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

3/4/09Follow @xconomy

(Updated) Yesterday, we provided a rundown of about 80 companies we identified in Washington as players in the alternative energy industry. Today, it’s Oregon’s turn.

For those who missed the first installment, here’s the idea: We thought it would be useful for people across the Northwest (and elsewhere) to have a detailed list of who’s who in cleantech across Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. Given that President Obama and the U.S. Congress were elected on a pledge to break the country’s addiction to oil, lots of entrepreneurial ambition is being channeled into a new generation of clean energy ideas.

We sought to define the list broadly, including innovative developers of biofuels, solar power, wind, energy storage, as well as smart-grid applications for conservation. We left out other environmentally-themed businesses like green builders, architects, consultants, makers of biodegradable plastics, or people who install or sell things like solar panels.

We count 36 companies, big projects, or organizations involved in alternative energy in a significant way in Oregon—with particular strengths in solar and wind energy. Some of these may boom, but most will likely bust. This isn’t a comprehensive list, so if you know of any companies we’ve overlooked, or you know of companies that have come or gone, please shoot us a note at editors@xconomy.com. Enjoy!

American Clean Coal Fuels (Portland, OR). This company uses gasification to turn biomass, municipal garbage, coal, or other carbon-based feedstocks into syngas that can be made into alternative fuels. It has a project near Oakland, IL, designed to convert 4.3 million tons a year of coal and biomass into 400 million gallons a year of synthetic diesel fuel and jet fuel.

Brammo (Ashland, OR). This company, founded in 2002, makes plug-in electric motorcycles.

Clean Edge (Portland, OR). This consulting firm has been analyzing the cleantech industry since 2000.

ClearEdge Power (Hillsboro, OR). This company makes and markets what it calls CE5 home fuel cell heating systems that reduce carbon dioxide emissions for homes and small businesses.

EcoSpeed (Portland, OR). This company makes and sells electric-assist devices for bicycles. As part of its marketing pitch to get people out of their cars, EcoSpeed’s devices offer a range of up to100 miles, with cruising speeds of 20 to 25 miles per hour, even uphill.

Everpower Renewables (Portland, OR). This company develops wind power projects in Oregon and the northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S. It’s headquartered in New York.

FirstPoint Energy (Beaverton, OR). This company uses Web-based programs to help utilities collect and manage data on energy usage, including products that allow access to daily consumption data.

Green Lite Motors (Portland, OR). This company is developing a commuter vehicle which has the stability, safety, and comfort of a car, combined with the parking ease, express lane privileges, and fun of a motorcycle, according to this item from the Oregon Entrepreneurs’ Network blog.

Greenwood Resources (Portland, OR). This company aims to grow poplar trees as feedstock for cellulosic ethanol, saying these trees need less fertilizer and energy to produce than traditional row crops.

Horizon Wind Energy (Portland, OR). This company is based in Houston, TX, and has a Portland office. Its Portuguese-owned parent company, Energias de Portugal, ranks third in the U.S. in wind energy capacity.

Iberdrola Renewables (Portland, OR). This company has a portfolio of renewable energy generation facilities, including wind, solar, and natural gas. Its customers include Puget Energy and Portland General Electric.

InEnTec (Bend, OR). This company, which has technology roots in the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and MIT, is using high-temperature gasification to turn municipal garbage into ethanol. It said in October that it got a $150 million equity commitment from Chicago-based Lakeside Energy to build a gasification plant to turn chemical waste into renewable fuel at a Dow Corning facility in Midland, MI.

Micro Power Electronics (Beaverton, OR). This company makes more than 1,000 different battery systems, including lithium-ion batteries. Its battery packs and chargers are designed to help medical and military products run longer on a charge, reduce charging time, and decrease their size and weight.

Nth Power (San Francisco and Portland, OR). This cleantech venture fund, one of the nation’s first to specialize in the field, was founded in 1997 by Nancy Floyd, who is based in Portland. She spoke last summer about cleantech at the Democratic National Convention.

NuScale Power (Corvallis, OR). Like the name suggests, this company operates a small nuclear power plant. The company spun out of federally-funded research at Oregon State University to improve natural circulation for cooling nuclear power plants. The reactor and containment vessel are completely submerged in a water-filled pool underground, providing a low-profile target in the wake of post 9/11 security concerns, the company says.

Oregon Iron Works (Clackamas, OR). This company manufactures devices to capture energy from ocean waves.

OVP Venture Partners (Portland, OR and Kirkland, WA). Managing director Gerry Langeler is based in Portland, and oversees the firm’s cleantech investments. He sits on boards of cleantech companies in Seattle, San Francisco, and Boise, ID, although he says he’s still looking for the right opportunity in Oregon. (Editor’s Note: This entry was added March 5)

Pacific Ethanol (Sacramento, CA and Portland, OR). This company (NASDAQ: PEIX) says its goal is to be the leading marketer of low-carbon renewable fuels in the Western U.S. The company has run into financial trouble, and has had to shut down operations at two 60 million gallon-a-year ethanol factories in Burley, ID, and Stockton, CA.

Peak Sun Silicon (Salem, OR). This company was founded by John Schumacher, who founded the Schumacher company as a supplier of chemicals and equipment to the semiconductor industry. The new endeavor aims to make more efficient polysilicon that turns sunlight into electricity.

Perpetua Power Source Technologies (Corvallis, OR). This company makes thermoelectric generators that convert temperature differences across different materials into electricity.

Pivotal Investments Fund (Portland, OR). This venture firm seeks to invest cleantech companies in the early stages of development in the Northwest. Pivotal has three managing directors: Gregory Semler, Bradley Zenger, and John Miner. (Editor’s Note: This entry was added March 5)

PowerMand (Portland, OR). This company offers technology to monitor and control energy use for utilities, and renewable suppliers. It also has a product, DreamWatts, that enables customers to reduce peak demand electricity usage in homes and small businesses.

PV Powered (Bend, OR). The company has made inverters for the solar photovoltaic market since 2004. In September, it said it was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy for a contract worth as much as $5 million to help lower the lifetime cost of solar electricity, and improve reliability.

Repower Systems (Portland, OR). This company, founded in Germany in 2001, came to Oregon in 2007 “to take advantage of Portland’s proximity to the growing wind industry in the Pacific Northwest and western United States,” according to its website.

Renewable Energy Systems (Portland, OR). This British-owned company (RES) is planning, along with Bellevue, WA-based Puget Energy, to develop and build the Lower Snake River Wind Energy Project in southeastern Washington.

Sanyo (Salem, OR). This Japan-based firm said in September it is investing $80 million to build a new plant in Salem to make silicon ingots and solar wafers for photovoltaic cells. The new factory is supposed to start operations in October.

SeQuential Biofuels (Portland, OR). This company, founded in 2002, markets biodiesel and ethanol blends to businesses, governments, and individual consumers at filling stations across Oregon.

Serveron (Hillsboro, OR). This company, now part of BPL Global, makes smart-grid products and services that monitor changes in performance of generators, transmitters, and distribution equipment. It was formerly called Micromonitors.

Shepherd’s Flat Wind Farm (near Arlington, OR). When completed, this site in north central Oregon will be the world’s largest onshore wind farm, according to the Portland Business Journal.

Solaicx (Portland, OR). Headquartered in Santa Clara, CA, this company is developing lower-cost, high-efficiency silicon wafers for the solar photovoltaic industry.

Solar Nation (Portland, OR). This company is a developer of solar energy technologies, from rooftop photovoltaic systems to ground-mounted solar panel arrays, for government agencies, businesses, and nonprofits. [This entry was added Dec. 9---Eds.]

SolarWorld (Hillsboro, OR). This company acquired the Komatsu silicon wafer production facility in Hillsboro for $40 million in 2007 and is investing more than $400 million to renovate the plant. It is intended to be North America’s largest solar-cell manufacturing plant, converting raw silicon into photovoltaic wafers. It is expected to employ more than 1,000 by the end of its ramp up phase in 2009.

SpectraWatt (Hillsboro, OR). This company was formed in June 2008 through a spinoff of assets from Intel. The company, which got $50 million in investment from Intel Capital, Goldman Sachs, and others, makes and markets photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into electricity.

Trillium FiberFuels (Corvallis, OR). This company is developing technology to convert cellulosic feedstock into ethanol. It draws its name from a combination of the scientific names for wheat and ryegrass.

UpWind Solutions (Medford, OR). This company serves wind project developers and owners, through remote control and monitoring, preventive maintenance, and repairs.

Vulcan Power Company (Bend, OR). This company got $145 million in investment from Denham Capital in July 2008. The money will go toward developing and running geothermal power plants in the Western U.S. It was founded in 1991, and has amassed geothermal leases and applications on more than 160,000 acres.

XsunX (Wood Village, OR). This company, with corporate offices in Aliso Viejo, CA, is developing thin film photovoltaics which it says are cheaper and more efficient at absorbing sunlight than existing silicon wafers.

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