Advancing Renewable Energy with the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory

The Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory announced this week that the Center for Revolutionary Solar Photoconversion (CRSP) has provided $800,000 of funding for 10 advanced solar research projects in Colorado.

Allocated to the four research institutions in Colorado that comprise the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory; Colorado State University, Colorado University-Boulder, Colorado School of Mines and the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratories, the funding was provided from CRSP corporate members and matching funds from the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory via the State of Colorado.

CRSP scientific director Craig Taylor stated that the advanced solar research “…underpins renewable energy technologies, commonly called third-generation solar photon conversion, for the highly efficient and cost-competitive production of both electricity and fuels via direct solar processes.”

CRSP has fourteen corporate members that include: Abengoa Solar PV, Applied Materials, Ascent Solar Technologies, DuPont, Evident Technologies, G24 Innovations, General Motors, Konarka, Lockheed Martin, Motech Industries, Sharp, Tokyo Electron, Toyota and ZettaSun.

The best part of this story is that the CRSP is just one of six Research Centers included in the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory.

The Collaboratory website defines this mission:

“-Create and speed the commercialization of renewable energy technologies, energy management systems, and energy efficiency

-Support economic growth in Colorado and the nation with renewable energy industries

-Educate our nation’s finest energy researchers, technicians, and workforce.”

The six research centers include:

Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels

Center for Revolutionary Solar Photoconversion

SolarTAC (Solar Technology Acceleration Center) – Research Partnership

Center for Research and Education in Wind (CREW)

Carbon Management Center

Energy Efficiency & Management Center

The Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory has successfully integrated four world-class research institutions with six cutting edge research centers and top corporate partners from around the world to create an exciting environment for the rapid advancement of renewable energy technologies.

Since its inception in 2007, the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory has collaborated on numerous renewable energy projects. From solar projects to convert sunshine into electricity and fuel to partnerships with corporate sponsors like ConocoPhillips who invested $5 million to research biorefining and biofuels, the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory is gaining momentum with each new project. Stay tuned for the results!

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For more information visit: http://www.coloradocollaboratory.org / http://www.coloradocollaboratory.org/crsp/index.html

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Rocky Mountain Winners of the Cleantech Open

As renewable energy and clean technology continues to percolate in the state of Colorado, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper recently announced the Rocky Mountain regional winners of the Cleantech Open. For those not familiar with the Cleantech Open, it is the world’s largest competition of cleantech companies vying for millions of dollars of cash awards, business development assistance and private funding.

CleantechOpen

The three finalists selected from the Rocky Mountain Region were each awarded $50,000 in cash and services. Two Colorado finalists include Boulder-based New Sky Energy and Golden-based SunTrac Solar. Headquartered in Missoula, Montana, Rivertop Renewables was the third finalist. Another company receiving accolades was Boulder-based Cool Energy accepting the Cleantech Open Sustainability Award.

The three finalists compete with finalists from two other regions, California and Pacific Northwest, in San Francisco on November 17th for a grand prize of $250,000 at the 2009 Cleantech Open Awards Gala. Dubbed the “Academy Awards of Cleantech”, the 2009 Cleantech Open Awards Gala showcases the most promising clean technology companies and features keynote speakers headlined by Google Green Energy Czar, Bill Weihl.

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For more information, visit the Cleantech Open website: http://www.cleantechopen.com

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Boulder, Colorado: SmartGridCity USA

SmartGridCity

Photo credit: SmartGridCity.XcelEnergy.com

September 2009 marked an incredible milestone in the world of smart grid technology with Xcel Energy’s completion of the world’s first SmartGridCity in Boulder, Colorado.

SmartGridCity is the high-tech evolution of our current electric grid which has changed little, in terms of technology, in the past 100 years. By combining state-of-the-art smart grid technology, SmartGridCity provides utilities and consumers real-time information about energy consumption resulting in numerous benefits for both.

This “smart” information is used by the utility to provide more reliable and stable power, avoid blackouts and conserve energy. This information is so smart that it has already identified SmartGridCity transformers in need of replacement BEFORE they malfunctioned. In the past, transformers were only replaced after they blew and the power went out.

Ultimately, the consumer utilizes “smart” information to consume less electricity and save money by active participation in energy consumption. Smart appliances allow the consumer further control via ability to program smart appliances (washer, dryer, dishwasher, etc.) to operate during non-peak electric hours when rates are lowest.

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Wireless devices and mobile applications, like Boulder-based Tendril Network’s Vantage Mobile, provide the ability for consumers to monitor and adjust electricity consumption from remote locations. Efficiency has never been this fun.

The $100 million SmartGridCity project created a wide range of jobs through infrastructure construction and the collaborative efforts of the following companies that comprise Xcel Energy’s Smart Grid Consortium:  AccentureCURRENT GroupGridPointOSIsoftSchweitzer Engineering LaboratoriesSmartSynch and Ventyx®.

Infrastructure construction alone included the installation of 15,800 smart meters, 200 miles of fiber optic cables, and 4,600 residential and business transformers.

Smart grid technologies enable utilities to combine and maximize energy generated from various renewable sources such as solar, wind, hydrothermal and geothermal.

Not only is smart grid technology exciting but the economic incentive is equally as attractive. Smart grid research estimates a savings potential of $48 billion for the 200 largest U.S. utilities.

SmartGridCity is also testing the ability to charge and store energy via Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV). PHEV’s conserve electricity by utilizing non-peak electricity to charge the vehicles’ battery. A PHEV can also provide energy storage and power for the grid during peak electricity demand. Boulder-based EEtrex completed the PHEV vehicle conversions and are conducting tests for PHEV interaction with the electric grid, homes, construction sites and emergency power.

In June, the Elephant Journal wrote a blog post, titled “Who’ll be the first Smart Grid City?“, about the quest to become the first smart grid city in the world and five U.S. cities leading the way. Boulder has answered that question with resounding intelligence (ie. “smarts”) and along the way earned the new moniker of “SmartGridCity U.S.A.”.

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Find out more about Xcel Energy’s SmartGridCity program: http://smartgridcity.xcelenergy.com/index.asp

and

EEtrex PHEV conversions: http://www.eetrex.com

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The LH4: Lightning Hybrids Strike with New Technology and Style

I love watching new technologies develop. Especially when it’s in my backyard. Based in Loveland, Colorado, Lightning Hybrids is working on some very cool stuff.

Take leading hydraulic technology and combine it with a bio-diesel engine and you get a cutting edge hybrid called the LH4.

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Sleek, sexy, and fun, this car brings it. If getting over 100 miles per gallon isn’t enough, how about 0-60 in 5.9 seconds. Pretty good for a hybrid. The LH4 is a 4-seat compact sports sedan propelled by 240 hp of bio-diesel and hydraulic power. Scheduled for release in 2010, the LH4 is the poster child for exciting new things to come. Lightning Hybrids also manufactures a three wheel version called the LH3.

Lightning strikes again! This time it’s electric. Lightning Hybrids is also developing a full electric vehicle (EV) and a bio-diesel plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). Plans for both vehicles include all the bells and whistles to appeal to a mass market and are being developed in conjunction with new 3D Cu2Sb Nano Technology battery research at Colorado State University. The all electric vehicle is slated to get a 100 mile range on a 15 minute battery charge. The bio-diesel plug-in hybrid electric vehicle will feature a 40 mile all-electric range with additional range and power provided by a 1.4 liter bio-diesel engine. The target base price for both vehicles is under $40,000.

Lightning Hybrids is applying for over $50 million in grants for research and development of these vehicles. If funding is received, Lightning Hybrids plans to manufacture the vehicles in Loveland and eventually provide over 300 clean-tech jobs. Lightning Hybrids is urging everyone to contact their local and state representatives and request that they support Lightning Hybrids proposal to reduce dependence on foreign oil, create American jobs and work towards a more sustainable future.

For more information about Lightning Hybrids, visit their website at: LightningHybrids.com

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Colorado Wind Energy Continues to Grow


COwindEnergyColorado is no stranger to wind. Just ask anyone who lives here. As renewable energy demand increases, the number of wind turbines in our state continue to grow.

Colorado currently boasts 1,068 MW of wind power installed as of January 2009.  In 1999, Colorado had 22 MW of wind installed wind power.  Over 10 years, our state has increased wind power by 1,046 MW. This increase brings Colorado to 8th place nationally, trailing Texas, California, Iowa, Minnesota, Washington, Oregon and New York.Wind_installed_capacity_currentWith leading wind energy research taking place at Colorado based U.S. Department of Energy agencies, NREL-National Renewable Energy Laboratories and NCAR-National Center for Atmospheric Research, Colorado stands at the forefront of wind energy technology development. Vestas Wind Systems is currently investing more than 1.5 billion in new wind power production facilities in Colorado. Vestas’ only US based wind turbine blade manufacturing facility is located in Windsor. Vestas also operates two wind energy manufacturing facilities located in Brighton and are currently building the world’s largest wind tower manufacturing plant in Pueblo.

Other leading wind energy companies with facilities located in Colorado are RESRenewable Energy Systems Americas Inc., Clipper Windpower and Siemens USA. Formerly based in Austin, TX, Renewable Energy Systems, relocated to Broomfield in 2008. Clipper Windpower has a regional office in Denver and Seimens USA has a new wind turbine research and development center located in Boulder.

For information on small wind energy systems, visit the Colorado alternative energy enthusiasts at OtherPower.com. Dan Bartmann and Dan Fink recently finished a new book entitled, Homebrew Wind Power “A Hands-on Guide to Harnessing the Wind”, that is available through their website.  OtherPower.com also offers wind turbine construction seminars for those interested in building their own wind turbine and tower.

With an eco-friendly Governor and President in office, Colorado wind energy blows strong and profitable!

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Visit the the U.S. Department of Energy “Wind Powering America” web site for more information regarding wind energy.

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Electric Vehicles in the Mountains?

vailpassIn Colorado, we love to drive in the mountains. We love vehicles that have the power to race over the Divide, launch through the Eisenhower Tunnel and pass other lollygaggers while driving up steep grades. Maybe it’s just Americans in general but we are an independent lot.

So when people think of driving an electric vehicle (EV) in the mountains, they tend to think of tiny underpowered cars driving in the slow lane trying to make it over the Pass while the rest of the world races by. Possibly visions of running out of battery power stranded in the middle of nowhere.

In reality, the technology already exists to provide reliable, powerful, clean, electric power for vehicles. The technology is not new but due to many factors it has for many years been ignored.

current-home-adThere are several companies in Colorado advancing EV technology and providing practical real world solutions. Electric City Motors, located in Parker, Colorado, is the brainchild of S.T. Tripathi. A belief in creating an affordable, low emission, highway approved vehicle led S.T. to design and manufacture his own Electric Vehicle. What the Big 3 could not accomplish, S.T. not only accomplished but has built a thriving business around.

Electric City Motors produces a four door, highway rated, all electric vehicle dubbed the “The Current“. The Current features an all electric, zero emission motor capable of 70-75 mph on the highway with a range of  55-75 miles. Not lacking in power, S. T. claims that you will think there is a V8 under the hood.

Electric City Motors assembles the cars in Parker while the body and frame are molded in China. All of the remaining components are built in the U.S. with the drive trains also built in Parker. Not bad for under $30,000. Especially when you add in the $7,500 worth of tax credits.

Even more exciting is the all electric products_elec_pu_suvSUV and Pick-Up that the Electric City Motors website boasts as “coming soon”. Both feature 100-125 mile battery range and optional 4-wheel drive. And if all of this wasn’t enough, any vehicle can be upgraded to include a long range CNT-Battery that will take you up to 400 miles on a 5-10 minute charge!  Sign me up please!!

Another company in Colorado making valuable contributions to the world of electric vehicles is Boulder based Hybrids Plus. Founded by Carl Lawrence, a 20+ year EV veteran who has completed numerous gas to electric vehicle conversions, Prius Plus adds a conversion to the Toyota Prius and Ford Escape Hybrids. The conversion includes replacing the batteries with lithium ion batteries, adding the ability to plug in to an electrical outlet to recharge the batteries and “Charge Control” (V2G or Smart Charge) which monitors the vehicle when driving or plugged in.

plug-in-prius-610While not entirely electric, the Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) also features an internal combustion engine to charge the batteries when running low and add power for speeds over 35. The PHEV has many advantages in addition to boosting mileage to 90 mpg on the highway and 120 mpg in the city on the Prius.

The Prius Plus website explains that Charge Control “information is available over the Internet to the vehicle owner, for the purpose of tracking and optimizing the performance of the vehicle. With Smart Charge, power only flows from the grid to the car, while in V2G power can flow in either direction.

These Charge Control technologies will also allow an electric utility company to control a PHEV’s charging or discharging in real time, to postpone PHEV charging during time of peak demand, store energy during times of excess capacity or maximum wind and solar production, or to buy back energy from a PHEV’s battery as needed for load leveling or grid stabilization.” Pretty cool stuff!

If you are thinking of converting your existing internal combustion engine vehicle to electric, check out the Yellow Line Institute. The Yellow Line Institute is a non-yliprofit organization out of Golden working to promote the conversion of gasoline powered vehicles to electric.

Check out their website by clicking the image to the left and become a part of the EV discussion. Liz Brown, the executive director of the Yellow Line Institute, recently spoke at the Highland City Club in Boulder about electric vehicle conversion and the future of electric cars. Liz also presented Pete Hansen from Colorado’s Evolve It Motors who discussed ongoing electric vehicle conversion projects and their recent EV conversion of a Porsche 914.

If you are interested in Electric Motorcycles, Bicycles, Skateboards and Scooters, check out Colorado’s Mountain Utility Electric Vehicles. Owner and founder, John Eisler, can bring you up to date with all the latest products, innovations and technology when it comes to these fun and efficient Light Electric Vehicles.

Apparently there is no excuse to NOT be driving electric vehicles in the mountains.  Drive on!

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The Sun is Shining and the Weather is Sweet

The sun is shining on Colorado and the climate for renewable energy is definitely sweet. As a state fortunate to be home to leading solar energy research, I am still amazed by the new developments in solar technology taking place in our great state every day.

Northern Colorado has created a Shangri-La for renewable energy activity. The Fort Collins Zero Energy District, dubbed “FortZED“, is a combination of leading clean tech companies, research at CSU and renewable energy generation tied into a smart grid system. FortZED is located in downtown Fort Collins and includes Colorado Sate University.

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Leading clean tech companies involved in FortZED are the Northern Colorado Clean Energy Cluster, Advanced Energy, The Brendle Group, Integrid Laboratories, Spirae, Inc., and the Woodward Governor Company. Research that originally began at Colorado State University in the late 80’s laid the foundation for Abound Solar which recently opened full scale manufacturing facilities in Longmont. Abound Solar’s cad tel (cadmium-telluride) technology is designed for large scale applications such as solar farms and utility projects.

Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) technology is being propelled in Colordado by cutting edge companies like Ascent Solar and SolarFrameWorks. Ascent Solar recently opened a new manufacturing facility in Thornton utlizing CIGS (copper indium gallium selenide) thin film technology. As one of the first large production facilities using CIGS technology, Ascent Solar will incorporate CIGS technology into building materials for the BIPV market. SolarFrameWorks, a unique manufacturer and distributor of solar products located in Golden, recently announced their newest offering to the BIPV marketplace. BIPV CoolPly is a single-ply membrane designed and engineered to match specific building design that features cool & reliable performance, high wind resistance and zero roof penetration.

Colorado is also leading the way for development of Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) technology. CSP technology is currently being developed in Arvada by SkyFuel and ReflecTech. The result is SkyFuel’s cutting edge parabolic-shaped concentrating collector called the SkyTrough™.

SkyFuel SkyTrough™

SkyFuel SkyTrough™

In July 2009, R&D Magazine selected the SkyFuel SkyTrough as “…one of the 100 most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace over the past year.”  The SkyFuel SkyTrough provides a low cost system for utility-size power generation. Many of these technologies are developed in conjunction with NREL, the National Renewable Energy Laboratories, located in Golden, Colorado.

From German based Wirsol Solar to Denmark based Vestas, renewable energy companies from around the world are flocking to Colorado to be a part of the new green economy. The companies mentioned in this blog are just a few of the many renewable energy companies located in Colorado that are innovating and propelling renewable energy technology into the future. Stay tuned as there is so much more to come!

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Coal Cradled in Green

GreenMarket Consulting is located at 8,260′ in the Rocky Mountains. Situated in Coal Creek Canyon, West of Boulder and Golden, Colorado, GreenMarket Consulting is surrounded by both coal and renewable energy industries. Like the head and tail of a snake, these two energy resources represent the past and the future.

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The rail line that carries countless rail cars filled with coal every day past Coal Creek Canyon ironically passes directly between the National Renewable Energy Laboratories and the SkyFuel office that boasts their parabolic solar SkyTrough.

It is here in this paradox that the budding green economy takes shape.

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