een wereldwijd elektriciteitsnet een oplossing voor veel problemen  GENI es una institución de investigación y educación-enfocada en la interconexión de rejillas de electricidad entre naciones.  ??????. ????????????????????????????????????  nous proposons la construction d’un réseau électrique reliant pays et continents basé sur les ressources renouvelables  Unser Planet ist mit einem enormen Potential an erneuerbaren Energiequellen - Da es heutzutage m` glich ist, Strom wirtschaftlich , können diese regenerativen Energiequellen einige der konventionellen betriebenen Kraftwerke ersetzen.  한국어/Korean  utilizando transmissores de alta potência em áreas remotas, e mudar a força via linha de transmissões de alta-voltagem, podemos alcançar 7000 quilómetros, conectando nações e continentes    
What's Geni? Endorsements Global Issues Library Policy Projects Support GENI
Add news to your site >>

About Us

Department of Energy Pours Funds into Cleantech Industry

Dec 08, 2010 - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News - Energy Central

When Congress passed the landmark stimulus bill in 2009, more than $90 billion was targeted at clean energy -- the largest investment of federal dollars in the energy sector ever. Nearly $3 billion was awarded to the Bay Area from the Department of Energy alone.

The infusion of money came at a critical juncture, filling a void when the global financial crisis and U.S. recession made other sources of funding hard to come by.

The money ranged from a $1.37 billion loan guarantee for Oakland-based BrightSource Energy, which broke ground on its Ivanpah solar power plant in California's Mojave desert last month, to manufacturing tax credits and dozens of direct grants to local cleantech companies, universities, labs and cities. San Jose will use stimulus funds to replace 1,500 streetlights with energy-efficient and programmable LED lights.

"Without a doubt, this is probably one of the clearest successes of the Obama administration," said Steve Westly, a venture capitalist who invests in several cleantech companies. "In the middle of the recession it was hard for companies to get credit, and the DOE stepped in at the right time. It was stunningly smart, and the private sector followed in massive ways."

While the Department of Energy used stimulus dollars to fund mundane projects such as appliance rebates and weatherization assistance, it is also funneling money into fast-evolving cleantech industries, from electric vehicle battery and component

manufacturing plants to advanced biofuels. The Recovery Act earmarks $4.5 billion to modernize the electric grid, $2.4 billion for carbon capture and storage, $2 billion for science research and $1.6 billion for renewables like biomass, solar and wind -- emerging sectors with a lot of Silicon Valley players.

"One of the big things we want to do is re-establish cleantech manufacturing," said Matt Rogers, a Piedmont resident and McKinsey consultant who managed the DOE's Recovery Act dollars. "We are not a substitute for, but a complement to, the venture capital community, and it's a very competitive process."

Competitive is an understatement. The department received more than 30,000 requests for funding, 80 percent of which were rejected. Several Silicon Valley cleantech companies hired consultants, often at considerable expense, to polish their applications, which usually required a "narrative" describing the company's technology, leadership team and business model as well as technical documents. Some applications ran more than 2,000 pages; some consultants commanded fees above half a million dollars.

The DOE's disbursement of Recovery Act funds has its critics. In September, Sen. Dianne Feinstein sent Energy Secretary Steven Chu a letter questioning why California, which has 12 percent of the nation's population, received only 6.6 percent of the money the department had available from the stimulus bill.

In Silicon Valley, much of the grumbling has centered on the lack of speed. The Energy Department is not designed to handle requests for loans and grants quickly, and many have urged the department to streamline the process.

"If there is a concern, it's that the DOE is not currently set up to operate at the speed of business, particularly the technology business," said Carl Guardino, president of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. "When you take 18 to 24 months, that's three to four business cycles in Silicon Valley."

Coulomb Technologies, a Campbell start-up that makes charging stations for electric vehicles, first applied for an Energy Department grant in May 2009. Months passed, and by the fall CEO Richard Lowenthal heard it was likely out of the running.

But in January, the company received a letter from the Energy Department that essentially said: We like your application but we want to see some changes. Can Coulomb get formal agreements in place with three automakers? And with nine cities? In 45 days?

"If you think the DOE is just going to hand you a check -- it's not like that," said Lowenthal, who hired a team of people to manage Coulomb's application. "They make you earn that money. But I'm not complaining--they are spending public dollars."

Coulomb scrambled and nailed down partnerships with Ford, Chevrolet and smart USA. The work was worth it: the company was awarded a $15 million grant to install 5,000 residential and public charging stations in nine geographically diverse regions: The Bay Area, Austin, Detroit, Los Angeles, Orlando, New York, Redmond, Wash., Sacramento and Washington, D.C. Coulomb received its first DOE check in June of this year, 13 months after applying. On Tuesday, the company is scheduled to install the first of its charging stations funded by the grant in San Francisco.

"We had to prove that the electric vehicles were coming," said Lowenthal. "I see the DOE as an early adopter customer who is helping us to scale, and they are creating an electric vehicle industry in the United States."

Soladigm, a Milpitas start-up that makes energy-efficient windows, was awarded a $3.47 million grant to take its window technology out of the lab and into production.

"We are moving at a fast pace as a company, and this grant will help us go faster," said Soladigm CEO Rao Mulpuri. "We'll hire scientists that we couldn't have otherwise, and we'll get to commercialization quicker."

The Bay Area is widely regarded as the epicenter of cleantech in the United States, followed by Los Angeles, because of venture capital investment. California attracted $2.1 billion in venture capital in 2009, according to the Cleantech Group, far more than any other state.

But as Recovery Act dollars are doled out across the country, local cleantech companies have also benefitted in indirect ways. Several of the nation's leading utilities were awarded significant Energy Department grants to help them modernize the electric grid. In turn, they've hired Silicon Valley smart grid start-ups like eMeter in San Mateo and Silver Spring Networks in Redwood City.

AltaRock Energy in Sausalito, a geothermal company backed by Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins, was awarded a $21.4 million grant to demonstrate its technology near Bend, Ore.

"Venture capitalists and the Department of Energy are both believers in trying to take a vision and turning it into a reality," said AltaRock CEO Don O'Shei. "VCs put their faith in technology, and see it as a way to change the economic landscape. The government is also thinking about the environment, energy independence and national security, and they want to catalyze technologies that will create whole new industries. If you look forward five years, and this is successful, the money will be like space program money."


Updated: 2016/06/30

If you speak another language fluently and you liked this page, make a contribution by translating it! For additional translations check out (Voor vertaling van Engels tot Nederlands) (For oversettelse fra Engelsk til Norsk)
(Для дополнительных переводов проверяют )