“Kick It” video by Tom Rand a funny look at what’s possible with green energy

My cleantech pal Tom Rand — engineer, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, now author — has a new book called “Kick The Fossil Fuel Habit” that’s attempting to raise more awareness of the potential for using renewable energy to wean ourselves from fossil fuels. He’s just finished a new video promoting the book, and it’s quite enjoyable to watch. Check it out.

Canadian director James Cameron takes shot at Conservative blowhard Glenn Beck

Check out this post from Joe Romm over at Climate Progress. Apparently Avatar director James Cameron, a Canadian born in Northern Ontario, is getting tired of the climate denier crowd, so had the following to say at a recent press conference: “I want to call those deniers out into the street at high noon and shoot it out with those boneheads. Anybody that is a global-warming denier at this point in time has got their head so deeply up their ass I’m not sure they could hear me.” He also offered to debate FoxNews loudmouth Glenn Beck on the issue.


Buyer beware as (publicly traded) companies move to exploit hype around Ontario FIT program

On January 7 I wrote a post about Burnaby, B.C.-based solar manufacturer Day4 Energy and its sale of 5.1 megawatts of solar modules to Ontario’s Hybridyne Power Systems Canada, which designs and constructs utility-scale solar parks and — according to my post — “is 47.5 per cent owned by Atlantic Wind and Solar Inc.” I also wrote that “Atlantic and Hybridyne plan to use the panels for a 2 MW energy park in Newcastle, about an hour east of Toronto, and Atlantic will use the rest for a variety of rooftop solar installations, part of its plan to take advantage of Ontario’s new feed-in tariff program.”

The information about Atlantic Wind & Solar was taken right out of Day4 Energy’s press release, in which it said:

Since AWSL’s June 2009 acquisition of Hybridyne Power Systems Canada, the Company has been actively pursuing a number of exciting renewable energy projects that portend a successful 2010 with the achievement of several corporate milestones. The Hybridyne acquisition, followed by the revolutionary Green Energy Act introduced by Canada’s most populous province, Ontario, has led to a strong focus by Atlantic Wind and Solar Inc. on the exciting potential for growth in the rooftop solar business across Ontario, and has quickened the pace of its province-wide marketing efforts in that regard.

Day4’s confusion is understandable, given that Atlantic Wind has been indicating to everyone that the deal with Hybridyne was a done deal. Continue reading Buyer beware as (publicly traded) companies move to exploit hype around Ontario FIT program

Chrysler connections put Electrovaya on the map

Mississauga, Ontario-based Electrovaya, maker of lithium-ion superpolymer battery systems, got a major boost Monday after announcing that former Chrysler CEO and vice-chairman Thomas LaSorda had joined its board and become a strategic advisor to Sankar DasGupta, Electrovaya’s founder and CEO. As if that wasn’t enough to excite investors, Chrysler Group disclosed that it has selected Electrovaya as the battery supplier for a DOE-funded plug-in hybrid demonstration project. Chrysler is building 140 PHEV Ram trucks as part of the project, and the vehicles will use Electrovaya’s battery system.

No doubt, the Chrysler relationship is golden for Electrovaya, and LaSorda brings a depth of industry and management experience that has always been a weak spot for this small Ontario company. As I’ve written in previous posts, Electrovaya is on a roll. Automotive partnerships in Asia, Europe, and now North America (and with a Tier 1 automaker, no less!). It recorded its first profit in the last quarter of 2009. And its progress hasn’t been just around car batteries. It has also started to get more seriously into the grid storage game, announcing in February that it is the battery supply partner in a $7.5 project to test out the idea of using old lithium-ion vehicle batteries for utility-scale grid storage. As I said before, 2010 will be — and is becoming — a breakout year for Electrovaya.

SWITCH Materials developing economical glaze for “smart windows”

I take a look today at Vancouver-based SWITCH Materials in today’s Clean Break column. This company, spun out of research conducted at Simon Fraser University, has developed novel molecular switches that are sensitive to both sunlight and electric current. They darken when exposed to sunlight, but can revert back to colourless mode when a small electric current is applied. The company calls it a hybrid switch — both photochromic and electrochromic — and it has a number of advantages. First, you don’t always want the shading even when it’s sunny, like in the winter (in the case of a building) or when you’re driving (in the case of car windows). Having an electrochromic override comes in handy as a way to manage building energy use. In the case of a vehicle, imagine that as soon as you turn off your ignition the windows tint to prevent the inside seats and dashboard from heating up and fading over time from sun exposure. Then, when you hop in the car to go, the shading goes away instantly when the ignition is turned on again. Very cool.

SWITCH says it has a roll-to-roll process for making a glaze that could be applied to any window or surface made of clear material. This could be an important development for smart buildings. Just recently, the company raised $7.5 million toward product commercialization, so it will be interesting to see what it has come up with a year from now.