20 April 2012

Clean Tech Forum 2012 | Solazyme | Energy Policy | Mayor Ed Lee | UK Clean Tech Entrepreneurs

Jonathan Wolfson, Solazyme
By Mary Vincent - Follow on Twitter @MaryVincent

During Clean Tech Forum 2012 San Francisco, Jonathan Wolfson Co-Founder and CEO Solazyme said: "We need a long-term energy policy 15-20 years out - that's the only way we can succeed and really be successful in the renewable energy space. I don't know the path to get there but it needs to happen."

Solazyme pioneered an industrial biotechnology platform that harnesses the oil-producing ability of microalgae. They use standard industrial fermentation equipment to efficiently scale and accelerate the microalgae's natural oil production time to just a few days. Their platform is feedstock flexible and can utilize a wide variety of plant-based sugars, such as sugarcane-based sucrose, corn-based dextrose, and sugar from other biomass sources including cellulosics. By growing their proprietary microalgae in the absence of light using fermentation tanks to convert photosynthetic plant sugars into oil, they are in effect utilizing "indirect photosynthesis."

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee also received the “Cleantech Capital of North America” award on behalf of the city in a ceremony at Justin Herman Plaza on the City’s Embarcadero.
Here's an excerpt of Mayor Ed Lee's speech, and a video of his speech is below:

"We want to leave this city better than it is today.. I'm going to use my time to make sure that every aspect of the city whether its waste, compost recovery, energy efficiency, solar, or business itself  that we measure ourselves by how we've improved and that takes alot of effort.  You know when we're setting a goal that we want to be 80% below our 1990 levels by 2050, and that we're already today at 12%, that means alot of great effort. That means that when I get in my car every morning, even though it's a Chevy Volt now, that I can at least say the first 35 miles are without a drop of oil.. and I'm proud of that.  I'm proud of being part of that culture .. that the next step is to get to 100% and it is my job as part of the investor confidence is to make sure that we set the groundwork for the 100% electric vehicles so we don't use a drop of oil because ultimately that's going to save our planet; it's going to save our city."

The Cleantech Group cited many factors that contributed to the City’s recognition as the “Cleantech Capital of North America.”
* San Francisco is home to 208 cleantech companies and cleantech investors – one the largest and most concentrated cleantech clusters in the world. This number does not include cleantech partners, sustainable construction and other green companies.
* Eleven companies in the Cleantech Group’s Global Cleantech 100 have locations in San Francisco, the most of any city: Adura Technologies; AMEE; Harvest Power; Heliatek; Mission Motors; Nexant; OPower; Project Frog; RelayRides; SCIenergy; and SunRun. Seven of these cleantech firms are headquartered in San Francisco.
* In the San Francisco Bay Area, from 2006-2011, Cleantech companies raised $12 billion in venture capital and accounted for 640 deals – more than double the activity in the second most active metropolitan area – Boston.

Simon Daniel CEO Moixa & Mary Vincent
Sixteen of the UK’s most promising clean technology companies were in Silicon Valley as part of Clean and Cool Mission 2012.  This select group was visiting the U.S. to showcase unique green technologies and develop new business in the US by connecting with investors, customers, suppliers and partners.

The companies chosen for the mission were recognized as having high growth potential in Cleantech areas including energy storage, energy efficiency, and carbon reduction. 
The companies were selected for the entrepreneurial trade mission to San Francisco through a competition organized by the Technology Strategy Board, The Long Run Venture and the Cosponsorship Agency, supported by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and other private sector sponsors with the aim of opening up their businesses to the U.S. market.   
“What we’re trying to do with this mission is help companies that are ready to expand their operations in growing areas of clean technology, by going where the action is in Silicon Valley,” said Richard Miller, Technology Strategy Board’s Head of Sustainability.  “A lot of the money being invested in clean technology around the globe is coming from California and by taking people here they have a chance to pitch to investors, meet business partners and customers and find out the characteristics of  the market.” 
As well as helping to accelerate these UK cleantech businesses, other goals for the Clean and Cool Mission are to boost Britain’s growing clean technology sector and drive investment into the UK.  With more than $180 million USD raised in private finance by companies attending previous missions, and more than 20% of the selected companies now with a US subsidiary, it has proven to be a successful strategy. 

The winning companies were congratulated at a reception held on March 14th at the London Stock Exchange, home to more than 70 listed cleantech companies.

I had the opportunity to meet with the following people, and videos discussing their work are below.
* Richard Miller, UK Technology Strategy Board’s Head of Sustainability
* Simon Daniel CEO Moixa, a USB power company hoping to shift the world to more universal DC (Direct-Current) power for electronics and lighting. Its Smart DC system develops higher power (variable voltage) USB sockets that avoid wasteful AC/DC adaptors and its local DC networks make distributed battery storage viable for shifting demand to off-peak or renewable resources - providing valuable grid balancing services.
* Emma Gibson, Operations Manager Highview Power Storage

I enjoy meeting entrepreneurs and visionaries working to address the significant energy challenges we face. What are your thoughts on the technologies, government initiatives, and entrepreneurial initiatives in this article?