Clean-Tech Leaders

A few of the clean-tech start-ups recognized at the Clean Energy Venture Summit include:

• AgiLight Holdings Inc., San Angelo: Solid-state lighting design and manufacturing company that focuses on light-emitting-diode lighting. The company focuses on two distinct markets: signage and architectural lighting, and microlighting. LED lights are said to use as little as 10% of the electricity of already-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs.

• AccuWater Inc., Austin: Offering Internet-based services to maximize landscape irrigation using landscape modeling and local weather conditions, resulting in significantly less water use. A 20-acre customer would see a return on investment in up to two years.

• Ausra Inc., Palo Alto, Calif.: Developing solar thermal power plants that use a new technology known as compact linear fresnel reflectors to harness sunlight and generate electricity using a steam boiler. Already building a 300-megawatt plant, Ausra intends to scale up to 2,000 megawatts over three years, enough to power 2 million homes.

• PCN Technology Inc., Santa Clara, Calif.: Specializes in data transmission subsystems to facilitate communication over power lines between customers' electric meters and utilities, and between utilities and the electric grid itself. PCN's technology would enable "smart" meters that offer utilities new information about customer needs, plus the ability to momentarily cycle off simultaneously running air conditioners at peak use times, a tactic that could offset the need for an entire new power plant, if implemented statewide.

• Microstaq, Bellingham, Wash.: Manufactures microelectric mechanical systems coupled with a silicon valve that substantially improves efficiency in HVAC systems. In automobile applications, Microstaq claims 4-mile-per-gallon improvements, and in buildings, they tout 30% gains in efficiency.

• TekSUN PV Manufacturing Inc., Austin: Planning to build the world's largest solar farm (or solar power plant) in the West Texas desert. Texas Solar One, as the plant would be called, will cover 850 acres and will purportedly be capable of producing 100 megawatts of energy, enough to power 80,000 homes. The plant is expected to cost $400 million to $500 million, but developers believe its virtually nonexistent fuel and maintenance costs will allow it to offer competitively priced energy upon completion and throughout its 25-year lifespan. TekSUN is finalizing the siting of its manufacturing plant in Taylor, which will produce photovoltaic solar panels for the plant (and for commercial sale) using a production line built by Applied Materials, a semiconductor equipment manufacturer with operations in Austin – a deal first publicized during the summit.

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