U.S. Government Expands Incubator Service for Renewables

The U.S. Department of Energy has finished a major expansion of its incubator service to accelerate the development of U.S. renewable energy companies.

GOLDEN, Colorado, US, 2001-03-28 <SolarAccess.com> DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has added six incubators to the National Alliance of Clean Energy Business Incubators, which was formed by NREL last April. Member incubators focus on accelerating the growth of technology-based start-up companies in the clean energy sector, and the Alliance now teams NREL with seven business incubators and a network of venture capitalists and energy industry leaders to provide business and financial services to clean energy entrepreneurs. “Our goal is to work toward economic growth, enhanced energy reliability and security, and mitigation of energy’s impact on the environment,” explains Lawrence Murphy of NREL. “We can do that by helping companies succeed.” The objective of the incubators is to build companies that are sound investments, by linking technology companies with a network of investors, energy experts and industry leaders who can provide mentoring, financing and introductions to the global energy community. The Alliance will assist companies working on solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, microturbine, fuel cell, power quality, energy efficiency, alternative fuels and infrastructure and information technologies. The U.S. energy technology sector is showing significant growth, with venture investment rising from $400 million in 1999 to $1 billion last year, according to one official. Participating incubators include Austin Technology Incubator of Texas, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Incubator of New York, the State University of New York at Albany, the Environmental Business Cluster in California, the Florida/NASA Business Incubation Center, the Boston Technology Venture Center in Massachusetts, and the Advanced Technology Development Center at Georgia Tech. “Clean energy businesses offer great economic development potential for Texas,” says Dub Taylor of the Texas State Energy Conservation Office, the first state to partner with NREL. “The Alliance is perfectly timed to capitalize on this growing market.” Texas has an electric utility restructuring law that mandates 2,000 MW of new renewable energy generation by 2009, making it an attractive market for clean energy. Public interest in clean energy alternatives is high in California, and the energy crisis in that state has highlighted the importance of energy to the economy, as well as energy reliability and security and environmental quality, according to Jim Robbins of the Environmental Business Cluster in San Jose. The California Energy Commission allocated funds to support incubation of clean energy companies in that state. “Clean energy companies are poised to contribute solutions to these problems,” he explains. “The technologies are rapidly evolving and are, or soon will be, cost-competitive with conventional alternatives whose costs are rising.”

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