Global Investment in Renewables Up Slightly in 2019 vs. 2018

Global Investment in Renewables Up Slightly in 2019 vs. 2018

“Investment in renewable energy capacity worldwide was $282.2 billion last year, up 1% from 2018’s $280.2 billion, with the world’s biggest market (China) slipping back, but its second-largest (the U.S.) hitting a new record,” according to a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. A late surge in closings for big new wind projects was responsible for most of the gain:  “Looking at the overall renewable energy capacity investment figures for 2019, wind (onshore and offshore) led the way with $138.2 billion globally, up 6%. Solar was close behind, at $131.1 billion, down 3%.”

Investment in renewables projects in the US grew 20% to $55.5 billion.  A rush by wind and solar developers to qualify for federal tax credits that were due for scale-back in 2020 could explain the gain.

To read the full press release, including a link to get the full report, go here.


Congratulations Waterhound Futures and VerifiH20!

Congratulations Waterhound Futures and VerifiH20!

Congratulations to Waterhound Futures and Verifi H2O, who both took the top prizes at The Water Council’s Tech Challenge.  Both completed CleanStart’s CEO Crash Course last fall.

Both got recognized for being leaders innovating water technology claiming the top prize money.  The recognition is well deserved.   


Full Press Release:


MILWAUKEE, Wis. (January 27, 2020) – The Water Council, with its supporting corporate sponsors, has announced the winners for the second round of the Tech Challenge. This round focused on Innovative solutions for inline sensors that detect water quality parameters and artificial intelligence for pipe networks and systems. 

The Tech Challenge program augments corporate open innovation channels and identifies emerging freshwater technologies and ideas with a high potential for commercialization. Throughout the year, several topics of interest are identified by corporate sponsors, which are then posted as open Tech Challenges and promoted globally. Selected finalists have an opportunity to meet in-person with sponsors for a chance to win prize money, gain access to corporate R&D resources and potentially partner with a corporate sponsor on the development of the technology or idea. 

“This round attracted 22 applications from nine countries, of which 80 percent weren’t already on the radar for our sponsor companies,” said Karen Frost, vice president of economic development at The Water Council. “That is exactly what the Tech Challenge is designed to do for our sponsors – build pipeline.” The innovations chosen as Tech Challenge winners are: 

Verifi H2O – An innovative water-monitoring platform delivering real-time water quality surveillance systems based on proprietary, advanced material technologies that rapidly detect pathogens and other contaminants, while providing customers with reliable information to make time-sensitive decisions. 

Waterhound Futures – A predictive modelling and analytics solution, which simulates water and wastewater treatment plants to provide actionable insight to operators, engineers and management. 

Commenting on the value of the program, “Badger Meter owes its success to a long history of water technology innovation,” noted Dan Fellers, manager, research & development at Badger Meter. “We are confident the quality and diversity of ideas that flow from the Tech Challenge will help fuel the solutions of tomorrow.” 

The Tech Challenge is designed to build additional pathways for corporate R&D teams beyond conventional channels. Rebecca Tallon, engineering director – water treatment at A. O. Smith Corporation, adds, “Our participation in the program widens our access to innovators who have ideas but haven’t explored marketing their solutions through traditional channels yet, so it’s been a valuable way to extend our R&D efforts for innovations that would have taken much longer to find on our own.” 

In addition to augmenting R&D pathways, the Tech Challenge program also drives deal flow opportunities in targeted topics of interest. “AI is an emerging topic, so we’re interested in innovations in that specific area as part of our connected products strategy,” said Glen Trickle, director of engineering at Zurn. “This Challenge, we were pleasantly surprised by the volume of qualified AI applications, along with other solutions that we’re continuing to explore.” 

Tech Challenge applications were accepted from Sept. 6 – Nov. 3, 2019. The next round of Tech Challenge topics will be announced March 2020. 

About A. O. Smith
A. O. Smith Corporation, with headquarters in Milwaukee, Wis., is a global leader applying innovative technology and energy-efficient solutions to products manufactured and marketed worldwide. The company is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of residential and commercial water heating equipment and boilers, as well as a leading manufacturer of water treatment products.

About Badger Meter
Badger Meter is a leading innovator, manufacturer and marketer of flow measurement and control products, serving water and gas utilities, municipalities and industrial customers worldwide. Measuring a variety of liquids — from water to oil and lubricants in commercial processes — products from Badger Meter are known for accuracy, durability and the ability to provide valuable and timely measurement information. For more information, visit

About Zurn Industries
Zurn Industries, LLC, a Rexnord company, is a recognized leader in commercial, municipal, healthcare and industrial markets. Zurn offers the largest breadth of engineered water solutions, including a wide spectrum of sustainable plumbing products. Zurn delivers total building solutions for new construction and retrofit applications that enhance any building’s environment. For more information, visit or

About The Water Council
Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA next to the world’s largest freshwater system and home to one of the most influential freshwater technology hubs in the world, The Water Council (TWC) is recognized as a global center for advancing water technologies and stewardship. At its heart, TWC is a non-profit, membership organization that connects, convenes and showcases the hub comprised of more than 238 water technology businesses and the diverse water leadership network of 200 members it is linked to from around the world. While TWC’s mission is centered on driving economic development, attracting and connecting world-class talent and supporting water-focused technology innovation, its larger goal is to help secure freshwater resources for the world by driving solutions to the numerous industries that need and use a large amount of water. Learn more by visiting

California Investing over $100 Million in Hydrogen

California Investing over $100 Million in Hydrogen

There are many technologies on the horizon that are helping with sustainability. One that California is funding and has recognized as part of the mix is hydrogen. The cost of hydrogen is expected to fall in the next decade as new clean production technologies mature and industries reach economies of scale.

Three reasons we need to consider hydrogen could have an impact on our daily life are storage, customer behavior, and long haul freight.

  1. Storage, with current technology we do not have enough battery storage.  There are not enough batteries on earth for just California to go 100% renewable.  So investing in additional storage options is prudent, with the looming threat of climate change. Hydrogen stores excess wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal energy to be used later when demand is high. Hydrogen has already been deployed as storage in Utah, Scotland, Norway, South Korea, and other places.  to balance the grid and using hydrogen as storage could be supported by this California Grant.
  2. Customer Behavior. Having promoted Electric Vehicles (EV) for years, I still see people stuck in the “Fill up” mindset. Fast EV charging that matches the speed of refueling costs more than just the stations, they also require major grid investment in power generation, distribution, and storage. Hydrogen stations currently cost less to build on a per-car basis than DC fast charging, and one hydrogen station can fill hundreds of cars daily. The fuel station model might be the answer to providing Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) fueling in areas that can’t accommodate overnight charging and be better suited to people who drive 100 or more miles a day
  3. Freight. Trucks, buses, ships, and trains create more pollution and GHG emissions than single-passenger cars and, thanks to Amazon Prime, are a growing sector of vehicles on the road. Short-haul, return-to-base trucks may be well-served by batteries, and freight vehicles that use hydrogen will simply increase the number of clean trucks on the road. 

The numbers of ZEVs on the roads is not enough. Just as we need solar, wind, and hydropower to meet our renewable energy goals, we need investment batteries and fuel cells to meet our goals for vehicle electrification. We need to bring as many options to bear fighting climate change.

California is Investing in both storage and hydrogen refueling stations in California.  The California Fuel Cell Partnership is a great resource to stay up to date on funding opportunities. Including the over $100 Million is available for Hydrogen projects and the road map to hydrogen technologies being delivered across the US.

If you want to learn more and get involved with hydrogen make sure you come to our Meetup at Frontier Energy on January 30th.  Frontier has been operating the California Fuel Cell Partnership for 30 years as well as projects with battery EVs, autonomous vehicles, and new mobility. There you can connect with people leading the Zero Emission charge with Hydrogen.


Thomas is the Executive Director of CleanStart. Thomas has a strong background in supporting small businesses, leadership, financial management and is proficient in working with nonprofits. He has a BS in Finance and a BA in Economics from California State University, Chico. Thomas has a passion for sustainability and a commitment to supporting non-profits in the region.

CleanStart Sponsors

Weintraub | Tobin, Moss Adams, River City Bank, GreenbergTraurig

BlueTech Valley,, Revrnt, Synbyo, Califronia Mobility Center

Local Startup Empow Lighting among 6 to get Phase 2 CalSEED awards

Local Startup Empow Lighting among 6 to get Phase 2 CalSEED awards

Congratulations to Sergey Vasilyev and his team for a big win for Empow and its CoreGlo LED replacement product for existing fluorescent luminaires.  Empow is the first company in our region to advance to Phase 2.

Nice win! If you want more details on this product, Sergey was one of the presenters at our December 4 Connex Investor Night and we have a video of it on our Youtube Channel.  Maxout Renewables from Livermore was another winner, and we have a video of them at the same event. Other winners were Stasis Group, In-Pipe Energy, GenH and SkyCool Systems.  We hope to have some of these at our future Connex events. Watch for the announcements.

The CalSEED Press Release on the awards can be viewed here.

Creating a Startup?  Why You Should Attend the CleanStart Customer Discovery Workshop

Creating a Startup? Why You Should Attend the CleanStart Customer Discovery Workshop

What is the most important factor in successfully pitching for investment?  Having some proof you have customers interested in your product. Most startups skip over this step and go to investors unprepared.  Why is this a bad idea? Here are some radical thoughts that will be discussed in our workshop:

  1. Most investor firms want startups to focus quickly on a product launch date and scale up.  This is deadly advice. Ignore it. It leads to early bankruptcy if the startup has not discovered who their customers are and what they want.


  2. There’s only one reason for a business plan:  Some investor who went to business school doesn’t know any better and wants to see one.  Startups get focused on doing a business plan too soon. Once the business plan is delivered it is fundamentally useless at best and dangerous at worst.


  3. A startup is not a small version of a big company.  What works for product development at a big company will not work in a small company.


  4. Unlike existing companies, startups go from failure to failure.  That’s not bad if (1) one learns from failure, and (2) the failures are not expensive.  The only way for a startup to find a good path is try lots of experiments and take a lot of wrong turns.  Failure is a part of the process. The key is not to waste a lot of time and cash on the experiments. They have to be done on the cheap and done fast.


  5. A startup is a faith-based enterprise built on its founder’s vision and a notable absence of facts.  The founder’s job is to translate this vision and assumptions into facts. Founders can’t do this by huddling at their desks.  They have to get out of the building and go see customers.


  6. Market research firms are great at predicting the past and coloring their conclusions to fit what they think clients want to hear.  They are no substitute for a founder’s getting out and testing ideas with actual customers in person.

Customer Discovery and Product-Market Fit Workshop


Hacker Lab


9:30 AM January 28th


6:00 PM February 4th

Intrigued?  Then sign up for the workshop either January 28 from 6-8:30 pm or February 4 from 9:30 to noon at Hacker Lab (2533 R Street).  A $20 donation is requested, but don’t let that be a barrier. If you are serious about creating a startup, you need to come regardless.  

Thomas Hall


Gary Simon is the Chair of CleanStarts Board. A seasoned energy executive and entrepreneur with 45 years of experience in business, government, and non-profits.

CleanStart Sponsors

Weintraub | Tobin, EY, Stoel Rives, Greenberg Traurig LLP

BlueTech Valley, Buchalter, Moss Adams,

College of Engineering & Computer Science at Sacramento State