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Cleantech Group Selects On-Ramp Wireless for the 2012 Global Cleantech 100 List

San Diego-based On-Ramp Wireless, developer of wireless solutions for energy automation, accepted a prestigious 2012 Global Cleantech 100 award last night from Cleantech Group, a leading global research and advisory firm focused on innovation in energy and the environment. The Global Cleantech 100 list, which was chosen among 8,285 applicants in 85 countries, is unique in the sector because it highlights the promise of private clean technology companies from all around the world, focusing on those companies which the players in the market feel are currently the most likely to make the most significant market impact over the next 5-10 years.

“We are honored to be recognized by this elite program again in 2012,” said Joaquin Silva, president and CEO of On-Ramp Wireless. “The On-Ramp Ultra-Link Processing network continues to prove to be a true asset to the infrastructure market worldwide, and we look forward to further improve the energy efficiency of utilities and other partners.”

For complete information on On-Ramp’s leadership within the cleantech space, access Cleantech Group’s leading market intelligence platform, i3, and search for On-Ramp at here. You can also find the full 2012 Global Cleantech 100 report with commentary and insight by Cleantech Group and sponsored by Autodesk, Deloitte, Wermuth Asset Management, and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati here.

About On-Ramp Wireless

On-Ramp Wireless has developed the first wireless system purpose-built to efficiently connect billions of hard-to-reach devices in metro scale and other challenging environments. On-Ramp’s field-proven Ultra-Link Processing system enables low-power monitoring and control applications within Smart Grid, oil and gas operations, water efficiency, industrial sensing, and location tracking. Operating in unlicensed spectrum, the signal processing innovation finds weak signals even in high noise environments, yielding extreme coverage, immunity to high interference, and significantly lowers cost. For more information, visit


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What will propel the drivers on the left coast in 2022?

My ten year vision for personal transportation in California is crystal clear.  It is definitely electricity or maybe algae biofuel or perhaps hydrogen or even natural gas or possibly what we are already doing only less so.  Recent reports confirm my long-held conviction that much of life is spent in the selective search for “facts” to support conclusions already embraced.  Here are some recently released resources you can utilize to rationalize your point of view.

Earlier this month saw the release of Electric Drive by ’25, How California Can Catalyze Mass Adoption of Electric Vehicles by 2025  The 28 page report was jointly conceived by the law schools at Berkeley and UCLA.  Greg Haddow of San Diego Gas & Electric was one of the panel members at the May 2012 Climate Change Workshop that informed this analysis.

The California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP) has released a new report called, A California Road Map: The Commercialization of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles.  In San Diego, Pearson Fuels is currently developing its hydrogen business model for existing or newly-built gasoline stations in California.

The Algae Biomass Summit is underway this week in Colorado.  Adding to the fun is a turbo-charged, 800cc diesel powered track motorcycle from Holland.  UC San Diego has provided a 50/50 blend of biodiesel derived from algae and cooking oil waste.  Sapphire Energy’s contribution is a 100% algae-derived Green Crude diesel fuel.  Below the Surface’s ‘Driving Innovation’ Team established the first official algae-fueled motorcycle speed record during The Texas Mile land speed event in March reaching 94.6 mph. 

Even faster than the pond scum powered bike is the new Tesla Model S which can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in under 4.4 seconds.  Yesterday Tesla Motors unveiled its highly anticipated Supercharger network. Constructed in secret, Tesla revealed the locations of the first six Supercharger stations, which will allow the Model S to travel long distances with ultra-fast charging throughout California, parts of Nevada and Arizona. The electricity used by the Supercharger comes from a solar carport system provided by SolarCityElon Musk, Tesla Motors co-founder and CEO is also the Chairman of SolarCity.  The use of the Supercharger stations will be free for Tesla Model S owners. 

UC San Diego has an established fleet of electric vehicles supported with the necessary charging infrastructure.  Yesterday they announced the installation of the first of 20 public EV charging stations on the campus in La Jolla.  Turnkey solar system provider Sullivan Solar Power is responsible for the installation.

Wildcat Discovery Technologies, a privately held San Diego company focused on battery materials development, said Wednesday it signed a multi-year joint development agreement to develop materials to improve rechargeable battery technology with Japan’s Ashai Kasei Corp., one of the world’s largest producers of advanced battery separators.  Wildcat maintains it can accelerate improvements in battery technology with its capabilities to design, develop and commercialize transformational advanced battery materials. The company claims its 32-person team of scientists and engineers uses proprietary high-throughput tools to develop and optimize materials.

The most expensive component in an electric car is the battery, so why not put it to work making EVs not just environmentally but also financially appealing? That’s the idea behind V2G (Vehicle to Grid) technology.  The EV owner makes their battery available to the utility during a given period and, depending on supply and demand in the grid, the utility uses the car as a short time energy storage solution in order to help regulate the power frequency of the grid. The value of providing these regulation services is very high.  An article in Intelligent Utility magazine drew heavily on the explorative work being done by San Diego Gas & ElectricAlex Kim, director of customer innovations at SDG&E noted that “San Diego may have one of the highest densities of EVs in its region (more than 1,600) than any region in the country.  SDG&E also may be tops in distributed solar photovoltaic panels, with more than 18,000 grid-tied systems. In combination, those two resources support a V2G business model that would focus on localized benefits in addition to ancillary services for the wholesale market that serve an ISO or RTO.”  Xconomy is also on the V2G story with their article, Detroit Leading U.S. Development of New Vehicle-to-Grid Technology.   

The mix of what will fuel the cars of the future is uncertain.  What is absolutely certain is the unsustainability of a national car/truck infrastructure funded by the current fuel tax.  Even if electric vehicles fail to gain market share, the Federal mandate to increase fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon for cars and light-duty trucks is a road revenue killer.  An article in the Wall Street Journal last week warned, “Looking ahead, the Congressional Budget Office predicts new federal fuel-economy standards will reduce revenue by 21% in 2040 when they are fully phased in. To illustrate the effect of a 21% drop, the CBO estimates that if all cars on the road now met the stricter efficiency standards, it would mean a $57 billion cumulative reduction in revenue between now and 2022”.  This is another opportunity for Congress to act in the present rather than their usual ploy of punt and pray.


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Blow-by-Blow PV System Efficiency: A Case Study for Storage

Tom Murphy is an associate professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego.  His blog, Do the Math, takes an astrophysicist’s-eye view of societal issues relating to energy production, climate change, and economic growth.

A short while back, I described my standalone (off-grid) urban photovoltaic (PV) energy system. At the time, I promised a follow-up piece evaluating the realized efficiency of the system. What was I thinking? The resulting analysis is a lot of work! But it was good for me, and hopefully it will be useful to some of you lot as well. I’ll go ahead and give you the final answer: 62%. So you could peel away now and risk using this number out of context, or you could come with me into the rabbit hole…

Continue reading →


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Clean Tech Survival Strategies: Unlocking the secrets to local, state and federal incentives, loan guarantees, cash grants and more

CONNECT, in partnership with K&L Gates, has assembled a top level panel of industry and advocacy experts to shed the spotlight on how clean tech companies can navigate today’s changed world of government financing structures including: local, state and federal incentives, loan guarantees, tax credits and cash grants and current trends in strategic partnering and investment.

Arnold Klann of BlueFire Renewables will share his secrets to landing government funding and how to build a successful company that can survive changing government policies and administrations. Juancho Eekhout of SDG&E will outline the opportunities for clean tech companies presented by California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard which is one of the most ambitious renewable energy standards in the country. The RPS program requires investor-owned utilities, electric service providers, and community choice aggregators to increase procurement from eligible renewable energy resources to 33% of total procurement by 2020. Nick Leibham and Dirk Michels, Partners with K&L Gates, LLP will shed light on the current environment in D.C. post ARRA and where the funding opportunities lie across various government departments and agencies.

Following the presentation, Holly Smithson, President & COO CleanTECH San Diego will moderate a lively question and answer session between the audience and panelists.

Holly Smithson, President & COO, CleanTECH San Diego

Juancho Eekhout, San Diego Gas & Electric
Arnold Klann, CEO/President, BlueFire Renewables
Nick Leibham, Partner, K&L Gates, LLP
Dirk Michels, Partner, K&L Gates, LLP

Executives, CEOs, CFOs, industry members, in-house counsel, and senior management in the clean technology, venture capital and convergence sectors.

Sanford Consortium
2880 Torrey Pines Scenic Dr.
La Jolla, CA 92037

September 25, 2012    9:00am – 11:00am
(Registration begins at 8:30am)
Note: Breakfast will be provided for participants.



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CleanTECH San Diego takes position on California Proposition 39

By Guest Author Jason Anderson, Vice President of CleanTECH San Diego

On November 6, voters will consider Proposition 39, the California Clean Energy Jobs Act, which will close a tax loophole that gives an unfair advantage to out-of-state corporations that employ few Californians.  After a vote of our Advocacy Committee and our Executive Committee, CleanTECH San Diego has joined a coalition of businesses, education, labor and taxpayers to support Prop. 39.
How was this loophole created?  At the end of the 2009 state budget negotiations, in a last-minute, middle-of-the-night deal, a tax loophole was crafted that allows out-of-state companies to manipulate the tax system and get a tax advantage from keeping jobs out of California.  Eliminating this loophole – by instead basing corporate tax liability on sales in the state or the ‘single sales factor’ – will make California-based businesses more competitive, restore balance and fairness to the tax system, create new jobs and recover $1 billion a year in lost revenues. Closing the loophole will bring California’s tax policy in line with the policies of many other states, including New York, Indiana, Colorado, Illinois, Texas and Michigan.
The new state revenue will provide increased funding to vital state programs–such as education, health and social services, public safety and transportation.  In addition, for the first five years, Prop. 39 dedicates a portion of the new revenues to energy efficiency programs, which will create jobs and reduce the state’s long-term energy costs.
California is known worldwide for its innovation, its creativity and its world-class economy.  But this unfair tax policy puts California-based businesses at a disadvantage.  To learn more about Prop. 39 or to submit your endorsement, please visit

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Algae Biomass Organization: Report from the Executive Director

By Guest Author Mary Rosenthal Executive Director, Algae Biomass Organization

The algae industry’s successes have rarely been more apparent than this summer. On the heels of the Navy’s biofuel testing at RIMPAC in Hawaii in July, the most exciting news in August comes, surprisingly, from Congress, where the first-ever algae fuel tax credit was advanced in a bi-partisan vote of the Senate Finance Committee.
But that is not all. The vote came as ABO was completing preparations for an aggressive algae education campaign, the Summer of Algae II, in states across the nation, and as we acknowledged that the growing recognition of algae by audiences outside the lab required we give ABO a new name.
What’s in a name?
The word “Algae” is becoming a topic of discussion in the public sphere like never before. Successful tests like the U.S. Navy’s “Green Fleet” are bringing the topic of algae into everyday conversation. The same is true in policy venues, and we’re thrilled that the industry is moving out of exclusively academic and lab settings into the commercial and consumer markets.
So, earlier this month, we officially changed the name of the organization to the Algae Biomass Organization to better reflect the term that most people use and associate with our industry. We are still led by a dynamic and committed board of directors; we still have the largest cross-section of industry partners within our membership; and we continue to advocate tirelessly for policy and regulatory issues that benefit our industry.
An algae-based fuels tax credit
The growing awareness that prompted this name change also resulted in some great news on the policy front.
On August 2nd the Senate Finance Committee approved the Family Business Tax Cut Certainty Act of 2012. The bill, which received bipartisan support in the Committee, would extend the tax credit for the production of cellulosic biofuel through the end of 2013.
The bill would also extend the cellulosic biofuel tax credit to algae-based fuel for the first time.
This is one of ABO’s legislative priorities, and we were very pleased to see our language included in this legislation. The bipartisan support for the inclusion of algae-based biofuel is a significant milestone that will put the algae industry in an excellent position going into the legislative debates ahead.
The Summer of Algae II
ABO is building on this success with an aggressive education campaign that kicked off last week. ABO members across the nation are opening their doors to local and national officials to offer a first-hand look at the local jobs we are providing, the fuels and products we can make, and vast potential of the industry if given the right policy support.  We are calling this campaign the Summer of Algae II, in deference to the milestones of 2009 that Biofuels Digest dubbed the first Summer of Algae.
As summer winds down, keep in mind that these new policy victories, industry milestones, and educational events are building up to the largest, most important Algae Biomass Summit yet, to be held in Denver, September 24-27.  You can expect celebrations of the past year, planning for the next, and plenty of new business networking for an industry with a very bright future.
I can’t wait to see you there!

Mary Rosenthal

Executive Director, Algae Biomass Organization


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Success of local EDGE Initiative noted at Summer of Algae Tour

By Guest Author Jason Anderson, Vice President of CleanTECH San Diego

Earlier this week, I participated in the kick-off of the Algae Biomass Organization’s Summer of Algae Tour at UC San Diego. This event was co-hosted by Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego and the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology (SD-CAB).  The Summer of Algae Tour aims to educate policy makers about the algae biomass industry and its vast potential to continue creating jobs, domestic fuels, feedstock and other vital products.  The kick-off featured CleanTECH San Diego members Synthetic Genomics, General Atomics, Cellana and Sapphire Energy. Their pioneering work, along with the applied research within our local universities and institutions, serves as a stunning reminder of the global leadership provided by our region’s biofuels industry.  As Dr. Greg Mitchell of Scripps Institution of Oceanography explained to the audience, we are truly a “cluster of excellence.”  More information on ABO’s Summer of Algae Tour can be found here

My remarks at the event highlighted the EDGE Initiative and its successful conclusion.  As you know, more than two years ago CleanTECH San Diego and a number of key partner organizations, received a $4 million grant from the State of California to create curricula and workforce training programs designed to support our region’s biofuels and industrial biotech industry.  I am pleased to report that our work is complete.  Through a close collaboration, we have designed programs that not only support the biofuels and industrial biotech industry today, but will continue to evolve to meet industry needs as it matures.  To date, we have trained more than 300 workers and over one-third of those trained are now employed in the industry.  Just as the region’s research institutions and private sector companies continue to gain momentum and investment for their advances, EDGE’s cutting edge curricula and training programs are being considered for adoption by institutions all over the world.

The success of this program is due to a large number of people and organizations.  I would especially like to think Victoria Bradshaw, former Secretary, California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, for her leadership and support, Steve Mayfield and his team at SD-CAB and UC San Diego for their hard work and dedication in creating EDGE’s curricula and training programs, and Kristie Grover and the BIOCOM Institute for their work on behalf of the students.  I would also like to thank the Industry Advisory Council, made up of private sector companies (including those mentioned above), which were a critical component to this initiative, as they helped shape the final product.

The EDGE Initiative proves once again that San Diego’s spirit of collaboration is real and it works.  By forming partnerships with public and private stakeholders, we can continue to address the needs of our rapidly growing cleantech sector.  

Click EDGE Program Overview for an overview of the EDGE Initiative, and its impressive results.  I hope you take the time to read it.  Please let me know if you have any questions or need additional information.

Jason Anderson is Vice President of CleanTECH San Diego.  He can be reached at:


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Shared Solar in California Coming to a Vote

By Guest Author Lee Barken, CPA, LEED-AP

Community solar could mean another two gigawatts in California.

California’s Community Shared Solar bill, SB843, achieved another significant milestone on Thursday, passing the appropriations committee in the California Assembly. A final floor vote is expected in the next two weeks.

If passed, SB843 could add an additional 2 gigawatts to California’s renewable energy generation capacity, nearly tripling the size of the solar market and extending the benefits of solar power to new users through shared solar projects.

The breakthrough of SB843 is that it eliminates the need for a consumer to be physically connected to solar panels in order to access solar power. Currently, 75 percent of Read the rest of this entry »


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San Diego companies to play major role in the “Summer of Algae II”

On Monday, August 20, the first of a series of events featuring algae will kick off as part of a national campaign to raise awareness about the promise of the algae industry to create jobs, domestic fuels, and other food and feed products.  Through open-house style events, local and national officials will experience the research, products and jobs being created by some of the algae industry’s leading companies and research institutions.

The “Summer of Algae II” is sponsored by the Algae Biomass Organization, the trade association for the U.S. algae industry, and implemented by its member companies, with events primarily taking place during the next two weeks but also stretching into early Fall.  The campaign’s name is a nod to the original Summer of Algae, coined by Biofuels Digest editor Jim Lane to characterize the developments and momentum in the summer of 2009.

Companies and organizations participating in the events represent the broad geographic and technological variety of algae companies, including: Algaedyne (Minnesota); Algenol (Florida); Arizona State University (Arizona); BioProcess Algae, LLC (Iowa); Boeing Commercial Airplanes (Washington); Cellana (Hawaii); The Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels (Colorado); Duke Energy (Kentucky); FedEx (Tennessee); General Atomics (California); Matrix Genetics, LLC (Washington); Phycal (Ohio); The San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology at UC San Diego (California); Sapphire Energy (California); Solix BioSystems, Inc. (Colorado); St. Cloud State University (Minnesota); and Synthetic Genomics (California).

 “The Summer of Algae II will demonstrate the truly national promise of algae-based technologies to create jobs, develop a domestic fuel industry and manufacture a variety of other goods and products,” said Mary Rosenthal, executive director of the Algae Biomass Organization.  ”It’s important for policymakers at all levels to understand the huge potential of this industry to contribute to economic development, energy independence and national security.”

Currently, more than 200 companies across the U.S. are developing algae-based technologies to produce domestic, cost-competitive and sustainable products within multi-billion dollar industries such as fuels, animal feed, Omega-3 oils, cosmetics and other products.  Continued instability in the Middle East along with heat waves and droughts in the U.S. Midwest serve as an important reminder of the need to continually diversify sources of fuel and food.

Campaign events range from small briefings with local officials to larger tours of laboratories and commercial facilities that include panel discussions among several regional algae companies and research groups to announcements about new technologies.  Each event will focus on the unique local impact the industry is having on jobs, and how algae can be used to produce domestic fuels and products that enhance American energy security in an economically and environmentally sustainable manner.

A full list of events can be found on the Algae Biomass Organization’s Blog:  Interested parties can follow the campaign on twitter @algaeindustry, #summerofalgae and on the Algae Biomass Organization facebook page.

In addition to education and outreach efforts with policymakers, ABO produces and hosts the industry’s premier annual global conference, the Algae Biomass Summit, which this year will be held in Denver, CO, September 24-27 at which more than 800 algae industry leaders are expected to convene.  Earlier this year, ABO launched, the first website designed to showcase algae’s potential to audiences ranging from those just learning about algae to seasoned algae enthusiasts, media and entrepreneurs.


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How California Can Benefit from the Historic New Federal Fuel Efficiency Standards

In 2011, President Obama announced a historic agreement with thirteen major automakers to increase fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon for cars and light-duty trucks by Model Year 2025.  This agreement was the result of more than five years of collaborative work between the auto industry, Congress, presidents representing both political parties, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Transportation (DOT), and environmental leaders, and represents the first meaningful update to fuel efficiency standards in three decades.

Achieving the goals of this historic agreement – which is set to be finalized in August – will rely on innovative technologies and manufacturing, and California’s forward-thinking policies and innovative companies give our state a competitive advantage as the auto industry moves to meet these strong new standards.

On Tuesday August 28th, CleanTECH San Diego and the Pew Charitable Trusts will host a discussion on the critical role played by California in the development of the new federal standards, and how California’s business and policy leaders can help to ensure that California leads the way as the auto industry sets its sights on 54.5 MPG.

Speakers include:

  • Mary Nichols, Chairman, California Air Resources Board (CARB)
  • Mike Lewis, Principal, Pearson Fuels
  • Dave Grundstrom, Chairman & CEO, Marvin K. Brown Auto Center, Inc.
  • Major General Anthony Jackson- Commander, Marine Corps Installations West (invited)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (invited)

Tuesday August 28, 2012  4:00 – 6:30pm 

Energy Innovation Center
4760 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92117

4:00 – 4:30pm
Registration & Networking
4:30 – 6:30pm

This event is free.  Click here to register.


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GUEST AUTHOR Tom Murphy: Solar Data Treasure Trove

Tom Murphy is an associate professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego.  His blog, Do the Math, takes an astrophysicist’s-eye view of societal issues relating to energy production, climate change, and economic growth.

 I have not kept it secret that I’m a fan of solar power. Leaving storage hangups aside for now, the fact that the scale of available power is comfortably gigantic, that perfectly efficient technology exists, that it’s hard-over on the reality axis (vs. fantasy: it’s producing electricity on my roof right now), and that it works well almost everywhere—what’s not to like? Did you trip over that last part? Many do. In this post, we’ll look at just how much solar yield one may expect as a function of location within the U.S.

The ancient Mayans laboriously accumulated a substantial set of observational data on solar illumination across America well ahead of the present need. Okay, it wasn’t actually the ancient Mayans. It was the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), who embarked on a 30-year campaign beginning in 1961, covering 239 locations across the U.S. and associated territories. Imagine this. How many people were even cognizant of solar power in 1961? Yet the forward-thinking scientists at NREL appreciated the value of a solid baseline dataset way back then. This level of foresight seems akin to the Mayans constructing a calendar going all the way to 2012. That’s all I’m saying. It’s a gift from the past.I have often consulted and enjoyed the product of this work over the years—called the NREL Redbook, or more formally, the Solar Radiation Data Manual for Flat Plate and Concentrating Collectors. But with a snazzy blog post as motivation, I have taken it up a notch and produced a variety of graphical representations of the dataset to explore what it can tell us. Let’s begin the guided tour.

Continue reading →


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Scripps Institution Of Oceanography partners with SoCalGas to Explore System Using Algae To Capture Carbon Dioxide From Natural Gas Equipment And Power Plants

Algae LabSouthern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego (Scripps) today announced an agreement focusing on the design of an innovative system in which algae consume carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from natural gas combustion and cost-effectively convert it into valuable byproducts such as biomethane, biodiesel and animal feed.

For several years, researchers at Scripps, a member organization of the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology, and a number of commercial companies around San Diego and elsewhere, have been studying how algae can most efficiently be developed into a clean, renewable biofuel to one day replace non-renewable fossil fuels. Taking this research a step further, Scripps’ researchers hope to leverage algae’s natural ability to absorb CO2 in the environment and convert it into oil rich biomass or biomethane or refined into fossil fuel replacements. After extracting the oils for biodiesel, the remaining biomass can be sold as a safe, protein-rich animal feed.

The new collaboration between Scripps and SoCalGas includes an investigative research and systems engineering study to explore how algae production systems currently in development could most effectively capture industrial CO2 emissions. Targeted CO2 sources include: natural gas power plants, large engines used in natural gas compression and water pumping and boilers used to produce steam for industrial processes such as enhanced oil recovery.

“We are very excited to enter into this collaboration with Southern California Gas Company and bring our world-class scientific and engineering analysis capabilities to bear in assessing state-of-the-art algal culture systems for CO2 capture from point sources,” said Dominick Mendola, a senior development engineer in the laboratory of Greg Mitchell, a Scripps biologist who has explored marine algae for their potential as a new biofuel source. “If the Phase I analysis proves such systems can be safe and

Gregory Mitchell UCSD

economical, we then hope to enter into a Phase II agreement to help SoCalGas build and operate a module of a commercially scaled system, and test its capabilities at a site to be selected within Southern California.”

“We are strongly committed to supporting the development of zero and near-zero- emission natural gas technologies. Recovering CO2 from combustion and turning it into commodities such as biomethane, biodiesel or a high-quality animal feedstock is great for the environment while creating valuable products,” said Hal D. Snyder, vice president of customer solutions for SoCalGas. “None of this is easy, but working with world-class scientific organizations like Scripps Institution of Oceanography and UC San Diego greatly improves our chances of success.”


Click here for Eric Wolff’s article in the North County Times.



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The military bootprint in San Diego: A report and an event

Where do you want to be in the event the U.S. is invaded by a foreign army?  San Diego!  We have numerical superiority with over 55,000 Marines and almost as many Navy uniformed personnel.  Over 25% of the entire U.S. Marines Corps is based San Diego County. 

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure” is an old management adage which is part of the impetus behind the recent San Diego Military Economic Impact Study.  Commissioned by the San Diego Military Advisory Council (SDMAC) and executed by the Fermanian Business & Economic Institute at PLNU, the 47 page report gives detail to the defense-related activities and spending which will generate $32 billion of gross regional product in San Diego County in fiscal 2012. 

Click here to order the complete study and here for the executive review.

The substantial local economic presence of the military provides ongoing business opportunities including the cleantech sector.  In an effort to increase awareness about the Department of the Navy’s surge toward “Energy Independence,” CleanTECH San Diego and the San Diego Military Advisory Council (SDMAC) are co-hosting an inaugural event on July 26th at the Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier. This event will feature keynote remarks from Rear Admiral Dixon Smith, Commander, Navy Region Southwest and the Honorable Mayor Jerry Sanders, delivered to more than 300 stakeholders.

In 2010, US Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced his commitment that 40 percent of the Department of the Navy’s total energy consumption will come from alternative sources by 2020. San Diego’s cleantech cluster – comprising more than 800 companies from startups to large multinational enterprises – will play an integral role in satisfying this mandate.

“The Department of the Navy has a long history of leading energy transformations, from sail to coal to oil to nuclear power,” said SDMAC President Rear Admiral Jim Johnson, USN (Ret.). “This event will showcase the Navy’s long term vision for energy security and how they will transform energy vulnerabilities into mission advantages.”

The defense industry and the San Diego region have enjoyed a long tradition and strong history around research, innovation and economic development. According to a recent SDMAC economic impact study, the military accounts for 25 percent of all San Diego jobs and the region boasts the largest concentration of military forces in the world with 67 percent of the nation’s military training airspace located in the Southwest. The military is a powerful force for the local economy, generating more than $32 billion in gross regional product annually.

“This is a unique opportunity to accelerate San Diego’s clean energy leadership through partnerships between the Department of the Navy and the companies based here,” said Jim Waring, President & CEO, CleanTECH San Diego. “This timely event will convene key defense and cleantech industry stakeholders to examine how our region can promptly aid the Navy in reaching its ambitious renewable energy goals.”

Several case studies will be showcased with companies that are delivering clean energy solutions to the US Armed Forces. CleanTECH San Diego members, SDMAC members and other industry stakeholders are invited to attend and learn what clean technologies are enabling the Department of the Navy in realizing its energy production and consumption objectives.

Click here to register.

Thursday, July 26, 2012 4:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier
1000 North Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101


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Shared Solar One Step Closer to Reality

By Guest Author Lee Barken, CPA, LEED-AP

The California Assembly’s Utility & Commerce Committee just advanced a bill called the Community-Based Renewable Energy Self-Generation Program, or SB843, with a 10-to-2 vote on Monday. This 2,000-megawatt program would create a new $7 billion market for renewable energy. The bill’s passage was a critical win for the Golden State, signaling momentum and strong interest in expanding ‘shared solar,’ also known as ‘solar hosting,’ ‘solar gardens’ or ‘offsite solar.’

How Does Shared Solar Work?

The concept of shared solar is remarkably similar to what one might experience in a community vegetable garden. In this system, which is called Read the rest of this entry »


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GUEST AUTHOR Tom Murphy: Time to Be Honest With Ourselves About Our Looming Energy Risks

Tom Murphy is an associate professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego.  His blog, Do the Math, takes an astrophysicist’s-eye view of societal issues relating to energy production, climate change, and economic growth.

Tom Murphy’s insights about energy have been featured five times on this blog in the past year.  Each posting has elicited great response.  Recently he recorded an interview with Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity.  Murphy believes it is “time to be honest with ourselves about our looming energy risks.  There are simply not enough BTUs to meet rising global demand.”

Click here for the Podcast.  Or here for the Transcript.


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I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a (nanowire) tree

Technology convergence is the Red Bull that juices innovation clusters.  San Diego’s broadly diversified tech economy, well known for life science and wireless, is busting new moves in cleantech, biomimicry and nanotechnology.  Recent work by an entourage of electrical engineers at University of California, San Diego has created a nanowire “tree” which can generate hydrogen gas from water.  The ultimate payoff could be hydrogen from solar energy and water AND the use of that hydrogen to create fuel cells.  In short, solar energy to store energy with zero emission of greenhouse gases.  That rocks!

Today in the UK, Tamara Hinson, wrote about the nanowire tree technology being developed by Dr. Deli Wang and his research group in La Jolla.  Click here to read Limitless power from forests of the future: Human beings have always associated trees with life itself and now nanotrees could hold the key to a future of clean, cheap and plentiful power.


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Brookings Institute releases Beyond Boom and Bust: Putting Clean Tech On a Path To Subsidy Independence.

Last Wednesday the Brookings Institute released Beyond Boom and Bust: Putting Clean Tech On a Path To Subsidy Independence. The 65 page report exams the current state of the highly politicized clean energy technology sector.  Their premise is, “In the absence of significant and timely energy policy reform, the recent boom in US clean tech sectors could falter.” 

Part 1 of the report analyzes the past and future of Federal clean tech funding followed by a section which breaks out the market impacts (solar, wind, nuclear, biofuels, EVs and storage).  In Part 3 the authors present their recommended focus on “policy reform to both sustain market opportunities for advanced energy technologies and implement smart new policies that more effectively shepherd public resources and support innovative entrepreneurs and firms.”  They clearly state the wisdom of supporting innovation over massaging the market.  “Simple deployment subsidies or policies to create demand, for example, still allow foreign competitors to undercut domestic manufacturers and seize larger and larger market shares, as Chinese solar PV companies have proven in the last three years.  Only steady innovation can keep US firms at the leading edge of clean tech sectors, and a supportive policy regime will be essential.”

Although San Diego is not mentioned by name, on page 11 the report gives a strong shout out for innovation clusters.  “Likewise, the nation needs to develop more potent, catalytic ways to leverage and enhance regional clean tech industry clusters. Such industry clustering has been shown to accelerate growth by promoting innovation, entrepreneurship, and job creation.  Policy makers should increase investment in competitive grants to support smart regional cluster initiatives, designed not in Washington but on the ground close to the “bottom up” innovation that has broken out in numerous states and metropolitan areas.”

Long considered an innovation cluster Mecca, San Diego’s response is the San Diego iHub, which will build upon the region’s existing innovation infrastructure and strong culture of collaboration to create four convergence clusters: mobile health, biofuels, biomimicry, solar energy and energy storage.  Click here for the regional cleantech cluster database tracked by CleanTECH San Diego.

On April 25th one of the authors of the report, Mark Muro, will participate in a live web chat with moderator Vivyan Tran of POLITICO.  Click here to join in.

My only fault with the report is their narrow use of clean tech to mean clean energy technology.  In most common usage clean tech is more broadly defined to also include several non-energy technologies.  For example a non-energy technology which reduces the emission of Green House Gases (GHG) is clean tech for most of us as is the lengthy tech menu associated with clean air and water, recycling and a whole host of sustainable processes.

Click here to access Beyond Boom and Bust: Putting Clean Tech On a Path To Subsidy Independence.


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Posted in Biofuel, CleanTECH San Diego, Energy, Energy Storage, Solar Energy, Uncategorized, Wind Energy | No Comments »

GUEST AUTHOR Tom Murphy: My Great Hope for the Future

Tom Murphy is an associate professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego.  His blog, Do the Math, takes an astrophysicist’s-eye view of societal issues relating to energy production, climate change, and economic growth.

So far on Do the Math, I’ve put out a lot of negative energy—whatever that means. Topics have often focused on what we can’t do, or at least on the failings or difficulties of various ambitious plans. We can’t expect indefinite growth—whether in energy, population, or even growth of the economic variety. It is not obvious how we maintain our current standard of living once fossil fuels begin their inexorable decline this century. And as I’ve argued before, achieving a steady-state future implies approximate equity among the peoples of the Earth, so that maintaining today’s global energy consumption translates to living at one-fifth the power currently enjoyed in the U.S.

In this post, I offer a rosy vision for what I think we could accomplish in the near term to maximize our chances of coming out shiny and happy on the tail end of the fossil fuel saga. I’m no visionary, and this exercise represents a stretch for a physicist. But at least I can sketch a low-risk, physically viable route to the future. I can—in part—vouch for its physical viability based on my own dramatic reductions in energy footprint. I cannot vouch for the realism of the overall scheme. It’s a dream and a hope—a fool’s hope, really—and very, very far from a prediction or a blueprint. I’ve closed all the exits to get your attention. Now we’ll start looking at ways to nose out of our box in a safe and satisfying way.

Continue reading →


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PRESENTATION: 2012 California Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cap-and-Trade

On March 29 the Environmental Breakfast Club will present: 2012 California Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cap-and-Trade Implementation.

The program will provide a summary of AB32 Cap-and-Trade Requirements – the legal challenges and policy proceedings, an update on ARB Cap-and-Trade implementation options, the recent registration process for covered entities, and the schedule for additional compliance requirements for 2012 and beyond. You’ll also hear from experts Craig Anderson of Solar Turbines and Jackie Ferlita of Element Markets who will discuss compliance strategies such as:   

  • Benchmarking and free allocations  
  • Covered entities to reduce GHG emissions
  • Indirect impacts expected by the rule, such as higher electricity and water rates, and what companies can do to prepare to mitigate the impacts
  • The opt-in options 
  • Setting up compliance accounts  
  • The role of the carbon markets 
  • Compliance strategies for the first period 


Partner and Clean Tech Practice Group Leader

Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP 


BlueScape Environmental, Inc. 

Corporate Director of Environmental and Government   Affairs   

Solar Turbines    


Element Markets     

Thursday, March 29, 201    7:30 – 9:30 am
Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP 
525 B Street

First Floor Conference Center 
San Diego, CA 92101    

Please RSVP to:
Brittany Lewis at 619.525.3818

This event is complimentary to attend


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San Diego Solar Energy Symposium – March 6th

A recent report identified San Diego as having the most rooftop solar installations in the state. To ensure this continued success, CleanTECH San Diego and the Solar Electric Power Association are offering a half-day Solar Energy Symposium on March 6 at the University of San Diego to discuss the future of solar energy in the region. Experts will share information about the expansion of solar energy in San Diego, discuss its benefits, address misconceptions and identify ways to build a foundation for long-term solar growth.

This event will feature keynote speaker, Michael Picker, Senior Advisor to the Governor for Renewable Energy Facilities. Introductory and transitional addresses will be made by Jim Waring, President & CEO of CleanTECH San Diego, Bob Gibson, Vice President – Market Intelligence of SEPA and Morten Lund, Partner – Energy Development at Stoel Rives.

PANEL 1: Solar Energy – Today’s Trends and Challenges with moderator Scott Anders Director, University of San Diego Energy Policy Initiatives Center (EPIC) featuring panelists Cecilia Aguillon (Kyocera Solar), John Bumgarner (REC Solar), Thomas Noelle (Xtreme Power Solutions) and Byron Washom (UC San Diego).

PANEL 2: Solar in San Diego by 2020 – A Vision for Growth with moderator Andrew McAllister (California Center for Sustainable Energy) featuring panelists Tom Brill (SDG&E), Clark Crawford (Soitec) and Ted Ko (Clean Coalition).

Tuesday March 6, 2012 at 1:00 – 4:30 PM

University of San Diego
Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice
Reception to follow from 4:30 – 6:30 PM

Register at:


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Solar Hosting: No roof? No worries.

By Guest Author Lee Barken, CPA, LEED-AP 

In January 2012, research group Environment California released a report highlighting the phenomenal growth of solar energy in the state of California.  California, which is leading the nation in deployments, has installed just over 1,000 megawatts (mW) of solar power through 2011.  While California is the standard-bearer for solar energy in the U.S., countries such as Germany have installed 17 times that amount, with 4,000 mW deployed in the month of December 2011 alone.

The good news is that, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), California has just begun to tap its potential for renewable energy.  It estimates that existing buildings have the capacity to support up to 80,000 mW of rooftop solar systems.  With ample rooftop space and surging energy demands, the potential to grow solar in California and beyond is significant.  The question remains, how do we get there from here?

No roof?  No worries.

Financial innovations such as commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) and expanded residential leasing options can help make solar more affordable for people who own their roof.  For everybody else, a new kind of Read the rest of this entry »


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GUEST AUTHOR: The Alternative Energy Matrix

Tom Murphy is an associate professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego.  His blog, Do the Math, takes an astrophysicist’s-eye view of societal issues relating to energy production, climate change, and economic growth.

Breathe, Neo. I’ve been running a marathon lately to cover all the major players that may provide viable alternatives to fossil fuels this century. Even though I have not exhausted all possibilities, or covered each topic exhaustively, I am exhausted. So in this post, I will provide a recap of all the schemes discussed thus far, in matrix form. Then Do the Math will shift its focus to more of the “what next” part of the message.

The primary “mission” of late has been to sort possible future energy resources into boxes labeled “abundant,” “potent” (able to support something like a quarter of our present demand if fully developed), and “niche,” which is a polite way to say puny. In the process, I have clarified in my mind that a significant contributor to my concerns about future energy scarcity is not the simple quantitative scorecard. After all, if it were that easy, we’d be rocking along with a collective consensus about our path forward. Some comments have asked: “If we forget about trying to meet our total demand with one source, could we meet our demand if we add them all up?” Absolutely. In fact, the abundant sources technically need no other complement. So on the abundance score alone, we’re done at solar, for instance. But it’s not that simple, unfortunately. While the quantitative abundance of a resource is key, many other practical concerns enter the fray when trying to anticipate long-term prospects and challenges—usually making up the bulk of the words in prior posts.

For example, it does not much matter that Titan has enormous pools of methane unprotected by any army (that we know of!). The gigantic scale of this resource makes our Earthly fossil fuel allocation a mere speck. But so what? Practical considerations mean we will never grab this energy store. Likewise, some of our terrestrial sources of energy are super-abundant, but just a pain in the butt to access or put to practical use.

In this post, we will summarize the ins and outs of the various prospects. Interpretation will come later. For now, let’s just wrap it all up together.

Continue reading →


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Posted in Biofuel, Biomass, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, Geothermal, Guest Author, Solar Energy, Water Energy, Wind Energy | No Comments »

Dr. Naomi Oreskes: The verdict is in on climate change

UC San Diego History and Science Studies Professor, Dr. Naomi Oreskes, the co-author of Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming was recently featured on the OpEd page of the Los Angeles Times.  “The verdict is in on climate change” is a logical and articulate presentation why, in this case, the seemingly reasonable act of maintaining an open mind is, in fact, unreasonable.  Click here to get the full impact in her words.

In Merchants of Doubt, Dr. Oreskes describes how denial-for-hire “experts” have been involved in a continuum of anti-science campaigns stretching back over 50 years to a time when cigarettes were supposedly healthy.  Their tactics have centered on nurturing doubt to forestall action.  The jury is still out; two sides to every story; don’t rush to judgment are their common themes.

The remarkable scientific advances of the past two centuries are based upon a process of research, followed by scientific writing, followed by peer review.  Modern scientific truths are not based on opinion polls or the forcefully stated positions of hired guns from unrelated fields.  The fact that not every scientist within a given field is in agreement does not negate the validity of the peer reviewed conclusions held by the vast majority.  Imagine that you had a child with a life-threating medical condition.  Your doctors agree on the recommended course of action.  In doing so they reveal that their conclusions are held by 90% of the physicians in their specialty.  Would you not take action because their conclusions were not universally held?  Would tell your child, “The jury is still out?”  Would you wait?

Click here for my 2010 review of Merchants of Doubt.  Buy a copy for yourself and for all of your smart friends who read.  


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GUEST AUTHOR: The Motion of the Ocean

Tom Murphy is an associate professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego.  His blog, Do the Math, takes an astrophysicist’s-eye view of societal issues relating to energy production, climate change, and economic growth.

With the exception of tidal energy, our focus thus far has been on land-based energy sources. Meanwhile, the ocean absorbs a prodigious fraction of the Sun’s incident energy, creating thermal gradients, currents, and waves whipped up by winds. Let’s put some scales on the energetics of these sources and see if we may turn to them for help. We’ve got our three boxes ready: abundant, potent, and niche (puny). Time to do some sorting!

Thermal Gradients

Wherever there is a thermal gradient, our eyes light up because we can create a heat flow across the gradient and capture some fraction of the energy flow to do useful work. This is called a heat engine, the efficiency of which is capped by the theoretical maximum (Th − Tc)/Th, where “h” and “c” subscripts refer to absolute temperatures of the hot and cold reservoirs, respectively. In the ocean, we are rather limited in how much gradient is available. The surface does not tend to exceed 30°C (303 K), while the depths cannot get much cooler than 0°C (273 K; pressure and salinity allow it to go a few degrees negative). The maximum thermodynamic efficiency therefore tops out at 10%, and in practice we might get half of this in a real application. The general scheme of producing energy from thermal gradients in the ocean is called ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC).



Continue Reading >


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Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity to Plan San Diego’s Future

With a projected 40 percent population growth in the next 40 years, San Diego will need 400,000 more homes and 500,000 new jobs by 2050.  Now, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to influence how people will live, work, learn and play in the future throughout the San Diego region.  Visit, share your values and priorities and be a part of a major, region-wide effort to plan for our future.  This is our chance to share our personal voices on what we want our region to become.  If many of us speak up, government officials will listen! is the result of nearly two years of research and community input organized under Our Greater San Diego Vision, an initiative facilitated by The San Diego Foundation and supported by close to 300 ambassadors and task force members, more than 170 diverse community partners, and an unprecedented 10 media sponsors.

“It’s in everyone’s interests to take a few minutes and go online to help shape the region for decades to come,” said Bill Geppert, chair of Our Greater San Diego Vision.  “People in San Diego County are concerned about the region’s future, especially its high cost of living and how that impacts their quality of life.  This is an opportunity to put the future in your own hands.”

During community workshops in the fall and task force meetings over the summer, ideas were generated and then combined with the initiative’s public opinion research and other data points to come up with scenarios presented at

Once the public participation window closes on January 31st, the results will be developed into a guiding vision for the region to be unveiled in the late spring of 2012 and continually refreshed and updated.

To help shape a vision for the future of the region in which we all live, work and play, visit . 

The future is at stake.  Time is of the essence.  January 31st is the last day to have your say.


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