The world is in the midst of a major transition to clean energy systems. TechVision21 has helped clients—start-ups, global firms, governments, consortia and universities—shape legislation and Federal programs, and secure millions of dollars to advance their clean energy technologies including PV and CSP solar, ocean energy, fuel cells, biomass and biofuels, geothermal energy and energy-efficient automotive technology.
The world’s oceans represent a vast untapped source of clean energy. For example, the solar energy absorbed by the oceans annually is equivalent to 4,000 times the energy consumed by humans. If less than one-tenth of one percent of this energy were converted into electric power, it would supply more than 20 times the electricity used in the United States per day. Technologies under development now could harness the energy from wave, tidal, and ocean thermal resources. To tap this energy, the U.S. Department of Energy is investing millions of dollars in research, development, demonstration and environmental studies. TechVision21 helped a Fortune 500 company: access several million dollars in grants to advance its ocean energy technology, secure legislative provisions making the technology eligible for Federal renewable energy tax credits, get a Department of Commerce commitment to reestablish the regulatory and licensing regime for the client technology, and helped ignite Department of Defense activities to evaluate the client technology to power several U.S. military bases.
The United States has the largest solar resource of any industrialized country, and is positioned to capture significant benefits from leadership in the global market for solar photovoltaics. However, to achieve these benefits, solar energy must achieve “grid parity,” cost competitiveness with other forms of energy. Reducing the cost of producing solar cells, PV components and balance of systems hardware could drive solar PV to grid parity, unleashing this source of clean energy and establishing globally competitive PV manufacturing in the United States. TechVision21 helped a consortium of industry and university partners shape the vision for a PV manufacturing program of high interest to the Department of Energy. The proposed initiative won a multi-million dollar grant. We also assisted in developing the winning grant proposal.
Concentrating Solar Power
The United States has the largest solar resource of any industrialized country, with especially rich solar resources in the American West. Concentrating solar power systems (CSP) have great potential to deliver cost competitive, utility-scale clean energy, particularly where U.S. solar resources are the greatest. The U.S. Department of Energy is investing millions of dollars to support development and demonstration of several technologies—such as parabolic trough, dish, solar towers, and thermal storage—to advance CSP into commercialization. TechVision21 helped a Fortune 500 systems integrator identify and evaluate Federal loan and grant programs, and other support for developing utility-scale CSP systems.
Biomass is unique among renewable energy resources because it can be converted to fuels, chemicals or power. The United States has the capacity to produce more than one billion tons of sustainable biomass, which can be used to produce cleaner fuel for vehicles, chemicals and renewable power to supply the grid. Bioenergy can create new domestic economic opportunities and jobs in agriculture, manufacturing and services. However, while markets for bioenergy exist today around the world, the untapped potential is enormous. Advances are needed to reduce production costs, expand the diversity of feedstocks and establish greater infrastructure. On behalf of an international foundation, TechVision21 prepared a detailed analysis of the Federal government’s expansive multi-agency biofuels investments and programs. We also helped the organization develop an initiative to spur bi-national partnerships in biofuels R&D and commercialization. Also, TechVision21 developed marketing materials to promote a Fortune 500 company’s biopower system solutions.
Advanced Vehicle Technologies
On-road vehicles account for nearly 60 percent of total U.S. oil consumption. Development and deployment of energy-efficient, environmentally friendly transportation technologies will help the United States reduce its addiction to oil and curb greenhouse gas emissions. To drive achievement of these goals, the Federal government set a corporate average fuel economy (CAFÉ) standard of 54.5 mph for cars and light trucks by 2025. New electric drive and advanced diesel technologies will be needed to meet these standards. The Federal government is investing hundreds of millions of dollars annually to advance electric vehicles and their batteries, and fuel-efficient combustion engines. The U.S. military also needs advanced vehicle technologies to reduce the costs and logistics associated with using a wide range of conventional fossil fuel-burning military vehicles. TechVision21 helped several venture capital-backed start-up businesses in efforts to gain Federal grant and loan support for advancing their innovative vehicle technologies and establishing manufacturing facilities to produce them.
Fuel cells use the chemical energy of hydrogen or another fuel to cleanly and efficiently produce electricity. Unique in terms of the variety of their potential applications, they can provide power for systems as large as a utility power station and as small as a laptop computer. They can operate at higher efficiencies than combustion engines, and convert the chemical energy in the fuel to electrical energy with efficiencies of up to 60 percent with lower emissions. Hydrogen fuel cells emit only water, so there are no carbon emissions or air pollutants that create smog and cause health problems. TechVision21 helped a top-ten ranked institute of undergraduate engineering education secure a multi-million dollar grant to establish a center for fuel cell systems and powertrain integration research.
A smart grid is an electric grid that maximizes the integration of advanced information, communication and control technologies to improve the operation, reliability, security and affordability of electric utility systems. Smart grids are also needed for larger scale use of renewable energy and electric vehicles. The Federal government is investing millions of dollars in smart grid technology development, and demonstrations of smart grids. TechVision21 helped an electric cooperative win a multi-million dollar Federal grant to replace obsolete equipment with digital smart grid equipment, and expand the utility’s fiber optic network.
Rural America is an energy resource and energy efficiency opportunity. For example, America’s farms are a source of biofuels, biomass energy, wind and solar power, geothermal energy and energy generated from animal waste. In addition, there are significant opportunities to improve energy efficiency in rural settings. Support for developing rural energy is a high priority for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. TechVision21 provided major assistance in developing complex grant applications that secured Federal funding for expanding production capacity at a rural small business biofuels plant and a rural utility company’s geothermal energy project.