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TMCnet GreenTech Week in Review
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September 22, 2012

TMCnet GreenTech Week in Review

By Cheryl Kaften
TMCnet Contributor

In green technology news this week, the aptly named CaliforniaFIRST program is leading the United States in  financing for commercial renewable energy retrofits; GE has received $63 million in orders for its innovative sodium battery since the product launched in July; Israel’s Sol Chip has raised $2 million in public-private funding for its patented embedded solar battery technology; and working with two Asian firms, IBM (News - Alert) has developed a CZTS thin-film solar system that is capable of achieving a record-breaking  PV solar-to-electric power conversion efficiency of 11.1 percent.

California is launching the nation’s largest PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy (News - Alert)) municipal bond financing program – with participation from 14 counties and 126 cities in the Golden State. Called CaliforniaFIRST, the initiative will enable commercial property owners to retrofit their facilities to deploy renewable energy and make water upgrades. Under the program, commercial property owners would borrow money from the government to pay for structural improvements and repay it over 15 to 20 years through a special assessment added to their annual property-tax bills. Local governments would get the funding by selling municipal bonds to private investors.

This is the first multi-jurisdictional program of its kind to be essentially statewide in scale.

GE’s Energy Storage division is enjoying both “the power and the glory” this month. The GE unit has received $63 million in orders for its innovative Durathon battery since the product launched in July. In its first weeks of operation, the business secured ten new telecom customer orders across Africa, Asia and North America. The breakthrough battery works by employing environmentally responsible sodium chemistry to capture excess energy from diesel fuel generators. When a generator is off and the battery is fully charged, the battery feeds the stored power back to the cell tower.

This hybrid, cyclic charge/discharge operation reduces fuel consumption by up to 40 percent.  It is designed for use in telecom, uninterrupted power supply (UPS) and industrial applications.

Israel’s Sol Chip, which will offer patented embedded solar battery technology, has raised $2 million in public-private funding. The company provides renewable battery power technology by employing photovoltaic (PV) energy integrated with low-power electronic devices (VLSI). This new technology could be used for security systems, water systems, gas sensors, and radio frequency identification (RFID) chips. The first embedded chips will likely be sold starting in early 2013.

Working with two Asia-based firms, IBM has developed CZTS thin-film solar systems that are capable of achieving a PV solar-to-electric power conversion efficiency of 11.1 percent— a world record for this class of semiconductors. IBM partnered with Solar Frontier, a Tokyo-based manufacturer of CIS (copper, indium, selenium) thin-film solar modules; and DelSolar, a developer of solar cells and modules and PV systems with headquarters in Taiwan, to develop an efficient and affordable PV cell made of abundant natural resources. 

SolarAid, a U.K.-based international development charity, and SunFunder, a new U.S.-based crowdfunding website, have launched an innovative financing partnership to bring solar power to over 20,000 people who live off the grid in Eastern Zambia.  SunFunder gives individual investors the opportunity to invest in off-grid, high-quality solar projects. This year, SunFunder will provide up to $50,000 in loans to SolarAid through its social enterprise, SunnyMoney – a network of associated on-the-ground dealers which ensures that local residents will have access to the lighting products, as well as ongoing maintenance and advisory services.

Two days after the project’s launch this week, it already had raised $1,550 on the SunFund site.  

Allied Electronics recently inked an agreement to distribute Siemens' (News - Alert) low-voltage products, including motor controls, pilot devices and communication devices.  Siemens’ Low and Medium Voltages help clients increase energy efficiency and improve productivity. With these products, clients can avoid expensive power interruptions, equipment breakdowns and start-up costs.

The solutions are widely used in an airports, hospitals, data centers, food processing facilities and shopping centers,

Applied Nanotech Holdings has been awarded a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant, worth $999,990, from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop ultra-lightweight hydrogen fuel tanks using carbon nanotube (CNT) reinforcement. The two-year grant aims to significantly improve the mechanical properties of the carbon fiber/epoxy material used to construct hydrogen fuel tanks with CNT reinforcement. The goal is to reduce the weight of the tanks by 20 percent or more, in order to cut the cost of hydrogen fuel tanks and increase the vehicles’ fuel efficiency.

Organic light-emitting diodes (OLED), which can be used to create digital displays in television screens, computer monitors and mobile phones, earned revenue of more than $1.69 billion in 2011, according to a report just released by Frost & Sullivan (News - Alert). In OLEDS, a film made of an organic compound emits light in response to an electric current. OLED displays can use either passive-matrix (PMOLED) or active-matrix (AMOLED) addressing schemes. AMOLEDs require a thin-film transistor backplane to switch each individual pixel on or off, but allow for higher resolution and larger display sizes.

The report contends that OLEDs have an advantage over liquid crystal displays (LCD) because their OLED displays are thinner, lightweight and printable.That’s all for this week, but green energy never stops. Check back next week for more!

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX. Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

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