local communities. 
2. Without people to move the needle, the most innovative technologies sit on the shelf. 

If you believe that local change = global impact, share this video with your community––those working with you to create local change to solve global problems.


The Energy Excelerator Team

BDC boosts clean-technology venture fund

The Business Development Bank of Canada is committing an additional $135-million to its venture fund that supports Canadian clean-technology startups which offer products and services to improve energy efficiency in businesses.
“Our goal is to intensify our support for innovative Canadian entrepreneurs who are leading the way in the transition to a low-carbon economy,” Jerome Nycz, BDC Capital’s executive vice-president, said in a statement to be released Wednesday.

Cleantech Startups See The 'Smart City' As New Avenue For Investment

After years as a venture-capital pariah, clean-technology startups are rebranding themselves to capitalize on the quest to build a smart city.

Cleantech companies, whose missions are broadly linked to environmental improvement, are benefiting as municipalities around the world embrace smart cities — where internet-connected devices collect data that can be used to address challenges from energy efficiency to traffic, crime and public health.

The smart city market, expected to balloon to $1.57 trillion by 2020, according to a 2014 report from research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, is a way for cleantech startups to revive venture interest after the sector's reputation suffered from failed experiments in areas like solar panels and biofuels in the 2000s.

Hard-up startups come up with unique energy efficient products

Cleantech startups need investor support, says Karthik Chandrasekar, CEO of Sangam Ventures, who mentored some startups. “A lot of them are working on signific ant pain points faced by Indian consumers and industries. 

These have a great long-term, secular growth story where the opportunity does not go away like in ecommerce, as soon as the top player emerges or gets acquired.” He says these ventures can provide great returns and exits to investors and become high-growth SMEs. 

How startups and innovators will help power the energy revolution

In 2015, more than one million UK households left the Big Six energy suppliers, in favour of smaller companies. It’s no coincidence that this dramatic departure aligned with the digital transformation underway in the energy sector. A transformation that is long overdue, but now empowers consumers to take control of their energy use and is ripe with startups and challenger entrants disrupting the status quo.

Startups Set to Revolutionize Clean Energy with Off-Grid, Community Solar Models

Two startups are advancing their solar power solutions in big ways: Arcadia Power, an online renewable energy company, has launched the first nationwide community solar program in the United States; and solar lighting and power systems provider d.light has secured a total of $30 million in funding this year for off-grid solar.

Can Solar Micro-Grids Transform the African Grid?

Nearly 100 million people are now on the first steps of the energy ladder thanks to the rapid deployment of solar home systems in poor communities across the world. That’s incredible progress that marks the beginning, not the end, of clean energy access. With increasing attention being paid to the missing middle (the area where those moving up the energy ladder meet those being forced down by dysfunctional grids reliant on distributed diesel generators) excitement about the opportunity to end energy poverty is palpable. Now an emerging set of micro grid developers are bent on proving they can make good on that promise and potentially transform the architecture of the grid while they’re at it.

How “SUNNY” Startups Compete with Traditional Energy

California is one of the world’s leaders in implementing solar stations and using renewable energy sources, and a local company (New Energy Nexus) has a lot of positive ongoing developments in this area. As the sun is one of the major sources of alternative energy in the state, solar parks and rooftop panels are actively used. In addition to solar power, the company also uses wind power and other clean energy sources.

Community-scale solar: A $30 billion opportunity

Community-scale solar: A $30 billion opportunity

When people think of solar power, the first image that tends to come to mind is either a massive solar farm located in a remote desert location, or solar panels installed on top of the roofs of homes and businesses.

While both of these approaches provide customers with clean, renewable energy, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is driving the development of a third technological approach – an approach that supplies the benefits of both utility-scale and individual rooftop solar arrays, while also expanding access to clean energy for underserved communities and low and moderate income households.

Clean Energy Ministerial Releases CEM7 Roundtables Summary Report

Clean Energy Ministerial Releases CEM7 Roundtables Summary Report

The Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) has released a new report summarizing key outcomes from the four public–private roundtables held as part of the seventh Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM7) in San Francisco, California, United States, in June 2016.Public–Private Roundtables at the Seventh Clean Energy Ministerial [PDF]  captures the key messages and recommendations of the government, private-sector, and other global leaders who participated in the discussions.