Cleantech Blog Experts Available for Media & Speaking

All our Cleantech Blog columnists are experts in their fields. Some of them are available for media interviews and quotes, speaking engagements and consulting. You can find biographies, areas of expertise and contact information for the columnists who have agreed to be available for comments below.

Contributing Columnists:

Guest Contributors:

We also welcome contact from PR firms looking to connect with green, sustainable, and cleantech bloggers.

Neal M. Dikeman

For those of you who don’t know me, I founded Cleantech Blog in 2005. I am a merchant banker and co-founder of Jane Capital Partners LLC, where I head the energy and environmental practice, and prior to that worked in venture capital, private equity and investment banking in the tech and energy sectors. We have co-founded four emrging startups in cleantech and IT (in superconductors, fuel cells, RF, and carbon credits) since the tech wreck, and advise the technology and venture investment arms of three multi-nationals. In all of it, I have been lucky enough to work with some amazing colleagues, bosses, and partners. Besides Cleantech Blog, I am a contributing editor of, and contributing author to Inside Greentech.

Along with our own, the blogs I regularly read include Jim Fraser’s The Energy Blog, Rob Day’s CleantechVC, Tyler Hamilton’s Clean Break, Joel Makower’s Two Steps Forward, and Inside Greentech.

My areas of expertise are always a work in process, but I have been quoted, cited, or interviewed on energy, alternative energy, and cleantech issues by numerous online and print publications including Red Herring, Energy Intelligence,, Bloomberg, San Francisco Chronicle,, Ethical Investor, Wall Street Reporter, and among others, on topics ranging from: cleantech, solar, ethanol, blogging, technology commercialization, corporate venture investment, energy prices and policy, technology transfer, carbon trading, and renewable and alternative energy.

Feel free to contact me at

Mr. Richard T. Stuebi

Richard Stuebi has nearly 20 years of experience as an executive, entrepreneur and consultant in the energy industry, with most of the past decade focused on advanced energy technologies. He is currently serving as the BP Fellow for Energy and Environmental Advancement at the Cleveland Foundation, one of the largest community foundations in the US with over $1.6 Billion in assets. He works with various public and private sector stakeholders to promote commercial activity in advanced energy in the Cleveland area. Mr. Stuebi has authored numerous articles that have appeared in such leading industry periodicals as The Electricity Journal and Public Utilities Fortnightly, and has presented at numerous major energy conferences. He is a contributing columnist to Cleantech Blog, writing on alternative energy issues, news and events.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Richard founded NextWave Energy, a professional firm focused on capitalizing upon new business opportunities stemming from innovative energy technologies. As President of NextWave Energy, he assisted several emerging and established private-sector clients in various aspects of business development, including strategy and capital formation.
Previously, Richard was a senior vice president at Louis Dreyfus, the global commodity trading firm and was a management consultant in the energy practice of McKinsey & Co. Richard earned degrees in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University.

His areas of expertise include:

Economics in alternative and renewable energy, energy policy, trade, and development. Cleantech finance and technology strategy.

You can contact him at

Ms. Heather Rae

Heather is a green marketing expert and a long-time advocate of green technology and sustainable business. Through her consultancy Brae Consulting, Heather has worked for energy companies, cleantech startups, and nonprofits (she is currently working with a home energy efficiency program of the Maine Governor’s office). Her previous corporate marketing experience includes Xcel Energy (demand-side management and green power) and Qwest Communications.

A hands on expert – Heather has practiced what she preached. She is certified in high performance residential building (Green Advantage®) and has served as co-director of Colorado’s Interfaith Power & Light. Readers of Cleantech Blog will know that Heather converted a retired school bus into the Brae Bio Bus, a recreational vehicle running on biodiesel (B100) with solar panels for auxiliary power, and recently drove it across the country blogging the experiences in finding biodiesel in different parts of the US. Having reached her destination at Maine Home Performance, a program of the Maine Governor’s Office where Heather is helping design programs to certify and link Maine contractors with homeowners who want to “go green”, Heather is now tackling the conversion of an 1880s Maine farmhouse into an energy efficiency and green showcase.

Heather graduated from Wesleyan University and is a contributing columnist to Cleantech Blog writing on green and sustainable products and marketing from the consumer’s point of view.

Her areas of expertise include:

Green marketing programs and strategies, grass roots green and sustainable programs for consumers, using green technologies in the home.

You can contact her at

Mr. John Addison

John is an accomplished writer, speaker, and expert in technology marketing and strategy. He is one of the IT converts that are driving the cleantech industry. Since 1992, his marketing consultancy OPTIMARK, Inc. has provided educational programs, market intelligence, market development and partner development for technology and government leaders.

A believer in cleantech’s potential to change the world for the better, John is the Publisher of the Clean Fleet Report and serves on the Board of the California Hydrogen Business Council. He is a contributing columnist to Cleantech Blog. He is the author of the book Revenue Rocket on channel marketing in technology, and the upcoming book Save Gas, Save the Planet on what we as individuals can do to help save the planet. Earlier in his career John was an area channel manager for Sun Microsystems. For three years, he led a sales team to 300% annual growth in 15 states, increasing revenue from $4 to $110 million.

He has taught courses about marketing and innovation at U.C. Davis and U.C. Santa Cruz Extension. He is a popular speaker in the Americas, Europe and Asia. You can find more of his speeches and articles on his websites Clean Fleet Report and Revenue Rocket.

His areas of expertise include:

Technology marketing and marketing strategy, channel marketing, fuel cells and the hydrogen economy, alternative fueled fleets, and California’s energy tech corridor.

You can contact him at

Dr. Peter Beadle

Peter is the owner and CEO of He is an is an experienced technology executive and an expert on a wide range of green and energy technologies, including photovoltaics, fuel processing, fuel cells, and oil & gas technologies.

Green Jobs is one of the few dedicated job sites for the renewables and cleantech industry. They put out the online Green Directory, as well as a weekly newsletter on People News in cleantech. Peter is a contributing columnist to Cleantech Blog writing on renewable energy news and events.

Peter holds a PhD in Physical Chemistry, and previously served President of BP Solar’s North American division. Prior to that he held a number of positions in R&D and technology management within British Petroleum.

His areas of expertise include:

Solar, fuel cells, oil & gas, renewable energy job market

You can contact him at

A Green Christmas

Friday. Brunswick, Maine.
Rain pours down on the Cuddy Seafood truck where lobstermen sell their morning’s haul. Environment Maine reports, “to the south in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, ocean temperatures have increased enough to make lobsters more susceptible to disease, and as a result, populations have plummeted.” Lobsters play a bit part in my family’s seaside lore. Over Christmas dinner, my mother (who was born in Portland, Maine) will exclaim, exasperated, “try buying a lobster in New England!”

Saturday. The Old Albany-New York Post Road.
The rain begs off. Temperatures remain high. The sun peeps through. We traipse this historically-rich dirt road running a ridge above the Hudson River. A tower of large grey bullhorns looms overhead, ready to sound should radiation emit from the Indian Point nuclear plant. We look up. The horns are ominous.
My brother says, “You know, I wish they weren’t there at all.”
“What would you do anyway? Clog this old road and Route 9 and then the New York State Thruway with everyone else trying to escape?
Odd, but I think of Hillary Clinton escaping a nuclear debacle from her abode in Chappaqua, New York, skeetering through back roads to the Saw Mill River Parkway. Or will she escape by helicopter? On Christmas day, Matthew Wald in the New York Times will write about nuclear firms seeking rules to combat attacks. It is not a comforting article. On Tuesday, Dr. Helen Caldicott of Nuclear Policy Research Institute will announce a greenhouse gas reduction plan that does not include nuclear power.

Sunday. A country market on Route 9, New York.
“Green isn’t sexy,” says my sexy sister-in-law. Her sexy sister nods, “My friend drives a Prius and she wants to know ‘why is it always aging men who drive Prius’s?'” National Public Radio will report that Victoria’s Secret is using a bit of recycled paper in its catalogues to green its image.

Monday, Christmas Day. The Upper West Side.
At the edge of the bridal path in Central Park, a patch of daffodil bulbs push up 10 inch green shoots through moist soil.
“There’s a cherry tree budding at the Botanical Gardens,” says my brother, perturbed.

Monday, Christmas Dinner. Same venue.
My mother — a 30-year middle school science teacher — learns that the National Science Teacher Association has declined free copies of “An Inconvenient Truth.” She is already using a section of the film in her curriculum. We agree that under this administration, the nation and the public school system are in the toilet. We argue about ethanol.

Tuesday morning. The Hudson Valley Gateway.
My father visits. He believes the unusually warm temperature is nothing more than that.
“I don’t believe all that.” (All that is climate change.)
“Have you seen ‘An Inconvenient Truth’?”
“You should see it.”
We join my brother in neutral territory, thinning trees along the Old Albany-New York Post Road, up the road from the nuclear sirens where the December grass is as green as the boxwood.

Other goings on this week:
Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN) airs a steady stream of green, sustainability and cleantech stories. Wind farms in New England feature prominently. Check out the photos of the Mars Hill wind project on J Kirlin’s website.

Amory Lovins Stepping Down at RMI plus Other Green Tidbits from Aspen

I spent the week before Christmas skiing in Aspen, and, go figure, certainly couldn’t escape news on the greening of America there.

The big news, that I found reported earlier in the Aspen Times: Amory Lovins is stepping down as CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute, which he co-founded over 30 years ago. He will step aside to become RMI’s Chief Scientist, and RMI is looking for a new CEO. For those of you that don’t know, Lovins is one of the most recognized names in energy efficiency in America. If you think you can follow in his footsteps, take a chance and apply for the job! You can email RMI’s HR Manager at

Then while taking a brief time out from skiing (I am not actually very good) I went in to drink coffee in the sunny lodge of the Sundeck Restaurant on Aspen Mountain. The first thing you notice walking through the front door (besides the massage chair, which I really needed after a day of skiing) is the plaque which bills the Sundeck as one of the first 10 LEEDs buildings in America. Details of the Sundeck Restaurant project here. The total cost was $9.8 mm, or an eye-popping $425/square foot (I assume driven partly by LEEDs requirements, and partly by the top of a ski resort location!). But the part I liked the most was the re-use of 86% of the materials from the previous Sundeck building. Because at the end of the day, despite all the advances in cleantech – the real answer to our energy issues is still the same – Reduce, Recycle, Reuse.

This got me interested in what else Aspen was doing in its environmental program:

Aspen Skiing Company joined the fight for climate change this year and among other parts of its environmental program, is now 100% wind powered, through the purchase of wind energy credits.

Aspen also fuels its snowcats with biodiesel, from Blue Sun Biodiesel. The best part is they actually publish on their website an interesting description of the impact of the biodiesel use: “In the winter of 2002, ASC experimented with an 80% diesel/20% biodiesel blend. Mechanics noticed that the fuel, which makes snowcat exhaust smell like french fries, radically reduced black tailpipe smoke and that the snowcats ran smoother, a result of biodiesel’s higher lubricity, a quality that also extends the life of mechanical components. Based on our testing, ASC has now switched its entire fleet of snowcats to biodiesel. The cost is about 20 cents more per gallon, a small cost to pay for benefits that include hydrocarbon emissions reductions of 20% and CO and particulate reductions of 10%. The one drawback is that biodiesel typically increases NOx emissions by 2%. “More details here.

And finally, for someone keenly interested in the carbon credit /green tag sector, I noticed while standing in the lift lines, that Aspen Snowmass now sells carbon offset SkiGreen Tags ($20) and SkiGreen Mini-Tags ($2), so environmentally conscious skiers can offset their ski lift-driven C02 usage. They are doing this in partnership with the Bonneville Environment Foundaton. More info here.

Merry Christmas!

Author Neal Dikeman is a founding partner at Jane Capital Partners LLC, a boutique merchant bank advising strategic investors and startups in cleantech. He is the founding contributor of Cleantech Blog, and a Contributing Editor to

Will the Electric Car Kill General Motors?

A recent movie and several books asked the question “Who killed the electric car?” then answered GM. Indeed, the major auto makers successfully defeated California’s attempt to mandate that 10% of car sales be electric vehicles (EV). GM retrieved the EV1 at the end of their lease periods and crushed almost all. Yet, GM and other auto makers have continued to pour billions into electric motors, advanced batteries, hybrid-electric propulsion, and electric vehicles where hydrogen fuel cells supply electricity to electric motors.

The more relevant question is this, “Will electric vehicles kill General Motors?” Most people on the planet cannot afford gasoline powered cars. Increasingly they can save $200 for an electric scooter. Over 30 million people drive electric vehicles. Jonathan Weinert reports on the exploding popularity of e-bikes in China.

As incomes increase, early adopters in China, India and other emerging nations will upgrade to new generations of light electric vehicles (LEV). Most of these vehicles will have 3 or 4 wheels and carry increasing numbers of passengers and loads.

Established market leaders commonly ignore or sarcastically dismiss low-cost and under-powered alternatives to their market leading products. Initially downloaded music in MP3 players had poor sound quality and was illegal. Now the music industry is transformed as people listen to high-quality music downloaded to their iPods and smartphones.

IBM was so dominant with mainframe computers that it suffered years of anti-trust litigation. Digital Computers sold far less powerful, but cheaper, mini-computers to labs. IBM ignored the threat of the mini-computer until the information technology industry had shifted to networked minis. Continual innovation and dropping prices of chips and networking brought another revolution with PCs replacing mini-computers. Digital did not learn from its own disruptive success and dismissed PCs as useless. Digital was later bought by Compaq, the very company that disrupted the minicomputer success. PCs are now under attack by the Internet. Microsoft is watching Google very carefully.

Just as a body’s immune system will try to reject a newly transplanted heart, successful organizations reject disruptive change. The phenomenon is so common that business schools now require the reading of Clayton Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma and Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm. Let us hope that the executives of GM are reading these classics. Reading my book Revenue Rocket is also recommended.

The interiors of vehicles are becoming electronic in everything from displays to entertainment systems to GPS guidance. Under the hood, it is the same story. Mechanical parts are being replaced by electronic components. In hybrid vehicles, electric motors are doing more; the companion gasoline engines are getting smaller. In the future vehicles will be primarily electronic. Internal combustion engines will be retired. Small vehicles not requiring long-range will get their power from the electric grid. Vehicles requiring more range or carrying heavier loads will be electric vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells.
Some at GM get this. GM is currently putting 100 hydrogen fuel cell Equinoxes on the road. A couple of weeks ago, I drove this exciting vehicle on surface streets and on the freeway. It is a powerful car that many would want to own. The R&D people at GM have an exciting vision that includes advanced batteries; regenerative braking; a thin “skateboard” platform common to multiple vehicles; drive-by-wire replacement of mechanical links to pedals and steering wheel; and electric motors. GM plans to start selling its next generation fuel cell vehicle by 2011. GM’s CEO Rick Wagoner has stated plans to lead in plug-in hybrids, when battery technology meets its quality standards. The vehicle will use a big 3.6L engine.

Will the heart transplant take? Or will the patient’s antibodies reject the needed organ? In 2005, GM reported a loss of over $10 billion. Its global market share has shrunk to 13%. Thanks to its pension obligations, labor contracts and overhead, it cannot make a small car at a profit. It focuses on large SUVs and large trucks with gas guzzling engines in hopes of making money. The bulk of the corporate momentum is not in future electric vehicles but in big vehicles with engines.

Toyota, riding on the success of hybrids and more fuel-efficient vehicles, is overtaking GM’s position as #1 market share leader globally. It threatens to beat GM to market with a plug-in hybrid. Within three years, Nissan Motor Co. plans to develop and market subcompact electric cars powered by self-developed lithium-ion batteries.

Honda wowed visitors at the LA Auto Show with its 350-mile range hydrogen fuel-cell Concept FCX, which it will start leasing to consumers and business in 2008. When Honda started selling motor scooters in the U.S. in 1959, GM could not have anticipated Honda’s future success in cars. Now as the global market shifts towards electric vehicles, Honda is also one of the leader’s in selling e-bikes in Asia. Is it déjà vu all over again?

In the sea of change that is beginning, tsunamis are racing to crash on America’s shores. One is Asian production of vehicles with electric drive systems. Another is the disappearance of cheap oil. Another is global demand for affordable vehicles. We will see how skillfully GM navigates in a perfect storm.
John Addison is the author of business strategy book Revenue Rocket and the upcoming book Save Gas, Save the Planet. He publishes the Clean Fleet Report and is a popular speaker.

A Prius Among Weeds: Product Placement

Like your product placement unsubtle, overt and obvious?

Watch for the bottle of New Belgium Brewery’s Fat Tire beer in “Fast Food Nation.” In it, Bruce Willis plays a character who sells meat to the nearly-fictional Mickey’s, a fast food burger chain whose marketing guy (Greg Kinnear) is trying to figure out why “there’s s*** in the meat” patties. The scene with Willis and Kinnear is set in Cody, Colorado at a restaurant near the stock pens and the offending meat packer and its suffering illegal laborers. The Fat Tire label is directed right at the camera, while Willis spouts off, threatening and menacing, about whiny Americans who should just learn to cook their meat and shut up – as he orders another Fat Tire. New Belgium Brewery is one of the more progressively sustainable operations around. I wonder if they are happy with the association of contaminated meat, the social injustices of the fast food industry as portrayed very realistically in this movie. Perhaps New Belgium was going for “hip with irony” product association. (On the far side from irony, I recently read Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” and followed it up with “Supersize Me” and “Fast Food Nation,” and am too revolted for any of it to be the object of an inside wink.)

Like your product placement complex and suspect?

In the Showtime series “Weeds,” Mary-Louise Parker plays Nancy Botwin, the mother of two boys in the nearly-fictional and wealthy California suburb of Agrestic. Her dead husband has left Nancy and the boys in financial straights. So Nancy sells weed. She’s very good at it. So good, in fact, she can keep the house and the maid and the ne’er-do-well brother-in-law afloat and buy a Prius.

Accompanied by a little Caribbean ditty “life can be so sunny with money, money, money,” Nancy drives the Prius home to her youngest son, Shane. Shane is at the age when truth comes easily and is (or should be) un-punishable. He’s playing with an electric car in the driveway. Nancy runs over his toy car, smashing it to smithereens.

“Sweetie, I’m sorry. I didn’t see it. I’m not used to driving this low to the ground.”
“Did you total your car, too?”
“What? No. The lease was up. I just bought this. Isn’t it cute?”
“No. It’s crappy and small.”
“It’s environmentally responsible.”
“I liked the Range Rover.”
“The Range Rover was obnoxious. There’s global warming. Unless you want the planet to dissolve to one big ocean…”
“Global warming is just God’s will. I liked the Range Rover. This car’s gay.”
“Don’t be ignorant, just because it’s in right now. Care about the planet for a change.”

Nancy then unloads from the trunk of the Prius loot from an expensive shopping spree.

I don’t want to spoil the series for anyone who has not yet seen it…but here’s the set up for another scene from the second series: Nancy has mucked it up for her former weed supplier, Heylia, whom the federal drug agents have raided and shut down. Nancy drives (the Prius) to a meeting with Heylia to suggest Heylia buy Nancy’s crop and take the business out of state. Heleah mocks Nancy.

“Oh, so now I’m supposed to traffic across state lines? Ain’t that genius. Take a business it took me 20 years to build and just pick it up and move it someplace else. You tellin’ me you’re getting the shakedown from Mr. Federal Agent? Well, good. Welcome to the f***** party. Conrad know you come see me?” (Conrad is Nancy’s business partner who used to work with Heylia…and is Heylia’s nephew.)
“No. You buyin’ or not?”
“You two like them big companies pumping toxic s*** in the air and then acting all surprised when ice caps melt and hurricanes drown the wards.”
“F*** you. I drive a Prius.”

In the last episode of the HBO series, “Six Feet Under,” the young female character, Claire, gets into a car and pushes a button to start it. The camera then pans back to show Claire driving to New York – to her big wide future, acting on her passions as an artist – in a Prius. For Toyota, that was great product placement.

In “Weeds,” the message is not as goose-fleshy, and it’s no less meaningful.

Breaking the 40% Barrier

In addition to reducing costs, a key challenge facing PV technologists is to improve the conversion efficiencies of solar cells. The greater the efficiency, the smaller the solar panel needs to be to produce a given output of energy.

Currently, PV efficiencies are pretty low; that’s why a solar system installed on a house rooftop can only supply a modest portion of the home’s electricity requirements. The typical crystalline silicon module in PV systems commonly installed today achieves about 15% efficiency: 15% of the energy from the solar radiation reaching the ground is turned into electricity. The theoretical maximum efficiency for solar is at least 65%, so there’s clearly a lot of room for improvement.

Earlier this month, Spectrolab — a wholly-owned subsidiary of Boeing (NYSE: BA) — announced that it had demonstrated a solar cell with 40.7% efficiency.

Press release

Until now, the best that had ever been achieved in a laboratory had been about 34% efficiency, so the Spectrolab announcement represents a significant leap forward.

When solar systems with efficiencies above 30% and costs below $2/watt can be produced in volume, we’ll be seeing large PV systems in fields and PV modules on most rooftops around the world — and solar can finally begin to fulfill its promise for sustainable energy supply.

Solar Santa Monica

With panoramic views of the ocean, over 86,000 make Santa Monica their home. On the edge of Los Angeles, Santa Monica is a desirable place to work and live. Residents want to keep it that way and make the city a model of sustainable living.

Santa Monica wants to be the nation’s first “Net Zero” city. Through energy efficiency, solar and other renewable energy, the city envisions generating clean energy that matches its total energy consumption.

Santa Monica currently has over 60 buildings with solar power. Other residential and commercial buildings are in the process of installing solar roofing. The Civic Center Parking Structure will have 250 kW of PV.

Solar Santa Monica formally launches a two year program on January 1, 2007. The voluntary program will start with 50 residential and commercial buildings. With the benefit of what is learned from these 50 projects, the program will be made available to all. The 50 buildings will include 30 to 35 residences, 5 to10 business and 5 municipal buildings.

Susan Munves estimated that over 20 years, $1.4 billion is the probable investment required to achieve being a “Net Zero” city. This is likely to offset a utility electric charges which would be higher than the $1.4 billion. The city will only invest a small part of that investment. The city’s primary role is facilitating and project management. The city will offer a number of “carrots and sticks” to encourage broad participation.

Stuart Cooley, Energy Efficiency Engineer for the city, explained that a detailed GIS database was developed of all the roofs of the city. Aerial photography was used to identify over 100MW of available rooftops on the 17,500 roofs in the city. With future solar PV technology, the roofs could represent even more solar energy potential.

To attract wide participation, the city will make efficiency and solar installation convenient. Packages are offered to residents that take advantage of pre-negotiated discounted energy efficient appliances, solar products, and simple financing. The Solar Santa Monica team will assist at all stages.

To prevent excess expensive solar power from being installed, the city offers energy audits and identifies solutions from efficient fluorescent lighting to energy saving appliances to cut usage. To save money, the city is prequalifing “preferred partners” to install efficiency upgrades. Prepackaged PV and solar thermal systems will be offered to residents with streamlined purchasing, permitting, installation and financing.

For commercial properties, Solar Santa Monica will provide comprehensive energy assessments for both the property owners and the leasing businesses. Proposals will be delivered with energy bill analysis, system specifications and pay-back analysis. Tax advantages will be detailed. Preferred financing sources will be offered.

Santa Monica’s 20 year plan would eliminate electricity produced by coal and natural gas power plants, and all the resulting greenhouse gas emissions.

Santa Monica goes beyond clean electricity to be a city that models clean transportation. Over 80% of the city’s 519 vehicles are either alt-fuel or electric. 100 of Santa Monica’s Big Bus fleet is LNG, which they state is 77% cleaner than diesel. Liquid NG provides a 300 mile range. 88 buses run on B20 biodiesel. Only about 20 older buses run on standard diesel.

Rick Sikes, Fleet Superintendent, showed me a wide range of clean vehicles. A total of 265 city vehicles run on natural gas, include heavy trucks and street sweepers. The city negotiated a favorable contract for CNG costing the equivalent of $2 per gallon. 21 city cars are hybrid.

5 of the city’s fleet of Toyota Priuses were converted by Quantum to run on pure hydrogen. The city has a Proton electrolyzer that splits water (H2O) into hydrogen and oxygen. The city buys renewable energy credits (REC) for the electricity that runs the electrolyzer, resulting in the hydrogen Priuses producing no green house gases, on a “well to wheels” basis.

Over the next few years the city fleet will get cleaner. Hydrogen can be mixed with CNG to make many of the existing vehicles run cleaner.

The city uses the right vehicles for the right applications. 27 electric vehicles including GEMs and electric scooters have ranges of fewer than 70 miles and do not exceed 25 miles per hour. For jobs like parking enforcement and quick commutes inside the city, the zero-emission vehicles are perfect, as are the 70-mile range hydrogen Priuses.

Beyond the city owner fleet, Santa Monica commuters are encouraged to burn less oil than the national average. Only 69% drive solo vs. 76% as the national average. In Santa Monica, 19% carpool, 7% bus, 3% walk and 2% bike to work. The city is making progress. In 1993, the average vehicle ridership was only 1.1; by 2005, it had jumped to 1.4. By 2010, the goal is 1.5.

Rideshare programs are encouraged. Financial incentives work. The City of Santa Monica implements a mandatory “Parking Cash Out” Program, which is a State law requiring employers of fifty or more employees who lease their parking and subsidize any part of their employee parking to offer their employees the opportunity to give up their parking space and rideshare to work instead. In return for giving up their parking space, the employer pays the employee the cost of the parking space. The city provides this for its only employees, achieving an AVR of almost 1.8.

Santa Monica has the potential to be a model of clean transportation, energy efficiency and renewable energy for other cities around the world.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report. His firm OPTIMARK Inc. conducts fleet outreach, market intelligence, and cleantech market development. John serves on the Board of the California Hydrogen Business Council. He can be reached at John is the author of the upcoming book Save Gas, Save the Planet.

Pulse and Glide: Getting the Most out of Hybrid Marketing

Rick Karg of RJ Karg Associates is a long-time energy consultant. He drove to Manhattan to visit his brother for Thanksgiving and spent turkey day at the police station filing a report. Someone stole off with his van. Back home in Maine, Rick replaced his tried and true sailboat-hauler with a Toyota Highlander – complete with tow package – from Lee Toyota in Topsham.

Hybrid buyers are a different breed, says Adam Lee, owner of Lee Auto Malls, the number one seller of hybrids in Maine where Rick became the happy papa of a hybrid. I learned a bit about hybrid habits from hanging around Rick who read his Highlander owner manual front to back the first night he brought the car home. The technology is intriguing; the car’s dash displays the electricity flow from battery to wheel, wheel to battery.

Adam Lee, a Maine native and third generation car dealer, tells me the average hybrid buyer is in his or her 60s, has an average income of $98K and is well-educated. But, notes Lee, things change; like bottled water and organics, the hybrid is going mainstream. Trouble is, says Lee, mainstream needs a car that’s affordable. “People with discretionary income buy the hybrids. The Prius is a luxury car.” Other cars get the mileage – the 35-40mpg – but they don’t have the lower emissions, and that’s what the environmentally-minded Prius buyers seek. It’s just not within the price range for mainstream.

I prepared only two questions for Lee after I’d been tipped off by Rick that Lee was distributing compact fluorescent bulbs to his hybrid buyers: 1) how did you decide to distribute compact fluorescent bulbs to your hybrid buyers?; 2) what other marketing do you do around hybrids?

Lee’s extensive involvement in the environmental community was, for me, unexpected: he’s on the board of Maine Audubon, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and the Natural Resource Council of Maine. He’s an advisor to the Nature Conservancy. His company supports public radio. Says Lee: “We do a lot of small donations.” After Lee began selling hybrids in 2001, the Maine Council of Churches approached him. They were looking for a hybrid to display at a clean energy fair. “Word got out that we were very supportive, and we were at every fair.”

Lee acknowledges that none of this leadership in the environment will lead business directly to the doors of his multiple car dealerships. “I don’t expect to make the money back.” So why do it? “I do it because it’s the right thing to do. We could sit around and the hybrid would sell, but I believe it’s important. I have kids. I live in Maine. It helps to spread the message, and I hope that it creates more buyers.” Artwork by Lee’s children adorns the door to his office just off of the dealership showroom.

Lee donated a Toyota Highlander hybrid (31mpg) for the Maine Home Performance with Energy Star® Whole House Makeover show which is running on Maine’s CW TV out of Portland – Lee’s dealership got a major plug by the Show, although he asked not to have it so. “If you do good things, you’ll be rewarded. We would keep doing it, regardless.”

That includes a break with fellow car dealers: Lee testified on behalf of a clean car bill in Maine, a bill similar to California’s law calling for lowering pollutants from car exhausts.

“People are going to buy cars. I’m a bit at odds, as a dealer.” (Lee is also the number one seller in Maine of Jeeps, a gas guzzler: “We can’t sell only hybrids.”) But, he says, “If I can use a tiny bit of influence to get manufacturers to produce the cleaner cars, I will. They won’t do it until they are forced to make them.” Echoing Amory Lovins’ ‘drilling in Detroit,’ Lee says, “bringing up CAFE, that would have more impact than every hybrid produced.” He believes car manufacturers have failed the public by not producing cars and trucks with better gas mileage, and the federal government is going to have to force the car manufacturers to do it.

Meanwhile, Lee testifies and he sells a car that has aura – and a waiting list. “Toyota is on to something. They work hard to get more sales. You can’t fake this. You can’t ignore people’s wishes. The challenge is meeting demand.” In contrast, “GM’s cars aren’t interesting, even if they get 30-40mpg. They’re not reliable enough; they’re practical, not sexy. High mileage alone isn’t enough. Perception is important.” In a car market that has too much capacity, “Toyota’s in the lead.”

If the economy stays up and the price stays up, Lee believes Toyota will come out with financing incentives. The trick is not to dispel the aura that lends itself to the up-market segment. “Sometimes it’s just good fortune to have a great product that movie stars drive. Toyota should stick to brand.” Perhaps Toyota will “de-content” the hybrid (that is, remove features like GPS that jack up the price.)

Lee will continue to market with compact fluorescent bulbs, to partner with greenies, to sit on environmental boards. “We’re always doing something. We copied an article called ‘Pulse and Glide. How to Get 100mgp’ and sent it to our hybrid buyers.”

Lee and Toyota understand the game of feedback, the allure of watching electricity flow from battery to wheel, wheel to battery as hybrid owners try to get the most mileage out of the mpg gauge. “Feedback. The game needs feedback. Kids love it!”

So do adults. My mother who is in her 70s told me this week that she wants a hybrid. She loves her old Toyota Tacoma. My brother recently bought a Tacoma extended cab for his new country house. I know when my mom says ‘hybrid,’ it’s synonymous with Toyota.

Other goings on this week
I attended the 2006 Maine Neighborhoods: Building Strong Communities conference yesterday. Maine may look sleepy – and the abandoned textile and shoe factories bleak – but when it comes to cleantech, it has great potential; it has an energized, interested, involved community focused on sustainability. Yet, a recently released report from the Brookings Institution says Maine suffers from pessimism about its future. That’s not what I saw yesterday.

US Tax dollars already have lithium problem licked

It’s amazing how in just a few short months, the whole of the US Auto industry and a lot more besides have got behind the Plug-in hybrid. Even if sales of conventional hybrids have fallen a little, according to the Wall Street Journal with the cuts backs on subsidies and a fall in the price of gasoline the general consensus, from GM through to Ford is that Hybrids are a “good thing.” It’s encouraging but worrying at the same time, because even the bosses like Lutz and Waggoner know that as of today, they don’t have the batteries to hand to make these Plug in hybrids possible.Neither do the Japanese— for years regarded as the masters of advanced battery technology.

Fortunately, there is at least one place in the USA where the chemistry to make these batteries possible may exist— they ar laboratories funded by the US taxpayer. Tucked away in countryside about 20 miles from Chicago is the Argonne National Laboratory and I was fortunate enough to be allowed inside… since 9/11, security is stiff.

Even though the USA no longer has major players in the advanced lithium battery field, the powers that be were smart enough to realize that this stuff was strategic and would one day be “needed”. That time is now. This couldn’t happen in the UK where I come from because Thatcher and her minions wiped out so much strategic science during the 1980s and stuff that didn’t pay for itself there and then was either privatized and closed down.

So what’s at Argonne? You’d have to have been blind not to notice the “problems” faced by the lap top industry and small lithium ion batteries. The problem comes when they get hot and the metal oxide cathodes decompose liberating oxygen. Combine this with flammable electrolyes and the results is a singed brief case or worse. Nobody in the auto industry wants to see this happen or the Plug in hybrid will be buried even faster than the EV1.

Fortunately there are new cathode materials under development , which will not only do better in minimising potential conflagrations which use finer (nano structured) materials but they cost less also (ie the elements used are just more abundant).

The chemists in Argonne’s battery group are also borrowing modeling techniques that the physicists based there use, to create the structure of future battery materials and see how they’ll behave…. And that before one gram of the stuff is even synthesized.

The USA might not be able to muster much in terms of manufacturing capability in advanced lithium technologies but the creativity is there in spades— it’s really up to the US automakers to take up the work that their taxes have paid for and turn remarkable workinto profits, jobs and reduced emissions.

Gerry Woolf has worked as a science and technology writer for (wait for it) – 25 years and is Editor and publisher of BEST (Batteries and Energy Storage Technology) Magazine. BEST is an international journal launched in 2003 and the leading publication covering battery and electrochemical power. It is available on line and in hard copy form on subscription only. How we get the batteries right and whose doing what to get them right is at the heart of BEST magazine, published quarterly from the UK. To find out more go to can read more about this in the Winter issue of BEST magazine, which will be published January 15th. 2007. Go to for more details.

Energy Bulletin

Perhaps I’m behind the times, but last week I found a really good bulletin board of provocative articles called Energy Bulletin. The site is especially good on “peak oil” topics, but also has some good posts on a variety of sustainability and renewables issues as well. A couple hours of surfing here could be well worth your time. Alas, if I only had that luxury these days….

30% Federal Solar Tax Credit Extended – The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.

From the Solar Energy Industries Association:

“In its waning hours, the 109th Congress today passed legislation that would extend the 30% solar energy investment tax credit (ITC) for homeowners and businesses for one additional year, through the end of 2008.”

Established in 2005, and previously slated to sunset in 2007, the 30% tax credit was a significant step up, but as SEIA points out, in 1 and 2 year drips and drabs, is barely worth the trouble.

The mechanism:

“Residential Solar Tax Credit: Extends a 30-percent tax credit, created in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, for the purchase of residential solar water heating, photovoltaic equipment, and fuel cell property. Expires after December 31, 2008.

Business Solar Tax Credit and Fuel Cell Tax Credit: Extends a 30-percent business credit, established in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, for the purchase of fuel cell power plants, solar energy property, and fiber-optic property used to illuminate the inside of a structure. After December 31, 2008, the credit reverts to a permanent 10-percent level.”

The Good

The solar industry needed this badly. the 30% tax credit (up from 10%) provided a much needed boost – you can tell because not only has the activity on solar power plant financings picked up considerably, when you run the numbers on the projects, that extra 20% provides a lot of extra juice.

The Bad

One extra year is not much of a policy in any case. Does extending the sunset 1 year mean that Congress really doesn’t want to deal with it in 2007, and will maybe just wait until 2008 to consider the 8 year extension the industry wants? Let’s either do a comprehensive solar bill or drop it all together, but stop playing in drips and drabs.

The Ugly

This is only a part of the overall subsidy package. It still takes an accelerated depreciation and the state rebates to make these projects come anywhere close to penciling out – meaning when the private sector spend $1 for solar, the taxpayer spends about a $1.50. Keep on trucking, we have a long way to go.

In other news, the California PUC last week issued a proposed decision to let solar system owners keep the renewable energy credits from their projects. I must admit, I haven’t followed this debate closely, but I really don’t understand the argument to give them to the utility.

Author Neal Dikeman is a founding partner at Jane Capital Partners LLC, a boutique merchant bank advising strategic investors and startups in cleantech. He is the founding contributor of Cleantech Blog, and a Contributing Editor to

Consumers Continue to Demand Environmentally Friendly Cars and Automakers Respond with Electric, Plug-in Hybrids and Flex-Fuel ‘Green’ Vehicles

Issues of Global Warming, Fuel Prices and Energy Independence Drive Demand for Cleantech Vehicles

As the auto industry faces recent slipping sales, clean energy vehicles are catching the attention of consumers looking for efficiency and environmentally friendly alternatives, giving manufacturers a new direction for growth. The momentum behind green cars is a reaction to a variety of factors such as fuel prices despite current declines, environmental issues such as greenhouse gas emissions and global national energy security concerns.

This week many new clean energy vehicles are being introduced at the Los Angeles Auto Show, a platform for the unveiling of current and future alternative vehicles. Creating a buzz were displays of plug-in hybrids, which use electric motors with a gasoline engine as a backup, and electric vehicles that run entirely on electricity. Also in the mix were natural gas, ethanol and biodiesel vehicles. Another event, the AltCars Expo this weekend in Santa Monica, is shaping up to be the one of the premiere events for alternative fuel vehicles, and many of the new models and concepts will be present.

Recently, major automakers Toyota, Honda, General Motors and Nissan revealed a future that includes the production of various clean energy models. General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner has announced GM’s plans to develop a plug-in hybrid for its Saturn Vue Green Line SUV, but with no specific date for production revealed. General Motors has also unveiled the concept behind the Hummer “O2” which converts carbon dioxide to oxygen using algae-filled body panels.

General Motors is also focusing on cars that run on ethanol (E85) as part of their overall corporate environmental strategy moving forward. With ethanol becoming more widely available, as more producers such as Green Plains Renewable Energy (NASDAQ: GPRE) bring plant production online, these flex-fuel vehicles offer automakers viable near term opportunities while they continue to develop their next generation of green cars.

Hyundai is committing research efforts to hydrogen-powered fuel cells and vehicles that run on clean diesel as well as gas-electric hybrids. Honda is also looking at fuel cells with plans for hydrogen-powered sedans for 2008. Toyota Motor Corp, the largest seller of traditional hybrids, is another major automaker talking about developing plug-in models.

While many companies pursue the plug-in hybrid models, full electric vehicles are rapidly grabbing industry attention. While there are very few publicly owned companies currently offering mass-produced electric cars, one private firm Tesla Motors is showcasing its new Roadster prototype, planned for limited production as early as 2007, but with a price tag of $100,000USD. Nissan has plans for a 125-mile range all-electric car, but plans for production are targeted for 2010.

Electric car manufacturer and distributor ZAP (OTCBB: ZAAP) has a jump on the market with the only mass-produced and affordable electric car available for sale today. ZAP’s XEBRA city-car and truck is currently on sale through dealerships in Los Angeles for approximately $10,000USD. With most automakers looking several years down the road for market entry of most plug-in hybrids and electric models, ZAP appears well positioned to fill today’s consumer demands.

As a sign of things to come Yahoo! has created a special feature within Yahoo! Autos dedicated to green cars including ratings, technological overviews as well as community information and news pointing towards further validation of the potential behind the green car market.

Black Friday Be Damned

Energy has taken front seat at warp speed. We’ve been here before (energy is all the rage…again!)

My life is changing gears, downshifting for a ride into managing an energy project in the built environment.

After a month of training in home performance in Ithaca, New York – living in the brae bio-bus and soothed by waterfalls – I have landed near Brunswick, Maine, surrounded by oceans and pines – and an active network of people involved in sustainability and all things energy.

There’s FW Horch on Main Street where Fred Horch, a Berkeley law school graduate, sells earth-saving, consumer-friendly products, like compact fluorescent bulbs. Next to the bulbs, Efficiency Maine displays rebate coupons — also found at Lowe’s. (I have the good fortune to work with not only Efficiency Maine, but Rick Karg an energy consultant who trains the contractors in the Maine Home Performance program set up by Governor Baldacci.) Maine Interfaith Power & Light sells green tags. Independence BioFuel sells BioHeat heating oil and biodiesel fuel.

Maine is home to Heather Chandler’s SunriseGuide, a compilation of information and resources, coupled with coupons, to support a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. Dwell Creative, an advertising and public relations group out of Portland, Maine, designed the Guide.

Gotta love this publication and its creators; the Guide and the website are beautiful, easy to read and navigate. Dwell shouts: “Don’t $#!* where you dwell. We make a living in an already deceitful industry. Let’s not junk it up any further with meaningless messages promoting consumption as a way of life. And pick up after yourself too.”)

TC Hazzard, my second cousin and an attorney in Biddeford, Maine, is getting closer to zero and perhaps closer to certification as a Maine Home Performance contractor — which is how we came to know one another. TC forwarded to me the McKinsey Global Institute’s November report on the microeconomics of energy productivity. So alongside the Guide, I read McKinsey:

“An end-use perspective shows that consumers drive more than half the global energy demand. After allocating power-sector-energy consumption and losses to end-use sectors, we show that 50 percent of total energy demand and 60 percent of developed world demand currently comes from sectors with the key characteristics of consumer goods—residential (25 percent of total demand); road transport (16 percent); commercial (10 percent); and air transport (2 percent).”

After the sun sets – at the unholy hour of 4pm – I stave off depression and the bottle with a brisk walk with the dog around the shops in Freeport, Maine, the home of LL Bean. LL Bean is said to incorporate biodiesel and propane fuel into company vehicles – to reduce truck emissions. In Freeport, McDonald’s and Friendly’s hide in old colonials. Sasha, the dog, ecstatically sniffs for places to lift her leg (yes, she lifts). More soberly, I peer into the windows of J Crew, Reebock, Coach, Banana Republic and confirm that I have already purchased these sweaters and purses and belts (at least once already) in my life. It’s not so much that I don’t need more; I don’t want more stuff, Black Friday be damned.

Sasha dog and I order Mo Po Dofu from China Rose on the main drag in Freeport. My fortune cookie says, “You are going to have some new clothes.”

Other goings on this week:
When his all-purpose-van was stolen in Manhattan, what was an energy guy to do? Buy a replacement hybrid of course!

Best Places to Work for Commuters

Whether you prefer to live in a thriving city or a quiet town, the right job can save you hundreds of commute hours and thousands of dollars. Working near where you live is good for your health and good for the environment. Better jobs are a reason that hundreds of millions have moved to cities. Cities are the headquarters for many service industries and government.
Manufacturing, energy and agricultural jobs are often located away from cities. Top employers in these fields establish comprehensive programs for commuters. More than 1,800 U.S. employers nationwide have joined the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Best Workplaces for Commuters(sm), a program which offers telework best practices, subsidized transit, vanpool passes, and car pooling to more than 3 million employees. Recent EPA survey data show that when offered high-quality commuter benefits, employees are 20% more likely to ride together. Each year, awards are given for the 20 Best Workplaces for Commuters from the Fortune 500 Companies.
Best Workplaces

Nike has long sponsored friendly competition. TRAC is not a sponsored track meet; it is Nike sponsored competition for its employees to get to work without using gasoline or diesel. TRAC (Traveling Responsibly – Accept the Challenge) offers monthly prizes and incentives to employees at its world headquarters in the forested suburbs near Portland, Oregon. Nike encourages using public transportation by offering annual public transportation passes from TriMet for $20. Nike offers a shuttle system to public transportation and other Nike locations.
TRAC is staffed by a full-time employee transportation coordinator. The internal TRAC website offers tips and resources about public transportation, biking routes, and finding others for a carpool. Employees go to the TRAC website each week and post the alternative commutes they took for the week. 40 prizes are awarded monthly.
Since the program began in 1992, it has reduced the company’s average drive-alone rate from 98% to 84%. In fiscal year 2006, based on an average round trip of 17.8 miles, Nike employees saved approximately 719,343 vehicle miles traveled by using alternative commute modes. Employees saved 35,967 gallons of gasoline.
Greenbiz Article

Another winner was my former employer Sun Microsystems. Sun is famous for creating Java and “the network is the computer.” Sun effectively uses its own networking technology with an iWork program that enables employees to work at home, at an office near their home, or be highly productive anywhere with a mobile device and wireless network connection. At home, or at a convenient Sun office, employees swipe their smart security card and their entire work environment is displayed at the temporary workstation. Employees don’t worry about carrying laptops, gigabytes of disk, or boxes of paper files.
Sun’s commute programs have eliminated more than 3,000 tons of CO2 emissions and have saved employees hundreds of thousands of hours that otherwise would have been wasted in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Sun employees also use SMART (Sun Microsystems Alternative Resources for Transportation) programs and services which give up-to-date commuter information, incentives for taking transit, biking and walking to work as well as shuttle rides to better utilize public transportation options near Sun campuses.

Moving people and goods impacts the bottom line of every business. The U.S. government estimates that congestion created from commuting to and from work causes 3.7 billion hours of lost productivity, costing employees 92 million work weeks, and the nation $63 billion in wasted time and fuel. People stuck in traffic breathe harmful emissions such as particulates that damage lungs, nitrous oxide and carbon monoxide. Health costs are potentially in the billions. Employers sometimes save millions in avoided cost for parking structures, as parking costs $600 to $2,400 per vehicle. Some employers pay more for parking structures than they pay for health care insurance programs. Part-time telework results in millions of added work hours that replace traffic gridlock hours. Rideshare gives employees a competitive edge in attracting and keeping good people.
Help your organization be one of the Best Workplaces for Commuters (or join one).

John Addison is the author of the upcoming book Save Gas, Save the Planet. He publishes the Clean Fleet Report ( and is a popular speaker.

Australian Cleantech State profile: Victoria

The Cleantech Industry is continuing to grow around Australia with a large number of cleantech companies being established particularly in the states of Victoria (Melbourne) and New South Wales (Sydney).

Victoria has around 80 companies identified by Clean Technology AustralAsia across a range of industries, and is quickly establishing itself as a focal centre for the cleantech investment industry in Australia. The recently re-elected Victorian government has promised to increase renewable energy target to 20% by 2020 and Invest Victoria have been key supporters of the Annual Cleantech Finance & Investment Forums in Melbourne.

Threes a few standout companies in the Victoria company mix which I thought I would highlight some of their latest news, These include Ceramic Fuel Cells, Pacific Hydro, Active Reactor, and TAG technology.

Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd – a solid oxide gas fuel cell technology – research, development & manufacturing organisation.

As with many successful Australian cleantech companies, overseas markets are the key for their financial success and growth, and Ceramic fuel cells is no exception. Over the last number of years its has been steadily expanding its operations into attractive European markets. Below I’ve captured some of the recent comments from the Chairman’s Address at the recent company AGM in late November.

“There are significant opportunities in the Company’s target market of micro CHP units and other distributed power generators. For instance, in Western Europe alone more than 6 million gas hot water units are sold each year; many of these could be replaced by CHP units. Securing even a small share of this market would generate significant revenue for the Company.”

“European governments are helping this market to develop. Earlier this year the UK Government allocated £50 million to help develop microgeneration technologies. The Government also released a report forecasting that microgeneration could provide 30-40% of the UK’s electricity needs by 2050. In Germany, a National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Innovation Program was launched in May, with extra funding of €500m over 10 years. “

“The most significant technical development was the announcement in September that the Company had developed the next generation of its fuel cell technology, a ‘thin film’ fuel cell. These new cells are more than twice as powerful as the prior cells (in terms of power density, that is electricity generated per square centimetre of fuel cell), more efficient, and produce less heat for the same amount of power. This development is the result of an ongoing project over the past few years to improve power density by leveraging off the Company’s broad IP and past developments. “

“The Company has also re-designed the components that integrate the fuel cell stack into a CHP unit, to create a “fuel cell module”, which needs 75 percent less air, has 50 percent less heat loss and has a 60 percent smaller burner. “ source

Pacific Hydro – Develops renewable energy projects around the world, Project Developer

Pacific Hydro is one of the most well known cleantech companies in Australia, having created significant share earnings for its early investors prior to being bought wholly by Australian Superannuation Company Industry Funds Management.

Recent news from Pacific Hydro includes the establishment of their north American presence, in the listed Canadian wind development company Western Wind Energy (TSXV: WND). From their website:

“With 159.5MW of Power Purchase Agreements in place and significantly more potential wind farm developments across Canada and the United States in the pipeline, Western Wind Energy is set to become a key joint venture partner for Pacific Hydro.

We have established an office in North America to grow this relationship and explore other joint venture and renewable energy opportunities in wind, hydro and geothermal in the US and Canada.

The deal includes an agreement to pursue joint venture opportunities with Western Wind Energy in several regions across North America.

Based in Mohave County, Arizona, this 15MW development will be the first project in the partnership between Western Wind Energy and Pacific Hydro. The first wind farm ever to be built in Arizona, Steel Park will comprise fifteen Mitsubishi 1MW turbines and is expected to commence construction in mid 2006, with commercial operations beginning in early 2007.” source

Active Reactor – Electronically controlled magnetic ballast for high pressure sodium and metal halide lamps – Research & Development

This is one company to watch. The technology can create savings on street lighting energy use of 20-30%, amongst other product lifetime benefits, and are currently small scale trialling the technology on streetlights it a Melbourne suburb.

“ The Active Reactor Company has developed a controller that regulates the power to the lamp to minimise energy use, extend lamp life and reduce maintenance costs. The lamp controller also maintains the correct light levels for the life of the lamp. Active Reactor will work with the City of Whitehorse to will retrofit 12 X 250 W high pressure sodium lamps and luminaries along 1km of lighting in Canterbury Rd, Blackburn. Monitoring of the power controllers will determine the effectiveness and power saving potential of this new technology.” source

TAG Technology – Thermally active granule additive to control heat flow, Research, Development and Licensing

Another exceptional technology that has very broad applications for heat control in buildings both domestic, commercial and industrial applications such as refrigeration storage.

The technology works by controlling the flow of heat in one direction only on surfaces that are treated with paint containing the additive. To control heat entering the building you paint the outside of the building, and still allow heat to pass from inside the building to its surroundings. If you need to keep heat inside the building, paint the inside of the building.

Nick Bruse is the General Manager of Clean Technology AustralAsia Pty Ltd; the organiser of the AustralAsian Cleantech Forums, and the leading advocate of Cleantech in Australia.

New Congress, new dawn for batteries?

Spending a week in Washington DC can certainly change one’s perspective on things. I had gone at the end of November essentially to look at the technical side of the Electric Drive Transportation Association’s meeting— batteries — but what I saw was an amazing snapshot of how US-style democracy really does work and how not just one but two grass roots movements can actually change things.
The first grass roots movement I saw in action prevented a fairly odious book being published by one of the world’s most powerful media organisations— a powerful reaction to US public opinion and that’s been seen around the world— you all know what I’m talking about and this was all rather second hand for me through Larry King— he’s not on TV in the UK.
The second has received little attention in media beyond the USA and that is the so called Plug-in Partners—the lobbying group that started back in August 2005 by a municipal power utility in Austin, Texas, with the sole aim of getting car makers to take the plug-in hybrid car seriously. One way of doing that was to create soft orders— intentions to buy if the product was there and the lobbying campaign, which has signed up 50 major cities and many businesses in the US, has generated a potential 9,000 orders.

Interest in plug-ins has, I think, been mixed until recently. Back in the spring, Toyota’s David Hermance, the great communicator for the Prius, who was sadly killed in a plane crash last week, was definitely against…. As making a Prius do significant all electric range on the batteries it had would have produced a string of warranty claims. He put the company first.
But over the last few months, a succession of car makers have given their support to building such hybrids and on the very start of the EDTA congress, GM announced its intention to have a version of its Saturn VUE hybrid as a plug-in — due for launch in 2010.
This people-led movement has captured the spirit of the times — concerns about the rocketing cost of gasoline, fears about security and a desire to be free of a dependence on foreign oil—a metaphor for many things. In the UK, you just don’t get these opportunities.
It caught the imagination of George Bush too, but too late to make any impact for the Republicans in the 2006 elections. No matter; Democrats with beaming smiles told the EDTA conference that change would happen and the Freedom Car Initiative, to date heavily biased in the fuel cell direction, will receive a significant course correction with a major emphasis on batteries. The utility players love it too. They can sell their under utilised base load (20,000 MW in California alone) to customers who have a power outlet in their home garage. And that’s what it’s all about, the powers that be have woken up to the fact the PHEV is a very achievable goal, helping the USA on a number of fronts and pleasing both “tree huggers” and industrialists— quite an achievement!
But we have to get the batteries right. By this time next year, money should be charging up the battery industry — in every chemistry.
Gerry Woolf has worked as a science and technology writer for (wait for it) – 25 years and is Editor and publisher of BEST (Batteries and Energy Storage Technology) Magazine. BEST is an international journal launched in 2003 and the leading publication covering battery and electrochemical power. It is available on line and in hard copy form on subscription only. How we get the batteries right and whose doing what to get them right is at the heart of BEST magazine, published quarterly from the UK. To find out more go to

Profile in Gluttony

This past week, the consulting firm CERA released a report providing a snapshot of the ongoing American love affair with the automobile.

Gasoline and the American People

The highlights of the report would almost be amusing if they weren’t so frightening in its portrayal of a culture that is blindly yet deeply addicted to a modality that is both unsustainable and hollow.

For instance, in America, there is now 1.15 vehicles per registered driver. That’s right, every driver has at least one car. In China, the ratio is 1 car per hundred drivers.

Relative to 25 years ago, the average American is driving 40% more miles. Where are we going? The country isn’t getting any bigger.

Another example: even though gasoline prices in the U.S. rose from $1.59 per gallon in 2003 to $2.30 per gallon in 2005 and $2.61 per gallon the first 11 months of 2006, U.S. gasoline demand didn’t even decline, but in fact rose by 0.3% in 2005 and 1.0% in 2006. In other words, a 60% increase in prices only caused demand growth rates to be halved from the recent annual average of 1.6%. Talk about inelastic demand!

Even with these major increases in gasoline prices, SUVs continue to hold appeal — still representing more than 50% of all new vehicle sales in the U.S. True, smaller SUVs are gaining share at the expense of the real hogs (i.e., Hummers), but the trend away from cars to SUVs means that fuel efficiency of the average new vehicle in the U.S. has remained virtually flat since 1990 at between 19-20 mpg — despite the major technological improvements that have occurred since then. Alas, all these improvements have been oriented towards comfort/convenience and horsepower. Notwithstanding the hype and growth, hybrids still remain a tiny niche, at about 1.4% of the new vehicle market.

Back in the mid-1960’s, NBC aired a wholly forgettable TV sitcom called My Mother the Car. If the show were made today, maybe it would have to be be titled My Ego the Car.

SuperPower Makes Record Superconducting Wires

SuperPower, which is developing High Temperature Superconducting (HTS) wires and HTS devices for the electric power industry, has made extraordinary progress in the last few months on its high power-density, ultra energy-efficient wires. The company surpassed its previous record for a long length second generation (2G) HTS wire by 100m, producing a 427 meter (1,400 feet) long piece of wire. The current carrying capacity (Ic) of the wire is 191 amps per centimeter, meaning that two wires just 1cm wide by about 0.05 mm thick (the wires are tape-shaped) can carry as much current as a copper cable thicker than a man’s thumb.

The new long length achievement is exciting news for the many industries watching the HTS industry, including CleanTech, and illustrates SuperPower’s progress in 2G wire manufacture, with its first 1m production run in 2002 to its 427m wire today.

This progress is noteworthy for a few reasons. These high power densities are hoped to enable a next generation of ultra efficient power distribution cables, motors, generators, and a host of other devices that would make the electrical grids more efficient and effective. Until now, the question for superconducting wires, which carry electricity with zero or very little losses and can transmit hundreds of times the amount of electrical current as conventional copper wires, has not been whether or not they are useful, but whether than can ever be made at all. At 427 meters, SuperPower has shown that HTS wires can be produced in relatively long lengths, and it is not absurd to envision that the company will soon be manufacturing 1000 meter lengths.

The other major question for HTS has been whether wires can be produced to the high standards of performance, reliability, and repeatability necessary for commercialization. Making a wire once is an important technical achievement, but it essentially irrelevant from the standpoint of commercialization, where massive economies of scale are required to bring costs into alignment with what potential customers might be willing to pay. SuperPower has demonstrated progress in the area of repeatability as well. SuperPower will soon make delivery of 10,000m of 2G to Sumitomo for use in the Phase II of a major HTS cable demonstration project in Albany, NY. Venkat Selvamanickam, Program Manager, Materials Technology at SuperPower, said, “We can now routinely make 4mm wide 2G conductors with an Ic of 100A in lengths over 270m.”

In addition to length, performance and manufacturability improvements, SuperPower’s achievement has scored a strategic victory of sorts. Within the superconductor industry there are two major camps: those developing first generation (1G) wire and those developing 2G wire. The advantage of 1G is that it has proven to be relatively easy to manufacture, and can now be purchased in virtually any quantity needed from a number of suppliers in the U.S., Europe and Japan, including American Superconductor, Trithor, European High Temperature Superconductors, and Sumitomo Electric Industries.

2G, a far less mature technology, hopes to compete with 1G. Many believe 2G may ultimately offer advantages over 1G such as lower cost, higher currents (SuperPower has also produced a 7cm long conductor with an impressively high Ic of 721A/cm), optimized performance for applications such as motors, magnets, and fault current limiters. Selvamanickam believes 2G has at last equaled or surpassed 1G: “2G conductor is now available in long lengths, with Ic in the realm of 1G.”

At the Applied Superconductivity Conference in Seattle last summer, the mood among HTS wires developers seemed to be more upbeat than in past years. Nonetheless, revolutionizing electric power use with HTS wires will still take time, money, and luck. SuperPower and its competitors must continue to fund development of a technology that has taken years, perhaps ultimately even decades, longer to develop than originally anticipated.

Underscoring these challenges is the fate of SuperPower as a company. SuperPower’s parent company, Intermagnetics General, has been trying to find a way to shed SuperPower for some time now. Now, Philips Medical Systems has acquired Intermagnetics, further obscuring SuperPower’s future. On announcing the plans for the now-completed acquisition, Intermagnetics President & CEO, Glenn H. Epstein, told me that he intended to oversee personally the divestiture of SuperPower. With SuperPower enjoying a leadership role in HTS worldwide, let us hope Epstein is able to translate some of this excitement into a bright future for SuperPower.

Mark Bitterman, Executive Editor, Superconductor Week

A Conversation with Ambassador Sklar on Solar in San Francisco

This week I had an opportunity to have a conversation with Ambassador Richard Sklar, the President of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, on renewables and solar power in San Francisco. This is his second stint at the SF PUC, and besides a time in politics, Ambassador Sklar has served as an executive in and advisor to private manufacturing and engineering firms. I had met him and several of the top SF PUC team at Solar 2006 in San Jose, and had been extremely impressed with the SF PUC, both in their commitment of senior people to a solar initiative, and the diligence with which they were approaching the issues. So I was certainly curious to hear what he had to say.

For those of you that do not know, the SF PUC is the San Francisco owned power, water, and sewage provider for much of the municipal facilities in San Francisco.

From their website: “The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is a department of the City and County of San Francisco that provides water, wastewater, and municipal power services to San Francisco. Under contractual agreement with 28 wholesale water agencies, the SFPUC also supplies water to 1.6 million additional customers within three Bay Area counties. The SFPUC system provides four distinct services: Regional Water, Local Water, Wastewater (collection, treatment and disposal), and Power. “

I asked Ambassador Sklar about the SF PUC sustainability plan, found here, and what that meant for San Francisco power.

He asked me to consider that the SF PUC does 3 things – supplies water, cleans dirty water, and supplies power to San Francisco. As far as sustainability? According to Ambassador Sklar, San Francisco makes a concerted attempt to do the job with no more harm than necessary, and to be as clean as possible while doing it. After all, this is San Francisco.

On the power side, the SF PUC definitely thinks sustainable and green, and if Ambassador Sklar and his team are any indication, very, very big. They actually have established a network of solar monitoring stations around the city to measure our solar resource. Their primary source of power is the Hetch Hetchy hydroelectic power system. The SFPUC also owns a number of photovoltaic solar installations around the city, the largest of these is the marquee 675 kW system on Moscone Center. They also have 255 kW of solar and operate a waste gas cogen facility at the Southeast Waste Water Treatment Plant, and have a 283 kW solar project going in at Pier 96.

Ambassador Sklar shared that they are expecting to shortly launch solicitations to buy solar power from private producers (unlike private parties, the SF PUC has been unable to take advantage of state and federal rebates and tax incentives) – which is quite exciting, and like Moscone Center will be a marquee event for solar in California.

I did ask about the Moscone Center project, after all solar is not exactly a low cost resource, and 675 kW is not much of a power plant to get excited about in the grand scheme of things. But it seems the SF PUC certainly understands this, and is thinking much longer term. Ambassador Sklar was quick to answer that Moscone Center is just a demonstration project – nothing more, simply a first step in turning San Francisco power greener. The quote I liked, “we’ll be serious about solar in San Francisco when we cover the airport and all of our reservoirs in solar cells.” According to Ambassador Sklar the Moscone Center and other solar PV installations are just toys, demonstrations to say, in San Francisco we believe in green power, and we’re here to stay in solar, so pay attention. That being said, they are also serious about delivering economic power to our city, and have no intention of igorning the cost side of solar – hence the intensive efforts by the SF PUC team in demonstration projects and analysis to understand what it will cost before they make a big plunge.

[I do find it mildly humorous that while the SF PUC may understand that their solar install is just a demonstration – the solar industry considered the Moscone RFP the biggest thing to hit it in years. Obviously the industry still has a lot of maturing to do.]

We also had a chance to talk about what the end game might be for San Francisco solar and renewable power – where exactly this first step was taking us. I have to say, these guys have much bigger ideas longer term; they are not sitting still. Throughout the discussion Ambassador Sklar described his vision of green power in San Francisco, and I left the meeting thinking seriously about the series of “What ifs” that he posed in our conversation?

  • What if we mandated that every new building in San Francisco must include solar panels?
  • What if we cover the aiport and our physical city owned infrastructure in solar panels?
  • What if we build our own wind farms in Northern California, and expand Hetch Hetchy hydro power?
  • What if we do put tidal power under the Golden Gate (San Francisco already announced in September that it is going to explore tidal power potential under the Golden Gate).
  • What if we just make ourselves go green?

But I’m not sure that Richard Sklar and San Francisco consider these to be “what-ifs”, but more like “whens”. They’ve got millions invested into green power already, and show no signs of stopping.

Note: If you want to hear it for yourself, Ambassador Sklar is scheduled to speak at the upcoming GreenVest 2007 Conference in San Francisco.

By Neal Dikeman, Partner, Jane Capital Partners LLC, Founding Contributor,, and Contributing Editor,