Community Energy Projects: Creating an Opening for Regional CleanTech

Community Energy Projects: Creating an Opening for Regional CleanTech

We see an opportunity to market new clean energy technologies in the region through a community energy project. This could provide a great platform for regional innovators to demonstrate their products close to home and gain the information critical to expand markets for them.  It could involve technologies in energy, efficiency, sustainability, and more together to improve the quality of life and aid in the energy transition here locally. Community energy projects have become very popular with funding agencies.  They are, however, complicated to create and manage. The question is whether we could do one here.

Such a project would engage a team of professionals, students, community leaders, volunteers, and innovators to target a particular community in the Sacramento area and create a plan for execution to deliver energy upgrades and greenhouse gas emissions reductions.  This would not be a short-term project. In fact, it may take a year or two to happen and even longer to fully complete. But it will create a focus for activity, a tangible set of actual installations and controls, and a tangible improvement in the lives of the residents in the community where it happens.  It will also become a template for replicating the same process in other communities, both in the Sacramento area and beyond.

What will it be? We aren’t sure, but we want to hear what you think and where you see opportunities. We want to be a catalyst to see what we could get started. In 2022 CleanStart will be shaking off these past two years by going into the community to connect the energy transition to local quality of life. We have built the CleanTech Connect (aka CTC) trailer to go into the community and bring people together.

If you want to connect with the energy transition, community energy, and making our region a better place, give us your thoughts on how we can collaborate on this opportunity.

Want to get involved? Reach out!

3 + 9 =

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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 GreenbergTraurig

BlueTech Valley, PowerSoft.biz, Revrnt, Synbyo, Califronia Mobility Center

Helios Altas Getting Ready to Move to Scale in Small Hydropower

Helios Altas Getting Ready to Move to Scale in Small Hydropower

Helios Altas is getting ready to go big. We have reported on them in the past and they continue to hit new milestones.  They are now getting ready to scale, looking at manufacturing around the country. We hope they stay here. They certainly have opportunities to install their equipment in the state.

Clean energy advocates are of two minds on whether hydro should be counted as “green”.  Large hydroelectric dams supplied by huge reservoirs have been controversial as creating too much collateral environmental damage–destroying fish and wildlife habitat, interfering with fish migrations, trapping nutrient-rich silt, among other things.  As a result, there has been a compromise to favor only “small” hydro as part of the qualified renewable resources used to meet the 100% renewable goal or to qualify for funding from multilateral sources like the World Bank. Further, the expressed preference is for sites either where dams already exist but have never installed power generation turbines, or which do not require big water impoundments (“run of the river” installations).   However, the smaller the installation, the more costly it is in terms of cost per kilowatt. His solution overcomes many of those concerns and has been deployed in a variety of environments around the world while in demonstration mode.  

Helios Altas, founded by Mike Carrol and headquartered in Roseville, has taken a very clever, low-cost approach to come up with a simple device for taking advantage of even the smallest water flows. HIs device has a very elegant simple water wheel that requires only a channel to direct flows underneath it.  The company’s flagship products, PowerBall and PowerWheel produce clean electricity from moving water in canals, industrial water loops, rivers, tidal flows and the base of dams. They have been prototyping, deploying and confirming it is efficient enough to work in many circumstances. With this success, they are looking to move towards manufacturing and scaling to deploy the devices in California, where they already are used to power remote monitoring equipment, and in the rest of the world where they could power village microgrids.  They see applications to bring power to 900 million people in remote areas that currently do not have power. They have a great video explaining their device and its applications at the bottom of their home page.

Mike has had success in getting small irrigation districts and public power districts in the state interested and is working toward some substantial PPA agreements in the Philippines and Malaysia.  He has 1 kW and 2.5 kW units operating in demos and intends to produce units up to 10 kW in size. He believes he will soon see orders for 300 units. That would open up about two dozen new jobs to assemble and install the units.  

Helios Altas is one of the many companies in our region that have been working steadily and patiently for years to commercialize their innovations.  Now they seem ready to make a break-out move that will solidify their success for the future.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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 GreenbergTraurig

BlueTech Valley, PowerSoft.biz, Revrnt, Synbyo, Califronia Mobility Center

ReCap of 2019

ReCap of 2019

With 2019 over I wanted to highlight some of what CleanStart did to further Sacramento as a clean tech hub. This past year was exciting for the clean tech community in the greater Sacramento area.  At CleanStart we were excited because we have been able to provide much need support to the community, helping grow our region with networking and education for clean tech entrepreneurs. We did our best to capture this excitement so you can share it.  

There is really too much to cover, but I compiled this shortlist about why 2019 was exciting:

We worked to connect with more of the community in the greater area by partnering with more groups, participating in more events, holding more classes, more networking events, connecting more people. We did all this while moving to our new home at Hacker Lab.

The year ended with big excitement for 2020 with CleanStart Partnering with New Energy Nexus to bring the CONNEX Investor Night to Sacramento.  Check out what the excitement is about:

In 2019 we counted 85 companies in the cluster representing 5,050 jobs and $3.1 billion in revenue. This is a big gain over 2015, which showed 4,150 jobs and $1.54 billion in revenue. We moved forward as a region towards CleanStart’s goal of $5 Billion in revenue and 10,000 careers. From the SMUD Mobility Center to GreyRock Energy, to Sierra Energy we saw investment in clean tech. Startups started to make moves around storage with RePurpose and Spin.  Several local companies won CalSEED funding, including ZYD Energy, RAF Electronics, and  RePurpose. 

With all of this, we are excited for 2020 and want to make sure you connect with us.  If you want to learn more, contact us, sign up for our newsletter, and follow us on social media.

Follow us on Social Media to keep upto date!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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 GreenbergTraurig

BlueTech Valley, PowerSoft.biz, Revrnt, Synbyo, Califronia Mobility Center

Necessity Gives Rise to a New Company

Necessity Gives Rise to a New Company

In 2006, a solar developer had a problem.  It wanted to win the bid to cover the roof of the Staples Center in Los Angeles with PV panels.  But like many arenas, the roof wouldn’t bear much weight and more importantly, the owner wanted to be sure the installation wouldn’t cause any leaks.  Looking at all the conventional ways to secure PV panels to the roofs of commercial buildings, the developer could not find anything suitable. Conventional systems are designed for only flat roofs and the Staples Center roof was gently curved.  More importantly, typical systems used ballasting to hold down the racks of panels to avoid making holes in the roof. But then the racks can move or the ballast (usually concrete blocks) can deteriorate. With no other option, the developer turned to its own engineers to design a new lightweight installation system appropriate for the curved roof.  And it worked. They won the bid. They installed the panels. And after a decade, still no leaks.  

In fact, the system worked so well, they decided to make a business around it.  That was the origin of Sustainable Technologies in North Natomas and its flagship product, the patented Facet Roof Mount.  It looks like a small flying saucer with a threaded center section for a bolt to hold the PV racks. It’s so simple that PV installation times are slashed and costs reduced as well.  It is used in conjunction with various flashing and sealing methods to ensure that it is water-tight. 

  

It works so well, sales are zooming, with over 85,000 likely to be sold this year, up from 30,000 last year.  The units themselves are outsourced to China, with sales done directly or through US distributors. No significant sales have been made outside the US, but a move into European markets is on the horizon.  In our judgment, the big milestone for this company is probably getting unit sales over the 10 million mark. The 120,000+ mounts sold to date support about 10 MW of solar installations. When 1000 MW worth of mounts have been sold, the technology will be on lots of developers’ radar screens and sales should zoom.

According to Erica Lindstrom, Sales and Operations Manager, the key to getting sales is receiving approvals from the roofing manufacturers and most importantly from building standards agencies.  They have certifications from most manufacturers that the use of their system does not void warranties, and are working on getting it for the most popular roofing material—EPDM or polymerized Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer, commonly called a “rubber roof”.  Building department approvals are a longer game. Every locality and state has its own rules. Erica says they just got approval from the LA city building department to unlock one of the biggest markets in the country. Awesome!

Thomas Hall

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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, PowerSoft.biz

College of Engineering & Computer Science at Sacramento State


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