FloraPluse Chosen As Sustainability Innovation Of the Year

FloraPluse Chosen As Sustainability Innovation Of the Year

Davis-based water use efficiency company FloraPulse received the award as the best innovation in the sustainability category, one of six categories at this year’s ceremony on November 1. FloraPulse has developed a compact technology to measure water stress in orchard crops and vineyards continuously to determine the optimal amount of irrigation required, reducing waste as a result. The alternative technology is slow, clumsy and hard to use, so FloraPulse has the potential to make a serious improvement in how growers apply water to their crops. CEO Dr. Michael Santiago (shown in the picture) brought this technology from his graduate lab at Cornell and founded the company here in 2014. It now has 8 employees and made its first sales in 2018. It has been a long journey, but with many awards along the way. FloraPulse is now gaining traction as farmers deal with the reality of chronic water shortages. Congratulations to the team for its achievements.

Thomas Hall

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

CleanStart Sponsors

Weintraub | TobinBlueTech Valley, Revrnt, River City Bank

Moss AdamsPowerSoft.biz, Greenberg Traurig, California Mobility Center

Battery Game-Changer LiCAP Chosen as Regional Innovation of the Year

Battery Game-Changer LiCAP Chosen as Regional Innovation of the Year

The overall Innovation of the year award accepted by Katharina Gerber, VP Business Development for LiCAP

The manufacturer of a revolutionary new dry electrode technology, LiCAP Technologies was presented with the overall Innovation of the Year Award at the Tuesday ceremony capping the months-long Innovation Awards program this year.  This is the first time a clean tech company has gotten this premier, best-of-the-best award.  We had written a blog on clean tech company LiCAP explaining the significance of their game-changing technology for batteries and ultracaps.   LiCAP could be the next billion-dollar clean tech company in our region.  This latest award gives them the recognition they deserve.  Keep an eye on this one.

Thomas Hall

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

CleanStart Sponsors

Weintraub | TobinBlueTech Valley, Revrnt, River City Bank

Moss AdamsPowerSoft.biz, Greenberg Traurig, California Mobility Center

WindHarvest International Wins Sustainability Award

WindHarvest International Wins Sustainability Award

On November 18, the Sacramento Business Journal and Stoel Rives handed WindHarvest the Award for Sustainability Innovation of the Year.  They were one of 8 Regional Innovation winners announced in various categories at the ceremony, one of the few in-person such meetings held since the pandemic started.  It was nice to see so many colleagues again.

We have written about WindHarvest before as they have been advancing their vertical axis wind technology.  Their idea is to double the output from existing wind farms with the big towers and big blades using the same real estate and same infrastructure.  These vertical axis turbines sit at ground level so are easier to service, can fit between the towers and make use of the wind not captured by the big stuff.  Many others have attempted the same thing, only to get marginal results—and in some cases to see their equipment fail.  

Kevin Wolf and his team took the approach of extensive computer modeling to come up with a design that would avoid the extreme stresses that doomed the earlier efforts.  He also innovated a creative crowdfunding approach to underwrite the building of a first demo plant in Texas, providing his initial $1.5 million.  In accepting the award, 

Kevin told a brief story of all the bumps in the road they encountered getting this prototype finished.  Equipment was delivered late and damaged, Covid interfered with construction progress, and it just seemed it was one darn thing after another.  He deserved a Persistence Award as well. He has been getting a lot of customer interest and has started a new $2.5 million funding campaign to begin building the equipment to install on several future projects.

SMUD was the runner-up in this category with its StorageShares program which gives customers the benefit of storage but with an off-site, consolidated installation sited where it is easiest for the grid to handle.  The program would have broad applications throughout the utility industry.  

While it was the winner in the Food and Agriculture category, the Better Meat Company is worth a mention because it also contributes significantly to sustainability.  They produce a fibrous protein product that can be shaped into servings that look pretty close to meat.  The product is based on growing fungal mycelia in a fermentation tank that can be cleaned, processed and shaped into meat-like servings, with a texture and taste that is pretty close to actual meat.  By cutting out the raising of cattle or chicken, and eliminating the use of so much water and animal feed, Better Meat cuts out a lot of environmental impacts.  They have gotten a good reception from some big name food processors and have a 14,000 square foot production facility in West Sacramento.

If you have an innovation that would fit one of the categories for an Innovation Award, please fill out a nomination form and submit your details when the window opens next year.  These awards attract a lot of positive attention beyond the region and attract investors.  The Sacramento Business Journal issue of November 19-25 has a special section on these awards, so pick up a copy.  

Thomas Hall

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

CleanStart Sponsors

Weintraub | TobinBlueTech Valley, Revrnt, River City Bank

Moss AdamsPowerSoft.biz, Greenberg Traurig, California 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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