CoolChip Technologies Winner of the 2011 MIT Clean Energy Prize

CoolChip Technologies is the winner of this year’s  $200,000 MIT Clean Energy Prize. CoolChip was selected from a field of 80 competitors from 47 different universities across the U.S in the strongest year yet for the Clean Energy Prize. The winner was announced by MIT President Susan Hockfield following remarks by NSTAR CEO Tom May.

CoolChip Technologies is working to bring the next generation of energy efficient microprocessor cooling to consumers and data centers and breaking the “thermal barrier” that is limiting the development of higher powered electronics.  This technology has the potential to greatly reduce the energy used in data center cooling, currently one of their most significant expenses.  The team is the first from MIT to win the Clean Energy Prize and was formed out of the Fall 2010 Energy Ventures course taught by Bill Aulet. The team receives $200,000 in cash sponsored by NSTAR and the Department of Energy.

Skipso, that provided the platform to support this year’s competition, would like to congratulate William Sanchez and team for the fantastic achievement.



Clean, Cool and Urban

As I write, the Clean & Cool Mission to San Francisco 2010 is drawing to an end. Some of the UK’s most exciting cleantech companies participated, and showcased their technologies, business ideas, and brands in the world’s premier cleantech venture space.

The Mission was also a good opportunity for UK cleantech firms to gain exposure to the wider technology funding and specialist community: indeed, the Mission dovetailed with the Cleantech Forum XXVI, sponsored by th Cleantech Group.

Some of the most interesting companies and technologies to be featured in the Clean & Cool Mission in California this year have a clear urban focus. Green building, sustainability, energy efficiency and conservation are buzzwords in an era of recession; but they are also new niches and potentially large new cleantech markets. Indeed, when considering the host of ‘green’ or ‘low carbon’ urban communities (or ‘ecocities’) springing up like mushrooms worldwide – from Masdar, Abu Dhabi, to the Sino-Singaporean Tianjin EcoCity.

These projects herald a new appetite for green building from scratch: for example, Fair Deal Investments (FDI) announced this week that it had completed due diligence on Ecocity Brasil, a 20,000 acre project dubbed the ‘Capital of the Environment’. FDI claims that the project is not only green in environmental terms, but in dollar value too: it expects a return on investment of up to 275% within three years. This may seem very high, and the risk may also be considerable, seeing as cost overruns and project cancellations and delays have blighted some recent ecocity developments.

For example, the approval of the plan for Dongtan Ecocity, on Chongming Island, near Shanghai, was announced amid much fanfare a few years ago. And justifiably so: the city was to be the world’s first large-scale ecocity, using renewables to power homes for up to half a million people. Fast-forward to 2010, and the project – organised by engineering firm Arup – seems to have been mothballed (read an incisive commentary by Austin Williams, director of the Future Cities Project, on this debacle here). However, the urban sphere has undoubtedly become the green sphere, and the green building market is a definite target for cleantech firms in the UK, US, and elsewhere.

This means firms like Cambridge-based Breathing Buildings, which develops passive ventilation stacks and other environmental solutions for making buildings more sustainable; or companies like Integrated Environmental Solutions, which apply IT tools to aid in integrated building performance analysis. Indeed, the firm, which boasts customers such as WalMart, was described by the Clean and Cool Mission as a company which is ‘widely recognised’ as a market leader; its Virtual Environment (VE) tool ‘is used by many of the world’s leading building design and consultancy firms‘. Other exciting green building-focused UK cleantech firms in California this past week have also included Modcell, which develops straw bale and hemp wall and roof cladding. The cladding is to such a high standard that buildings using it will be able to meet PassivHaus standards of comfort and sustainability in all seasons: indeed, buildings built using the cladding may well require little to no heating. PassivHaus buildings achieve energy savings of up to 90% compared with standard buildings.

By Federico Caprotti, writing for Skipso from London


Doing the dirty: coal, gas, and cleantech in the UK

Oil and gas prices, it is often said, do more to influence the development of the cleantech market than the appetite for clean technologies in themselves. This is, largely, a truism: investment amounts in cleantech in the past 10 years have largely tracked rising oil prices, as alternatives are explored and investigated. Rising oil prices also make alternative sources of energy more affordable, and potentially profitable. And as the post-Cold War world struggles to realign itself, energy security has become a geopolitical as well as an economic issue. So far, the focus has largely been on those parts of the cleantech sector which have addressed ‘peak oil’ issues through large-scale engineering solutions: wind power, solar, and – yes – nuclear.

However, a niche market is developing in the exploitation of ‘pockets’ of energy left over from the industrial era and its abandoned landscapes of resource extraction. This niche market is proving especially interesting in those countries like the UK, where industrialization and extractive activities like mining have left opportunities for smaller-scale operators to benefit from the efficiencies to be found in former mining areas. This is the case, for example, with cleantech firms which exploit gas deposits in mines. The potential benefits are twofold: first of all, these pockets of resources are local nuggets of opportunity for firms able to utilise them; secondly, their extraction and use in energy generation feeds in to larger utility and power companies’ need for alternative generation sources to stabilize peak demand during critical periods.

An example of the potential benefit of links between firms which exploit the ‘left-overs’ of extraction and energy firms is Alkane Energy plc. The company has benefited from recent cleantech interest in the ‘greening’ of more traditional utilities and energy firms. Alkane Energy is based in Nottinghamshire, and focuses on the capture of coal mine methane (CMM) for use as fuel for electricity generation. It is one of a handful of players active on the CMM scene and its offshoots, which includes UK Coal’s flaring and gas generating and utilisation facilities at its UK sites.

Another key player is Greenpark Energy, with its business focus on onshore, UK-based coal bed methane (CBM). Alkane Energy currently has a capacity for 37 MW, which is can generate from 25 modular reciprocating engine units at 9 sites across the UK. The basic idea is to exploit gas reserves in coal mine areas – of which the UK has more than a few. The power generated from the engines at the firm’s UK sites feeds in to the grid through a deal with Gaz de France Suez: this is aimed at stabilizing peak supply and demand.

Another example of UK cleantech’s increasing engagement with technology deployment focusing on energy can be found at the venture level. In the past few weeks, Intelligent Energy has announced a successful partnership with the Suzuki Motor Corporation in producing the fuel cell-powered Suzuki Burgman scooter. Intelligent Energy has offices in Loughborough and London in the UK, as well as in Long Beach, California, and a presence in Japan – and it has a long and distinguished track record in technology development and research. The firm was founded in 2001, when it started operations both in London and Loughborough, as a result of its close collaboration with technology know-how at Loughborough University. Fast-forwarding to 2010, the company’s main remit is the development and production of clean power systems, including fuel cell stacks and integrated technologies.

The company has hit the headlines by being selected as a member of the UK’s Cool & Clean Mission 2010 to California, aiming to foster links with investors and other tech firms and potential partners. This means that it has been ranked among the top twenty most innovative and growth-focused cleantech firms in the UK. Nonetheless, Intelligent Energy’s working partnerships have also included Scottish and Southern Energy plc, showing that a focus on utilities and grid energy providers is increasingly seen as the way to go in deploying innovation and clean technologies.

Reporting by Federico Caprotti, writing for Skipso from London

The Green Lighting Challenge Launched Today!

The Skipso team is excited to annouce the launch of a new Cleantech innovation challenge today: The Green Lighting Challenge.

GC Illumination is an Italian company specialised in the design, production and distribution of fixtures for exterior lighting.

GC supplies utilities, municipalities and installation companies in Italy and internationally.GC is looking for innovative solutions and products to enhance the performance of its LED-based product line and extend its functional application to a wider range of fittings.

G.C.'s Wing-Sun Product

Win $10,000 cash award for submitting solutions that will allow GC to meet the required illumination coefficients and to expand its Green Lighting fittings to motorways, urban areas, sports installations and other public areas.

$10,000 Cash Award!

Submit your solution today or refer a friend and win $1,000 if they solve the challenge!