Innovating to Meet Energy Demand

This week we’re featuring news on energy, including breakthroughs from innovators and commentary on how this type of innovation is needed to meet the growing energy demand in Africa.

A quiet breakthrough in geothermal power tech” by Katie Fehrenbacher on GigaOM
As we frequently mention on this blog, we like to keep tabs on innovation breakthroughs in renewable energy. Although we haven’t invested in a geothermal tech, we like to learn about those who are experimenting and tapping into the promise of next generation breakthroughs. AltaRock Energy is one venture-backed startup that is getting close commercializing its next-gen “engineered” geothermal technology that’s piloting in Bend, Oregon. Commercializing this geothermal technology would enable many countries to significantly increase their dependency on clean power, as geothermal is a constant power source unlike wind or solar.

Plugged in to Progress with Geothermal Energy in Kenya” by Christopher Neal of The World Bank on Renewable Energy World
Only 16% of Kenyans have access to energy (for our post on energy in Kenya, see here). There are several initiatives in place to increase use of renewables in the country. Geothermal energy, in particular, has significant potential in Kenya due to the widespread availability of the natural resource beneath East Africa’s Rift Valley. It would be great to see a company like AltaRock Energy described above make the leap to emerging markets in order to tap into the potential and meet the growing demand.

Battery startup Layden Energy raises $10M for its next gen lithium ion batteries” by Katie Fehrenbacher on GigaOM
Fehrenbacher featured another breakthrough innovation on GigaOM this week, this time in energy storage. We wrote about energy storage a few weeks ago, and Leyden Energy is proof that there is still plenty of room for innovation, even in the lithium-ion space. Leyden’s breakthrough is a silicon anode that increases the energy density of the battery, allowing it to be slimmer. This builds on Leyden’s prior innovation that increases the lifetime of the battery.

Fueling Africa’s bright future” by Graham Mackay on Forum Blog
The World Economic Forum is conducting its Annual Meeting in Davos this week. One of the sessions is “De-risking Africa,” where Graham Mackay, the CEO of SABMiller is participating.  In this article, he emphasizes the world’s resource challenge is only going to grow as the middle class population is expected to more than double by 2030. Mackay calls for collaboration and multi-stakeholder partnerships to meet the world’s energy needs. In addition, there needs to be innovations like those described in the articles above.

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