July 15, 2010


The other day I came across a charity here in London that is doing some amazing work. They're called SolarAid, and as their website suggests, they're working to combat two of the biggest threats facing humanity today -climate change, and global poverty.

Right now, two billion people have no access to electricity. They rely on burning fuels such as kerosene and wood for light and heat, which is highly toxic and expensive. Having solar power improves people's health, income and education. That's because solar power can enable people to cook food, pump clean water, run fridges, light homes, schools and hospitals, farm more effectively, and much more.

SolarAid carries out DIY solar projects - training local communities how to build small scale solar devices such as solar powered radios and lanterns - and installs small solar systems for community centres, medical clinics, schools and other such communal infrastructure.

There are numerous efforts across the globe to make big $$ from the next big thing in solar, wind, or biofuels. It is important not to forget how simple, cost effective cleantech solutions can make an immediate benefit to those that really need it the most.

Make your donation here.

LanzaTech Secures New Funding

It was a nice suprise to see a little piece of home in my feed reader this morning - LanzaTech, an Auckland-based Cleantech company, have raised $US18 million in a Series B financing round.

The funding comes from Qiming Ventures and Softbank China Venture Capital, and follows on from the Series A funding from K1W1 (a VC fund set up by Warehouse founder Sir Stephen Tindall), and Khosla Ventures (Vinod Khosla has recently visited NZ to speak at a conference I believe).

Lanzatech uses a proprietary bacteria to convert 'dirty' waste gases from industry into ethanol that can be used as a fuel. It has run a pilot plant scale development to prove the technology at the Glenbrook Steel Mill, out of Auckland, since 2007, and aims to have a pre-commercial scale plant built and active by 2011. The cool thing about this technology is that it can produce clean fuel and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of industry at the same time. Also, the feedstock is readily available (esp. in China!) and doesn't compete with food or crops like some ethanol feedstocks such as corn.

The pool of capital available in NZ for such investments has always been low. China will increasingly become an option for NZ companies looking for funding, especially in Cleantech - an area that China will need to invest heavily in if it is to clean up it's environmental problems.

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