To make our list, your company had to be, first and foremost, innovative. Your company needed an innovative product, technology, or process to even have been considered for our rundown.
Contributed by | Company Energy
Reprinted with permission from Company Energy:
California wins. Of the 50 companies on our list, 17 are from The Golden State.
Of course, hailing from California wasn’t a perquisite to be one of the 50 most innovative new renewable energy companies. In fact, we were pretty loose with the terms “new,” “renewable,” and “energy.”
To make our list, your company had to be, first and foremost, innovative. Your company needed an innovative product, technology, or process to even have been considered for our rundown. That’s because innovation is what will eventually rid us of our dependence on fossil fuels. And innovation will help more people get affordable energy on this planet.
Join us in celebrating the following 50 companies and their innovations. Each one is on the cutting edge of renewable energy technology and helping to save the world.
1366 Tech wants to make solar energy cheaper than coal. They’re going to do it by making solar wafers cheaper. Solar wafers are the most important and most expensive part of photovoltaic panels. Therefore, they are also one of the most expensive elements of solar energy. By the way, “1366” refers to the average amount of solar energy that strikes a square meter of Earth.
San Diego, California
Achates Power is developing something that’s fuel efficient, reduces greenhouse gas emission, and costs less than others of its kind. The San Diego-based company is developing an internal combustion engine that has two pistons in each cylinder. In the future, we’ll need super-efficient combustion engines. Achates Power is making them now.
Aemetis owns a plethora of patents and technology licenses for the production of advanced biochemical and renewable fuels. They produce 60 million gallons of ethanol a year at their facility near Modesto. In a nutshell, their goal is to develop technologies and products that will eliminate the need for petroleum. Their name is a combination of the Scottish word “Ae” meaning “the one” and “metis” meaning “prudent wisdom” in Greek.
Airlight Energy not only wants to create renewable technology, they want to create sustainable renewable technology. The company uses proprietary solar technology to build huge electricity and thermal power plants. You should check out their video of one of their power plants being built in Morocco. It’s awesome stuff. Airlight also believes in using local workers and material; reducing carbon emissions and water use; and respecting the land.
An Airlight Energy project in Switzerland. Photo courtesy of Christine und Hagen Graf.
The Alliance for Solar Choice
The Alliance for Solar Choice innovates not through products or technology but by steadfastly supporting renewable energies. Their main focus is rooftop solar power and their main fight is keeping “net energy metering”—the ability for solar users to get full credit for the energy they give back to the grid.
AltaRock sounds like an act at this year’s Coachella Music Festival, but it’s actually a full-service geothermal energy technology and services company. AltaRock uses their crack team and their brilliant innovations to build and operate geothermal power plants. They are especially good at taking under-performing plants and making them efficient.
An AltraRock project near Bend, Oregon. Photo courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington.
Are you in the market for some safe, cost-effective, and high performance energy storage for long-duration stationary applications? Then again, who isn’t? Either way, you’ll want to contact Aquion Energy. They’ll hook you up thanks to their patented Aqueous Hybrid Ion battery technology. The cool thing about their battery is it’s based on the saltwater battery, a technology that’s 200 years old.
Cambridge, United Kingdom
We often complain about the high cost of energy. We forget that there are 600 million people who don’t even have access to electricity. That’s where Azuri comes in. Their innovated product is the PayGo solar system. Popular in sub Saharan Africa, PayGo allows users who live off the grid to use a small and portable solar power system to have lights at night and a place to charge their cell phone. It may not sound like much but it’s cheaper and safer than the kerosene lamps it replaces and cheaper and more convenient then having to walk someplace to charge a cell phone.
BrightSource Energy is an environmental friendly energy producer. What makes them so inventive is how they produce energy. Their proprietary solar thermal energy system uses mirrors, or heliostats, to direct the sun’s energy to a boiler full of water sitting on top of a tower. The water is heated to create steam. That steam is either used in a turbine to create electricity or for other industrial applications.
Employee standing in front of heliostats at BrightSource’s solar thermal facility in the Negev Desert of Israel. Photo courtesy of Steve Jurvetson.
Clean Energy Collective
Thanks to Clean Energy Collective you can OWN part of a local clean power plant. CEC builds, operates, and maintains the facility but you reap the savings. They can do all this because they’ve lowered the cost of clean energy and can calculate members’ credits using their proprietary RemoteMeter system. They’ll build a power system that suits your community’s needs whether it’s biomass, geothermal, micro-hydro, solar, or wind.
Congratulations to Comverge for winning TMCnet’s 2014 Smart Grid Product of the Year award. They deserve it. Comverge helps utilities and facility owners manage their energy consumption. In the process they help those entities save a lot of money. They do so by using “demand response solutions.” It’s built on the idea that you can save money and have reliability with your current energy supply.
Greenwood Village, Colorado
Cool Planet is all about designing and developing sustainable products for food, water, and energy. That’s why they have trademarked hydrocarbon products like Cool Terra and Cool Fauna. These products do a variety of Earth-friendly things like improve soil health, reduce the leaching of nitrogen, increase fertilizer efficiency, and provide nutrition for livestock.
Durham, North Carolina
Launched in March of 2013, Cree has “inspired the LED revolution.” They’ve created LED lights that are of high quality, last a long time, and consume low amounts of energy. For most companies that would be more than enough, but not for the innovators at Cree. They want to create a new lighting experience, something they call “Better Light.” They’re going to do it with sensors, software, and algorithms.
E4E Solutions constantly figures out innovative ways to save energy and the environment. You can go to them for help in both design and engineering. Don’t forget that they have engineers licensed in 15 states. They aim to be the leader in renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency, and conservation. E4E has worked with industries, governments, and utilities.
Elevance Renewable Sciences
Elevance produces C10 Methyl Ester, C10 Renewable Olefin, and C18 Diacid—not exactly stuff you can pick up at Target. Basically, Elevance uses their proprietary technology to take vegetable oils and turn them into renewable chemicals that have a plethora of industrial uses. That proprietary technology we mentioned, it won a Nobel Prize.
A lot of the companies on our list are focused on big buildings—the type owned by businesses and governments. Energy Logic is focused on the home. They want to build a future where each home has the smallest carbon footprint possible. To that end, they’ll do just about anything under the sun including developing innovative software and providing cutting-edge training.
It’s all about the microinverters. Solar panels generate DC electricity and inverters turn that into AC electricity, the kind of electricity your house uses. Hitherto, inverters have been large and expensive. So there was only one per home (or business). Enphase makes a microinverter which allows the home owner (or business owner) to put an inverter on each panel. The proliferation of inverters makes solar energy far more efficient.
Ensyn produces renewable liquid fuels and chemicals. Their most innovated technology is turning wood biomass into a high-value liquid product. They can turn about 75 percent of wood biomass into fuel. The rest is turned into a combustible gas or char. This high-value liquid product has a number of uses including renewable fuel and petroleum upgrading.
Enviva is the world’s largest producer of wood pellets. Most of these wood pellets are sold to European power plants that burn them, but not coal, to produce electricity. In this way, Enviva is helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make the world a better place. They also believe in sustainability. To that end, their plants can’t handle large logs (the kind from old growth forest), just small logs and debris that would otherwise be burned or left behind.
Newport, South Wales
G24 Power makes GCell or dye sensitized solar cells (DSSC). This is basically the latest and greatest solar technology, or as G24 likes to brag, it’s as close as humanity has ever come to “replicating nature’s photosynthesis.” The GCell has a bunch of applications including a solar power keyboard folio for the iPad and a solar power eReader.
General Biomass creates “advanced industrial enzymes.” These enzymes “convert nonfood cellulosic feedstocks to sugars.” We have no idea what we just wrote but it sounds innovative and it definitely sounds green. Apparently, the “sugars” we mentioned earlier are used for stuff like sustainable packaging and biofuels. Here’s what’s easy to understand: General Biomass is the leading trendsetter in the field of advanced biotechnology.
The Industrial Revolution has been a lot of fun but it has pumped a bit too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. As we all know, CO2 is not good for our environment. Global Thermostat wants to help our environment with their CO2 capture and use technology. Their device draws CO2 directly from the air—it’s like a scrubber on steroids. It’s cheap, easy to use, a breeze to integrate, and can be placed just about anywhere.
Green Charge Networks
Santa Clara, California
Green Charge Networks helps businesses save money on electricity by exploiting the way utilities bill their customers. Utilities use peak demand (when your business is drawing the most electricity) in determining how much it’s going to charge. GCN, and its Greenstation, evens out electricity usage so your business is always drawing the same amount of juice. When that happens, electricity bills go down.
Harvest wants to live in a world where resources are harvested not wasted. That’s why Harvest is a leading innovated in turning food and yard waste into energy and fertilizer. They use anaerobic digestion to turn table scraps and lawn debris into energy as well as fertilizers, mulches, and soils. They developed three of the continent’s largest commercial anaerobic digestion facilities.
Santa Barbara, California
Ice Energy is a real cool company. They make the Ice Bear. The Ice Bear is a “smart ice battery” that seamlessly attaches to a home or business’ HVAC system. At night, the ice bear freezes water. Then during the day, when electricity use is at its peak, the ice is used to cool the home or business. Bottom line, the Ice Bear helps a home or business save money on their energy costs.
Imprint Energy is the company that gave the world “ZincPoly,” a zinc-based rechargeable battery. Thanks to Imprint, high energy, rechargeable, zinc-based batteries can be made ultrathin and flexible. Best of all, they are completely safe and affordable. Interesting side note, ZincPoly was designed at the University of California, Berkeley.
Oneonta, New York
Ioxus doesn’t make batteries. They make the things that use batteries use less energy so batteries will last longer. That includes making hybrid electric vehicles more efficient. To be precise, Ioxus makes ultra-capacitors, modules, and thincap cells. The company recently received the prestigious best practices award from Frost & Sullivan.
At Lehigh Technologies the rubber hits the road, or to put more precisely, the shredder. This inventive energy company produces a product called “micronized rubber powders” or MRP. It’s made from old tires. MRP replaces oil and rubber in certain products. Lehigh takes what is tantamount to garbage and turns it into a sustainable, environmentally friendly, high-value product.
Santa Clara, California
Miasolé makes solar cells, but not just any solar cells. The Santa Clara company makes flexible solar cells. Yes, that’s right their solar cells bend and twist. Also, they won’t break and they can fit around curved structures. They are perfect for metal and low-slope roofs. On top of all that, Miasolé’s solar cells are powerful.
New York City
Move Systems is innovating a very specific but vital part of our lives and that’s the food cart. They aim to make green, safe, and attractive vending units. They want to get rid of propane tanks and noisy generators and replace them with their own hybrid power systems. They have three types of power systems: battery, solar, and natural gas. So the next time you order a hot dog from a food cart vendor you might have Move Systems to thank for it.
Palo Alto, California
Nest makes motion and sound activated cameras. They also make smoke and carbon detectors. They’re on our list, however because they manufacture a smart thermostat. Nest boasts that independent studies show its thermostat can save households up to 12 percent on heating bills and up to 15 percent on cooling bills. You can control it over WIFI and it turns down the heat or air when no one is home.
New Flyer is all about quality, innovation, and buses. They are known for developing the first diesel-electric bus and the first zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell fleet. More recently they’ve introduced North America’s first mid-sized transit bus and a prototype for an all-electric bus. New Flyer believes in sustainability and tries to be as nice to environment as they can.
Ocean Renewable Power Company
Ocean Renewable Power Company aims to use the currents of rivers and oceans to provide clean, predictable electricity. The industry term for what they specialize in is “hydrokinetic power systems.” Their proprietary turbine generator unit, or TGU, captures the kinetic energy of moving bodies of water. Dams do the same thing but TGUs are much better for the environment. ORPC is the first, and so far only, company that has successfully delivered power to a utility grid that was harnessed from ocean waves.
North Andover, MA
One of the early problems with roof-top solar panels was installation. PanelClaw has work hard to eliminate the difficulty of installing PV panels. They did so with the help of an engineer who designed the solar mounting panels on the Hubble Telescope! Their product line includes the Polar Bear III, the Polar Bear East/West (both are designed for roofs), and the Panda Bear (designed for the ground). Both the Polar and Panda are made in the U.S.A.
Plug Smart can help your business save money on energy costs. They’re called an “energy service company” and they’re known for their creativity, work ethic, and professionalism. No project is too big and no project is too challenging for the ingenious Plug Smart team. They are also fast and affordable. If you feel like your business is spending too much on energy call Plug Smart.
Want an option to conventional petroleum? Well, if you live in California or Washington State you have one thanks to Propel Fuels. The company owns, constructs, and runs green fueling stations. These stations offer customers a renewable fuel that’s high performing and of a premium quality. To find a Propel Fuel station visit their website.
A truck filling up at a Propel Fuels station. Photo courtesy of Chris LaPlante.
Proterra likes to say they are the future of transportation. We like to say it too. Their trademarked Catalyst platform is 500% more fuel-efficient than your typical bus. They have demonstrated that their buses can drive up 700 miles in a 24-hour period. Their buses reduce costs, produce no emissions, and are silent (for the most part). They don’t add to a city’s air or noise pollution problems.
Proterra’s EcoRide BE35 “Ecoliner” parked in LaVerne, California. Photo courtesy of George.
Protix produces protein. They do so by harnessing the power of nature. That’s a fancy way of saying Protix is an insect farm. Insect farms are not new, but Protix’s livestock are grown in controllable, scalable, and stable environments. What is this protein used for? It’s used to feed livestock and fish. In case you were wondering, a protein shake made from milk or eggs would taste the same as one made from Protix’s protein. Only the latter would have more protein.
King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
The evolution of cellulosic sugars has a name and that name is Renmatix. Renmatix uses their innovated and proprietary “Plantrose Process” to break down non-food biomass and they break them down without major consumables. Ultimately, what Renmatix creates will be used by third parties as an alternative to fossil fuels. Renmatix is a leader in renewable chemistry.
You know how commercial spaces, public areas, and industrial complexes are switching over to LED lighting? Well, Sensity Systems wants to enhance the conversion by adding sensors and networking to the LEDs. This will create what they call “Light Sensory Networks.” These networks can then be used for a variety of reasons, everything from security to weather monitoring to analytics to lighting optimization.
Silver Spring Network
Redwood City, California
Silver Spring Network creates technology that allows utilities to connect, manage, and optimize smart energy and smart infrastructure. To put it another way, they make it possible for people to operate energy-using devices over the internet. They have already connected 22 million devices. When you hear pundits talk about “modernizing the grid” they’re actually talking about what Silver Spring Network is doing.
San Mateo, California
SolarCity is largest solar power provider in the U.S. One of the keys to their success is they do everything, and by everything we mean everything. From permits to financing to monitoring for efficiency, SolarCity takes care of it all. Unfortunately, they don’t offer solar power to every part of the country…yet.
A SolarCity truck on a less than ideal day for solar power. Photo courtesy of Mike Mozart.
Scotts Valley, California
Soliculture’s unique and cutting edge technology is a solar panel that absorbs green light and emits red light. The red light is use by plants. The light the plants don’t use is harvested by another solar panel. This brilliant technology is based on the fact that plants don’t absorb green light as well as they absorb red. In the future, all greenhouses will be energy producers.
This pioneering company makes flexible and reliable ultra-lightweight solar panels on a large scale. In 2014, Solo Power made Portland, Oregon home of their ground-breaking manufacturing process. Their main customers are commercial and government buildings and their main products are the SP1 and SP3 LPV modules. As far as installation goes, Solo Power doesn’t like to make holes—instead of screwing the panels into your roof they use adhesives.
The SonnenBatterie is a household storage system for clean energy. This means clean energy is available whenever you need it. What makes the SonnenBatterie so innovative is it’s connected to other SonnenBatterie users. SonnenBatterie users share clean energy. Even better, you can join the community without producing clean energy. Here’s more good news: the units are sleek, clean, and definitely NOT an eye sore.
Raleigh, North Carolina
A study by Yale says visibility is the chief factor in people accepting solar panels. Before Spotlight Solar came along, solar panels were pretty ugly. Spotlight Solar has since turned solar panels into works of art by making them look like trees. In fact, you can even stand underneath them for shade. Their four major designs are the Curve, Lift, Trestle, and Industry—they range from one to four panels respectively.
Two “Lift” designs from Spotlight Solar installed at Sandy Grove Middle School in Lumber Bridge, North Carolina. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.
Stem will you save money by lowering your company’s energy bill. How do they do this? Do they just unplug the vending machines at night? No, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Stem employs intelligent energy storage, data, and predictive analytics to decrease energy use. They’ll do it by learning your company’s “energy profile” and without affecting operations. Stem is innovating the way energy is consumed and distributed.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
You want to use solar power but there isn’t a solar farm for miles. Thanks to Sunport, solar power is now as close as your pocket. Sunport is “the world’s first smart grid solar delivery device.” It looks like the plugin for your iPhone (only a bit larger) and comes in four colors. You plug it into an outlet and then plug your device into the Sunport. The Sunport measures the amount of energy you use and matches it with solar power. It’s great for computers, tablets, and recharging your smart phone.
Your company wants to update their lighting fixtures but there’s a problem. All the efficient lighting technology is manufactured to be one-size-fits-all and is not appropriate for your business’ needs. No worries because that’s where ThinkLite comes in. They specialize in making custom, energy efficient lighting systems for commercial, industrial, and government buildings as well as hotels and restaurants. They call it “mass customization.”
Trevis Systems is famous for their forward-osmosis desalination. Getting the salt out of water used to consume a lot of energy and was very expensive. That’s because companies used “reverse-osmosis technologies.” Well, not anymore. Due to Trevis Systems’ innovated desalination process, there is a better and cheaper way to get clean drinking water from salt water.
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