Sundrop Fuels, a Colorado startup is trying to commercialize a process that uses the sun to gasify biomass, instead of burning a portion of the biomass itself to drive the gasification process. The technology is based on research carried out at the University of Colorado, Boulder, with help from NREL. The company believes the syngas from its process can be produced affordably in high enough quanity and quality that it could be refined into gasoline for less than $2 a gallon. One obvious hitch is the fact that the best place to harness and concentrate solar heat is in the U.S. Southwest — not exactly the place you’d go to look for surplus biomass resources. BTW: Sundrop is operating largely in stealth mode, and counts Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as one of its venture backers.
On the topic of solar, Ontario’s feed-in-tariff program is gaining momentum. On Wednesday the province’s power authority announced the latest batch of projects to be approved under the program — these ones in the 10 kw to 500 kw range. A few surprises: Loblaw Group of Companies, the grocery giant, has applied to have 136 of its stores across Ontario rigged with solar PV systems. If all go ahead, it would amount to 21 megawatts just for this one grocery chain. Loblaw is starting with four pilot projects and will move forward from there depending on the results. Surprisingly, Northland Power Income Fund will be doing the installations.
There also appears to be quite a few schools putting solar on their rooftops, most of the projects being handled by Ameresco. The other big player in this initial round is OZZ International Inc., which has been approved to move forward on several dozen projects across the province.
All this momentum continues to lure foreign manufacturers and new business models to Ontario. Most recently SMA Solar Technology AG of Germany said it was establishing a 500-megawatt a year solar inverter production facility in the province that would serve the Canadian market. They join Korean’s Samsung, India’s Solar Semiconductor, Germany’s Bosch and potentially Denmark’s Vestas.