UNSW’s solar researchers have converted over 40% of the sunlight hitting a solar system into electricity, the highest efficiency ever reported. The world-beating efficiency was achieved in outdoor tests in Sydney, before being independently confirmed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) at their outdoor test facility in the United States.
That was the logic behind the company’s RE-C project, which aimed to produce one gigawatt of renewable electricity for less than the price of coal. The hope was to do this within years, not decades. Among other things, the company invested in new geothermal drilling R&D and put $168 million toward Brightsource’s Ivanpah solar tower in the Mojave Desert.
On the surface, the clean energy sector sounds like a promising place for startups. The reality is more complicated, with many clean tech startups burning through investment capital and struggling to identify marketable products. However, that isn’t stopping a number of organizations from awarding serious funding to highly innovative clean energy entrepreneurs.
A year ago, Charles Epstein called a company to come and change all the light bulbs in his Cromwell home. Workers caulked his drafty windows and sealed leaky door jams. It helped, but only so much. Epstein, in his late 60s, kept in the back of his mind that solar panels could be his next move.
Tucked away in the suburbs of Boston is Greentown Labs, a clean-tech incubator and shared work space that has grown from just three companies to nearly fifty promoting sustainable and clean energy solutions. Among these is a start-up called Altaeros Energies, which is pushing the boundaries of conventional wind power.