What do renewables have to do with data communications?

Mark Culpepper e-mailed me a few weeks back with an insightful essay he had written comparing the evolution of the data communications (or computing) market of earlier years to the renewables market today. I offered to link his work on Clean Break, but he first wanted to see if he could get it published in a non-blog forum, so I’m please to see that Renewable Energy Access has picked it up. And, of course, from there the blog community has begun to pick it up anyway. If you’ve got the time, it’s an interesting read.

Canadian production of biodiesel and ethanol lags

This isn’t surprising, but it’s worth pointing out a study from F.O. Licht, prepared for the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, that concludes Canada is well behind Brazil and the United States when it comes to biofuel production, and behind many European Union countries and other geographies when biofuels are measured as a percentage of gasoline consumption. The study takes a look at the different policy mechanisms in each country that support biofuels, and gives credit to some provinces in Canada — including Ontario — for setting mandates. The CRFA has obviously commissioned this report to put pressure on federal politicians to impose similar mandates on a national level, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The ruling Conservatives and the recently ousted Liberals have both supported a policy that’s similar to Ontario’s, so you’d think this would be a slam dunk. On a related note, Biox Corp. is getting close to opening its biodiesel production plant in Hamilton, Ont., which will put 60 million litres a year on tap.

Cleantech: Good or bad investment for VCs

Red Herring has a pair of stories, each exploring different conclusions about the opportunities in cleantech. One piece points to the stunning growth in the sector — if you can call it that — and backs it up by recapping some of the recent reports out of Clean Edge and the Cleantech Capital Group. The other probes some venture capitalists who tend to shy away from cleantech investments, largely because of the large upfront project capital needed to convince slow-moving and cautious utilities or municipalities to stray from that comfort blanket called “normal.” In other words, why put your job on the line and risk testing out something new if what you’ve got, while not the best, works and keeps you employed? Matt Horton, a principal at VC firm @Ventures, is quoted as saying that the capital-intensive nature of some cleantech plays and the lengthy wait until final industry adoption is part of what’s keeping $100 billion of VC money on the sidelines.

EEStor has open house, shows off EV prototypes

Just when you thought you could get all your news from the mainstream press — ha! — a reader of Clean Break was kind enough to forward a PDF of a newsletter put out by the city of Cedar Park, Texas (Note: the city has since de-activated the link). Among the various local news flashes is a bit about Cedar Park startup EEStor Inc., which decided on March 25th to hold a five-hour open house to show off two prototypes of a Feel Good Car that runs off one of its super dooper ultracapacitor-based energy storage systems — which, it bears repeating, claim to have 10 times the energy density of lead acid batteries and none of the negative side effects, such as slow charge time, limited cycling and environmental nastiness.

Richard Weir, co-founder and president of EEStor, wouldn’t speak to me when I wrote an article about the company about a month ago. But here’s what the Cedar Park’s news flash managed to get:

“This is a very sophisticated electric car, with 250 to 300 miles of range,” Richard Weir, CEO, president and co-founder of EEStor said. “It’ll take a full electrical charge in about the time it takes to gas up a regular car. Just plug it up for a few minutes and you’re off.” Many auto manufacturers experimented with electric cars in the 1980s and 1990s but essentially abandoned the technology for hybrid or other alternative fuel systems due to their high cost of manufacture and maintenance. Weir believes EEStor has overcome those hurdles with their product. “This is just a preview of what’s to come. We have another major announcement for May. But seeing is believing!” he said.

May? Major announcement? Oh, the suspense is killing me. If anybody out there in Cedar Park, Texas, managed to drop by for the open house and see these little electric vehicles in action, let me know what you saw — and whether you believe. As mentioned before, Kleiner Perkins is behind them, so even if you find it difficult to believe it’s something you simply can’t ignore.

BTW: EEStor doesn’t have a Web site yet but Weir has registered www.eestor.us — so it’s a matter of time before something appears.