Cleantech & Resource Efficiency News Roundup: Utilities Love Community Solar, Says CEO

UN Panel: irreversible damage from climate change

According to a leaked draft of a report by a UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, due out in November, unless action is taken to limit emissions from fossil fuels, humans will cause irreversible damage to the planet. Furthermore, pollution from heat-trapping gases will raise the likelihood of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems,” the report noted. Read more.

Clean energy and resource efficiency project finance fund raises $13.4M

Farmington, MA-based Clean Feet Investors, founded in 2010 and managed by Zahren Financial, funds renewable energy and conservation projects. It raised $13.4 million on Aug. 25, according to an SEC filing.

The fund’s investments include Brightfarms (hydroponic greenhouses), Skyline Innovations (solar thermal financing), Solar Grid Storage (battery storage/PV systems), SolSystems (solar financing), and Stem (battery storage systems).

Jigar Shah, the founder of SunEdison, is listed as a “special manager” of Clean Feet and was a partner of the fund from August 2010 through December 2013.

New community solar facility opens in Mass., utilities “love solar,” says CEO

Community-owned solar project developer Clean Energy Collective opened a new 1MW utility-scale community-shared solar facility at Rehoboth, Mass.-based Southeastern Massachusetts Community Solar Array, on Aug 21. It expects to open a “string of new CEC community solar facilities” in Massachusetts in the near future, the company said. It’s targeting the “niche” market demand of around 2GW/year (a $1B market) by residential and corporate customers that can’t install solar panels at their sites, said CEO Paul Spencer.

The company is currently raising a Series B funding round and attracting project finance capital from strategic investors, says Spencer. The company has facilities in 9 different states with 20 different utilities totaling 30MW of facilities. It also has $100 million worth of projects in development that will generate $50 million in sales this year, according to Spencer. Do utilities love solar?  Yes, says the CEO, in a response to that question during a recent conference. He added that he is in discussions with 150 utilities across the country considering community solar solutions.

Geothermal gets a boost with funding and new tech

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is currently researching ways to increase the geothermal industry’s revenue potential through the extraction of rare earth minerals. And Seattle-based startup AltaRock is testing new drilling techniques that could increase geothermal plant productivity.

Earlier this month, the U.S. DOE gave $18 million to 32 new geothermal energy projects. This brings the agency’s total geothermal portfolio to 150 projects (see our story on geothermal’s game-changing technologies currently supported by the U.S. DOE.) And Forbes published a story this week highlighting a study by MIT that outlines the benefits of geothermal energy versus other renewable energies, including its cost effectiveness, ability to provide power around the clock, and relatively limited use of land space.

Big food corporate hungry for startup Hampton Creek’s sustainable foods

Silicon Valley-based sustainable foods startup Hampton Creek is now supplying its line of egg-free cookies to the British food service behemoth Compass Group PLC, which last year served 4 billion meals at more than 50,000 venues worldwide, according to the Wall Street Journal. In February, Hampton Creek Foods raised $23 million in Series B funding from Horizons Ventures, with participation from Jerry Yang and AME Cloud Ventures, Ali and Hadi Partovi, Jessica Powell of Google, Scott Banister, and Ash Patel.

ABB announces breakthrough in underground power cable technology for offshore wind

This month, Zurich-based ABB recently introduced a new technology that can double the power capacity of underground cables to 2,600MW, making renewable energy installations more efficient and cheaper to integrate into the grid from distant offshore wind farms. It will also expand the cable’s reach to distances of 1,500 kilometers, up from less than 1,000 kilometers.

“This major technology breakthrough will change the feasibility of renewable energy projects and play a defining role in using underground and subsea high voltage cables to integrate renewables over long distances,” said Ulrich Spiesshofer, CEO of ABB.

ABB also recently installed its solar inverters connecting Malaysia’s largest solar plant, developed by Amcorp Power, to the country’s electrical grid. Read more.


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