Tuesday, February 9, 2010

RETECH 2010: Cool renewable energy on display despite advancing “Snowmaggedon”

With the Washington, D.C. area bracing for a truly major snowstorm, crowds were smaller at the last day of RETECH 2010 than the first two days. But there was still lots of exciting and innovative renewable energy technology on display at the show.

Perhaps the most unusual was a corkscrew-like device known as the ECO-Auger, which is designed to draw power from tidal inlets and which was awarded the 2009 ConocoPhillips Energy Prize (from among 175 entrants). A major advantage of devices that draw on tides is that the energy they generate is very predictable because the tide always flows at a steady rate, says Scott Anderson, who invented the ECO-Auger and is CEO of Smart Product Innovations, Inc. (www.smartproductinnovations.com). In addition – and this is unique to his device because of its design, he says – fish flow through unharmed rather than being chewed up by blades.

Right next to the ECO-Auger exhibit were two interesting-looking, innovative solar energy devices made by Timber Rock Energy Solutions (www.timberrockes.com). The first is the EverGreen Oasis, a platform mounted on poles on which solar panels are then arrayed. The structure is cheaper, easier to install and more versatile – it also provides shaded work or play-space – than traditional roof-mounted photovoltaic panels, says Brent Hollenbeck, founder and CEO. Timber Rock’s PV Trees are turnkey, highly portable, solar-powered generators that can power a job site or provide power in remote areas without relying on a fossil fuel source.

Next was a device that uses solar power to produce clean water, and is currently being used to provide this absolutely vital resource to thousands of refugees in Haiti. DynGlobal (www.DynGlobal.net) has donated four of its DG 24/7 portable, solar-powered water filtration systems – each of which can purify 6,500 gallons of water a day – to the stricken nation, and plans to send at least one more. DG filtration systems remove 99.99% of heavy metals as well as other harmful substances, its literature says, and the company produces a full range of water purification systems.

Suniva (www.suniva.com) says its photovoltaic cells provide higher efficiency and more power at less cost than its competitors, and that its cells are all manufactured in the U.S., with 90% of its “Powered by Suniva” modules also produced here. Suniva says its goal is to reduce the cost of P.V.-generated energy to match that of conventional grid power.

Japan-based Nikko (www.nikko-company.co.jp) makes small wind turbines, including the 1 KW model that was on display at RETECH and which Nikko plans to launch in the U.S. this summer. (It’s already in use in Japan.) The turbine features a coreless generator that starts the blades spinning and producing power at very low speed (5.6 mph), and the blades also adjust to capture wind at the most efficient angle, thereby maximizing efficiency.

There were also a number of related businesses at RETECH, such as the Reznick Group (www.reznickgroup.com), which provides tax, accounting and business advice on renewable energy from 10 offices across the U.S. With renewable energy such a relatively new industry in the U.S., it’s difficult to know all the tax advantages and angles related to renewable energy, especially since these vary depending on the state as well as the type of energy, and it’s the job of companies such as the Reznick Group to make this task easier for consumers and businesses.

make green a reality!


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