Northwest Energy Angels Summer Showcase Draws 11 Startups Determined to Make a Greener World
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by selling referrals to utility conservation programs and energy and retrofitting contractors. Its latest project, Utah Home Performance, a consumer interface for homeowners across the state of Utah, rolled out on July 1.
—Farm Power Northwest (Skagit County, WA)
This startup is a very different kind of cleantech company—they’re in the business of manure. Farm Power develops, owns, and operates manure digester facilities that harness renewable energy out of the miles upon miles of backcountry dairy farms across Washington and Canada. The company just received a $1 million grant and, according to company representative Nick Ridgeway, is amidst plans to expand to Oregon. “Not only do they like Oregon’s overall potential, but Tillamook’s abundant supply of manure!” he joked.
—Full Circle Farm (Carnation, WA)
Although not necessarily a technology company, Full Circle Farms is in the clean energy space in terms of agriculture, which is a major industrial contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Full Circle combines the tenets of local agriculture—operating its own farms and working with other regional organic farmers to provide produce not available in Washington—with e-commerce distribution. The company brings “the farmers market right to your door,” delivering 7,500 boxes of food to 12,000 customers in Alaska and western Washington every week, according to Full Circle representative Frank Paganelli. The company, which plans to move into new and emerging markets, currently pulls in $15 million in revenues annually.
—GR Green Building Products (Burnaby, British Columbia)
GR Green is one of the younger startups on the list. The Canadian company builds high quality green roofing and siding products made out of 100 percent recycled plastic (derived from old grocery bags, milk cartons, and other wasted plastic products) and limestone. “They’re cheap, they look great, and they’re exceptionally green,” said president and CEO Geoff Wensel. GR Green has patents pending in the US, Canada, Mexico, Europe, and a few more selected countries, with hopes of gaining 2.5 percent of the $1.5 billion roofing market. “We have the potential to become a $300 million company in 10 years,” Wensel said.
—GCL Solar (Hong Kong, China and Richland, WA)
Though headquartered in China, GCL Solar operates its U.S. research and development center out of Richland, WA. GCL, the third largest polysilicon and water manufacturer in the world, is focusing much of its R&D on next-generation solar technologies, including sapphire crystals, the technology behind LED lights, which chief technical officer John Hamilton called “the next generation of low-energy lighting.” Currently the company has 5.5 gigawatts of solar farms in operation, and is planning to develop another 500 megawatts this year.
—Green Lite Motors (Portland, OR)
The only car company represented at the showcase, Green Lite Motors, is developing a vehicle with ability to go 100 miles on a gallon of gas. The compact design of the car, at just four feet wide, allows for a lighter body that stabilizes by leaning like a motorcycle. It’s designed to be easy to park, provide maximum energy efficiency, while being large and fast enough to drive on the freeway. President and CEO Tim Miller showed off the early-stage prototype—which looks like a cross between a Smart car and a golf cart—at the showcase. The company is currently working with angel investors to raise the funds necessary to develop the body design.
—Hydrovolts (Seattle, WA)
This company was the first startup to join the cleantech accelerator at the McKinstry Innovation Center when it opened back in May. Hydrovolts develops small hydrokinetic turbines to harness untapped energy from controlled flowing waterways, such as artificial canals. And because of the size of the turbines, they are affordable and easy to ship and install, helping to bring clean water power to rural areas around the world—from irrigation canals here in Washington to rivers in India. The tagline founder and CEO Hurt Hamner boasts is “hydropower in an hour.” Last year Hydrovolts won the National Sustainability Award at the Clean Tech Open, and was awarded $50,000 from the Zino Green Fund. The company is currently in the process of completing its Series A round of funding.
—InvenTyS Thermal Technologies (Burnaby, British Columbia)
InvenTyS is an example of one of those cleantech companies that’s slipped under our radar up until this point. The Canadian company is developing carbon capture and storage technologies that will be able to take CO2 from smokestacks and use it for a number of other applications, including oil recovery. “We have a solution to take the CO2 out of coal plants,” said co-founder Brett Henkel, noting that while most energy in the Pacific Northwest is derived from hydropower, many other places could benefit from carbon capture. InvenTyS recently received a $2.2 million grant from the Canadian government and is about to close on a $3.5 million financing round, according to Henkel.