The Washington Cleantech Cluster: The A-to-Z List of Alternative Energy Players

3/3/09Follow @xconomy

(Updated) The venture capitalist John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers said three years ago that “greentech could be the largest economic opportunity of the 21st century.” Since then, voters in the U.S. have elected a President and Congress that have vowed to break the country’s addiction to oil. So here in the Northwest, a place with environmental awareness and entrepreneurial spirit, who will grab this historic opportunity?

We have been thinking a lot about this question as we prepare for the Xconomy energy event on March 26. But it has been hard to find a good, complete list of who’s who in cleantech across the Northwest—Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. So we made one of our own.

We defined the alternative energy industry broadly, including innovative developers of biofuels, solar power, wind, and energy storage, as well as technologies for hybrid vehicles and smart-grid applications and software for energy efficiency and conservation. We included a few venture capital firms that have a distinct focus on cleantech, as well as an occasional nonprofit. We left out other environmentally-themed businesses like green builders, architects, consultants, recyclers, makers of biodegradable plastics, or people who install or sell energy-related products like solar panels.

This list shows that unlike the computing industry, which gave rise to Silicon Valley as a global epicenter, the clean energy industry has so many different elements that no single city or region will become the capital for cleantech, says Ron Pernick, co-founder of Portland, OR-based consulting firm Clean Edge. “The clean energy sector is arising from dozens of nodes around the world,” he says. Still, his firm sees big opportunities in the Northwest in five main categories, which you can read more about here.

We found 83 companies aiming to take a leading role—some serious, some pretty quirky—in the move toward clean energy in Washington state alone. This alphabetical list isn’t comprehensive, and will fast be out of date, so if you know of any companies we missed, or who are just getting started, please shoot us a note at editors@xconomy.com. This week, we will also catalog Oregon’s cleantech cluster, and provide a rundown from British Columbia, so stay tuned.

Before diving in, I need to say thanks to all the sources who helped me put this list together. The Washington state Department of Community Trade and Economic Development; the Washington Clean Technology Alliance; Rick LeFaivre of OVP Venture Partners; Eric Gertsman of the University of Washington; Jane Shaw of the Canadian Consulate’s office in Seattle; Pernick of Clean Edge; Gary Spanner of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, WA; and Kim Zentz of SIRTI in Spokane, WA.

3Tier Group (Seattle). This company raised $10 million in venture capital in December to help developers and financiers identify the best places in the world to build renewable energy facilities.

Advantage IQ (Spokane). The company manages energy usage and greenhouse gas data on the Internet so companies can better conserve.

AFS Trinity Power (Medina, WA). This company says it has developed patent-pending technology to make plug-in electric hybrid cars get 150 miles a gallon, or go 40 miles in all-electric mode.

Alerton (Redmond). This company, part of Honeywell International’s Automation and Controls Group, says it was the first to pioneer ways to help building owners automatically control heating and cooling.

Alternative Energy Corp. (Lynnwood). This startup biodiesel maker got launched in 2008.

AltaRock Energy (Seattle). This company raised $26 million in August from Vulcan Capital and Google, among others, to create geothermal energy reservoirs rather than rely on having to discover natural heat-energy sources.

Apollo Sensor Technology (Kennewick). This division of Apollo Inc. is developing miniature hydrogen gas sensors that can be used for fuel, among other applications.

Arch Venture Partners (Seattle). This venture capital firm invests in alternative energy production, most notably San Diego-based Sapphire Energy, a developer of algae-based biofuels.

Areva T&D (Bellevue). This French firm is a global leader in energy transmission and distribution, and has operations in the Northwest. It is a major player in smart-grid technologies and services. (Editor’s Note: This entry was added March 5)

Arzeda (Seattle). This spinout from the University of Washington lab of biochemist David Baker we profiled recently has its sights on making designer enzymes that could someday make cellulosic biofuels feasible. … Next Page »

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