A sampling of green-tech news thus far this week, touching on solar cells, carbon markets, biofuels, and electric cars.NREL: Record Makes Thin-Film Solar Cell Competitive with Silicon Efficiency Thin-film cells made from CIGS hit over 19 percent efficiency in NREL labs, rivaling traditional silicon. Shell, Virent form joint venture to convert crops to biogasoline | Chron.com/Houston Chronicle Forget ethanol. Here come hydrocarbons from plants. Shell and Virent to make 'biogasoline.' Technology Review: More-Powerful Solar Cells MIT spin-off 1366 Technologies (see Green Tech blog coverage) shoots for more efficient solar cells through manufacturing innovations. Pay for the Power, Not the Panels | The New York Times … Read more
"Only the USA and China consume more oil than California," observes Jim Boyd, vice chairman of the California Energy Commission. With oil prices soaring, California must reduce its dependency on oil to sustain prosperity and achieve energy security.
As 38 million Californians deploy a range of solutions to reducing oil usage, the world will learn valuable lessons. In 2006, California consumption of gasoline peaked, even though population continues on the path of doubling over a 30 year period.
In California, more people are driving fewer miles; importantly, fewer solo miles. More efficient vehicles are being used, often benefiting … Read more
Correction done on April 4 to the spelling of Bob Metcalfe's name.
GreenFuel Technologies has reached an agreement to build an algae-to-fuel plant in Europe, which could be worth as much as $92 million, according to a report.
GreenFuel has developed a bioreactor that grows algae from the carbon dioxide emissions of power plants. The algae is harvested and turned into different types of fuel--either biodiesel or biomass--that can be … Read more
It was good enough for John D. Rockefeller Jr.
To promote itself, Detroit Electric--a new joint venture between Zap and China's Youngman Automotive Group--plan to release a limited number of cars based around the Detroit Electric, an electric car produced by the Anderson Electric Car Co. in the early part of the 20th century.
Anderson produced various models of the Detroit Electric from 1907 to 1939. Customers included Henry Ford and Rockefeller. It was also featured on a stamp. TV host Jay Leno has some of the cars in his collection.
When the opportunity came up to buy … Read more
It's March Money Madness in clean tech these days.
Range Fuels, which says it can produce cellulosic ethanol out of wood scraps, has raised $100 million to build a 100-million-gallon-a-year plant in Georgia, according to VentureWire, which posted the news first. Investors in the round include Khosla Ventures (a previous investor) and an unnamed energy company.
Earlier, the company received grants from the U.S. Department of Energy worth up to $76 million, as well as other venture funds.
Plug-in hybrids are coming. General Motors, Tesla Motors, Fisker Automotive and Toyota are all coming out with gas-electric cars that can be charged from a socket.
The question now is can the grid handle it. The latest voice on the debate, Stan Hadley of the Cooling, Heating and Power Technologies Program at Oak Ridge National Laboratories, says it won't be easy. Hadley examined 182 scenarios on how plug-ins might be used in different regions in the U.S. between 2020 and 2030. Hadley assumed a 25 percent penetration of plug-ins by 2020.
In a worst case scenario, Hadley postulated … Read more
Coskata, a start-up that wants to make ethanol out of tires and other stuff found in the dump, has raised $19.5 million in a second round of funding, according to SEC documents scoured by Private Equity Week.
Earlier this year, General Motors announced it had invested in the company and that Coskata would build a demo ethanol plant by the end of the year that would be capable of producing 40,000 gallons of fuel a year. GM will buy the fuel.
Coskata's ultimate goal is to make fuel for $1 a gallon. (After taxes, subsidies and transportation … Read more
North America and Europe are consuming less oil, but worldwide demand is still rising despite increasing prices.
The International Energy Agency came out with its monthly report yesterday and, in some ways, it's business as usual. Demand in Western economies for oil dropped by about 190,000 barrels a day, bringing daily consumption down to 49.3 million barrels. Demand in China, India, and other developing nations, however, rose by 120,000 barrels a day to 38.3 million barrels a day.
In all, that comes to 87.5 million barrels a day of oil being consumed worldwide--close to … Read more
To make ethanol, you want to make vinegar first, according to ZeaChem.
The biofuel start-up, which has moved from Colorado to Silicon Valley, says it has come up with a method of making cellulosic ethanol that results in close to 40 percent more fuel per ton of wood chips than competing processes. By 2010 or so, the company hopes to be producing ethanol commercially for 80 cents a gallon at wholesale. That could translate to anywhere from $1.10 to $1.50 at the pump, depending on a host of factors.
How does it work? Most cellulosic ethanol producers convert … Read more