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U.S. Department of Energy Boosts Solar Desalination Innovation with $15M Competition

Across the globe, 1.6 billion people struggle with access to clean potable water that is economically viable. The United States is not immune from water issues, as a projected 40 states will face shortage in the next decade.

Just this past week, amid a worsening drought across the Western U.S., the Bureau of Reclamation released figures highlighting that the Colorado River Reservoirs are catastrophically low.

Desalination, one potential technological solution, has historically faced several challenges including high cost, energy requirements, and environmental concerns. Solar thermal desalination provides advantages to overcoming these challenges, as many of the geographic locations with water stress overlap with areas of high solar irradiation.

Pushing the cost of solar thermal desalination down, and getting this technology to commercial scale, is a steep but not insurmountable challenge. That’s why the U.S. Department of Energy is putting $15 million in prize money behind Phase 2 of the American-Made Solar Desalination Prize through the American-Made Challenges program.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) is seeking ideas that will accelerate the development of systems that use low-cost solar-thermal energy to produce clean water from very-high-salinity water, like water produced from oil and gas extraction. The clean water produced can be used in municipal, agricultural, and industrial applications. NREL program administrators recently held a webinar covering the official rules of the prize, which is structured in four phases. Each successive phase is more challenging than the last, with larger prizes and fewer competitors advancing.

Contest 1, Innovation, is open to the public and applications are due on July 15th through the prize forum. Quarterfinalists will be announced in September 2021 and receive $50,000 each. Contest winners will then continue to the next phases of the challenge and have the opportunity to win millions of dollars over the competition.

CEBN recently held a webinar featuring Sarah Gomach, a program administrator from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Gary Katz, Founder and CEO of Katz Water Technologies, and one of eight semifinalists from the first round of the Solar Desalination Prize, also spoke on the webinar. The full recording can be found below.

Sarah provided an overview of the prize and highlighted that DOE is looking for applications that are novel, technically feasible, and impactful.

Gary stressed the importance of securing third-party letters of support early and to “be honest in your proposal of what you need and where you are.” He continued, “DOE is not looking for a perfect solution. They want to help people take innovative ideas to the marketplace. Accurately explain where you are, what you need, and where you’re heading so they can make a real evaluation.”

In its capacity as a Power Connector for the American-Made Challenges program, CEBN works to spread awareness of challenges and assist applicants as they navigate the prize. If you are interested in applying to the Solar Desalination prize, reach out and let us know, and don’t forget to submit your applications by 3 pm ET on July 15th through the HeroX platform!

Additionally, to support the Round 1 semifinalists, CEBN is seeking potential teaming partners (particularly those with expertise on business development), investors, and experts for customer/market discovery. Please contact us if interested in learning more about ways to engage with teams.

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Young Cleantech Leaders Show the Future of Clean Energy is Bright

In July 1969, an estimated 650 million people watched the historic moon landing live on TV. Federal investments in the space program not only paid off with technological advances but also served to inspire many to pursue careers in STEM. The educational spillover effects of federal support for young people in scientific innovation was on full display this month, as 13 teams of undergraduate students competed in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Collegiate Wind Competition (CWC).

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CEBN is Seeking New Team Members

Are you an early career professional (or career changer) seeking interesting, meaningful work? Would you enjoy helping small businesses thrive, learning more about government policy and energy markets, and protecting the environment? If so, then you may be a great fit for the Clean Energy Business Network team!

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CEBN Congratulates FY21 SBIR/STTR Awardees

Last week, the Department of Energy announced 235 American small businesses were collectively awarded $54 million through the 2021 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

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Recording – Powering Forward 7: Environmental Justice and the Clean Energy Economy

The seventh installment of Powering Forward was held in partnership with Grove Climate Group. The webinar explored the growing discussion regarding how to best understand, acknowledge, and address the wide-ranging societal dimensions of the clean energy transition — with EJ issues in mind.

 

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Cleantech Innovators Bring their Energy to Congress to Boost RD&D

This spring, 42 clean energy business leaders within the CEBN participated in a flurry of advocacy meetings on clean energy research, development, and demonstration. The group pushed Congress to boost funding for clean energy RD&D programs across the Department of Energy in Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations.

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BCSE-CEBN Association Retirement Plan: Align Your Investments with Your Values

As we work to grow the clean energy economy, the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) and Clean Energy Business Network (CEBN) are always seeking ways to make business easier for our members. In 2021, we’re launching a new member benefit to make your 401(k) not only better, but also more sustainable through Environment-Social-Governance (ESG)-aligned investments.

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Capital for Climate: 11 Ways to Ruin an Investor Meeting

Biden campaigned on prioritizing climate change in his Administration, with an ambitious $2T plan to invest in clean energy and setting a target for a carbon-free electricity sector by 2035. It was no surprise then that the new Administration has taken swift action on clean energy and climate in its first days. CEBN has crafted a summary of the key personnel President Biden has chosen to implement his clean energy and climate agenda, along with the actions he has taken in his first few weeks in office.

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CEBN Launches “The Junction Box”—Clean Energy Stakeholder Dialogues

The Junction Box is a new initiative to tap into the collective ideas and energy of the clean energy community to spur innovative policy and business solutions. Just as a junction box brings together electrical wires in a safe enclosure, these events will bring together our collective synapses in a safe space for discussion on emerging ideas for our industry.

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Energy and Climate Actions in Biden’s first Weeks in Office

Biden campaigned on prioritizing climate change in his Administration, with an ambitious $2T plan to invest in clean energy and setting a target for a carbon-free electricity sector by 2035. It was no surprise then that the new Administration has taken swift action on clean energy and climate in its first days. CEBN has crafted a summary of the key personnel President Biden has chosen to implement his clean energy and climate agenda, along with the actions he has taken in his first few weeks in office.

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Summary of End-of-Year Spending, Tax, and Energy Legislation

On Monday, December 21, 2020 Congressional leaders announced they had reached an agreement on a $900 billion COVID relief bill. The agreement cleared the way to pass a $1.4 trillion “omnibus” package to fund federal operations through September 2021. Legislators also added several energy related bills to this must-pass legislation. A number of CEBN priorities were reflected in the package.

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Powering Forward Together through 2020

We are incredibly thankful to each and every one of you for enabling the CEBN to serve as the small business voice of the clean energy economy. After three years of partnering with the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, we are excited to celebrate an exciting milestone: 5,000 members!

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