Cleantech Open announces winners

Twenty-one cleantech startups from across the U.S. competed for a grand prize of $250,000 in investment and services at this year’s Cleantech Open Business Competition. And the winners are . . .

Today in

Carbon capture and sequestration is the only way to make coal-fired power environmentally responsible, and yet we’re so far from getting there. Last week’s decision by utility AEP to cancel its plans to continue with the country’s first commercial-scale project to capture carbon from a working coal power plant gives an indication of just how little economic pressure exists on the utility industry to change its ways. AEP tells the world that without federal carbon legislation, it just can’t justify the project’s investment. Given how challenging it is just to capture coal smokestack carbon and pump it underground, perhaps there’s little surprise that actually doing something useful with captured carbon will be even further down the road. So says a report out from the UK-based Center for Low Carbon Futures, which finds that feeding captured carbon to algae or other plants for conversion into biofuel, or pumping it into alternative systems for manufacturing cement, plastics or other materials, will require many years of testing and refinement to reach commercial viability. Will the world’s carbon emitters and their regulators be willing to spend the time and money to make these lines of business worthwhile to investors?

AEP to ditch carbon capture, clean coal plan

Utility American Electric Power plans to announce on Thursday that it will suspend its project to capture the carbon emissions, at a commercial scale, from a coal plant in West Virginia, reports the New York Times.

GE Fires Up Rail Deals in China, Eyes U.S. High-Speed Rail Projects

General Electric (s GE) started churning out plans earlier this year for cleaner heavy-haul locomotive technology, announcing its intention in May to produce batteries for hybrid trains in upstate New York and unveiling a new, more fuel-efficient locomotive model. This morning, the conglomerate has announced a set of agreements with various companies and the government of China that will help GE ramp up its locomotive business in the country — and potentially lead to a larger role for both GE and China on the road to a high-speed rail buildout in the United States.
GE has announced two deals related to rail this morning, including an agreement with China’s Ministry of Railways to advance partnerships that would allow the company to pursue high-speed rail projects in the U.S. with manufacturing provided by a Chinese partner (GE doesn’t currently manufacture locomotives for these types of projects). And it’s formed a joint venture with CSR Qishuyan to develop, build and service GE’s most fuel-efficient line of diesel locomotive engines, the Evolution Series, in China and eventually other countries as well.
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Forget Resumes, Focus on Ideas

penelope5Penelope Trunk thinks that most of the career tools out there don’t cut it in today’s world. Every job site or social network requires a resume that follows a traditional format, but many of us can’t make our resumes fit that format. We no longer spend years with one employer or even on one project, despite what most human resources managers might hope. Trunk summed up the situation: “Everyone who telecommutes has a weird resume.” Sites like LinkedIn don’t really provide a way to show off a web worker’s expertise and abilities — and the situation gets even worse if you’ve been freelancing. Read More about Forget Resumes, Focus on Ideas

Google Wave Due Soon; Early Apps Are Arriving Now

When Google (s goog) recently announced its Google Wave initiative, there were a lot of posts going around the web characterizing it as earth-changing news, although some questioned the effort. Wave combines email, instant messaging, wiki features and more, conjuring up images of a next-generation communications tool. Now, the Google Wave team has posted an update on the project’s status, including information on how developers can start using it early, and when users at large can.

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“60 Minutes” on “Clean Coal” Misses the Innovators

“60 Minutes” aired a pretty blah piece on Sunday night on the problems of capturing carbon from coal plants. While the story interviewed a lot of the big names in both the coal and the renewable energy industries, including Duke Energy’s Jim Rogers, NASA’s James Hanson, Climate Progress’ Joseph Romm and UC Berkeley’s Dan Kammen, it failed to mention any of the new companies and technologies being developed to capture the carbon.
No mention of PowerSpan, which recently raised $50 million from investors like George Soros and NGEN Partners, or GreatPoint Energy, which was one of the most well-funded cleantech startups around. The piece was short, so perhaps they didn’t have time, but they had the perfect opportunity to take a brief look at the new players when Rogers admitted that Duke, despite pledging to reduce its carbon footprint, has not spent any money investing in the technology of carbon capture and sequestration. For more info on CCS, read our FAQ.

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Back to the FutureGen: DOE Takes Shine to Controversial Carbon Capture Demo

FutureGen, a planned 275 MW cleaner coal demo project, essentially bit the dust last year when the Bush administration pulled funding. But with support from top officials in the new administration, the effort to build a coal-fired power plant equipped with experimental carbon capture technology has gained new life.

A joint effort between the government, coal industry and utilities that faced massive cost overruns, FutureGen was envisioned as a proof-of-concept project for carbon capture and storage technology, which remains untested on a commercial scale. The 2007 proposal to build a federally-backed “cleaner coal” plant put a bee in the bonnets of environmentalists and won big support from lawmakers in Illinois, where the plant was supposed to be built.

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Certified Refurbished Macs One Way to Help Weather the Economic Storm


Apple (s aapl) is taking a lot of stick (even more than usual) about hanging tough with premium pricing despite the global financial meltdown, and it almost never offers discounts or sales. So how can budget-constrained Macheads economize on system upgrades? One solution is to buy a less-expensive model than the one you would have perhaps preferred. Another is get an Apple Certified Refurbished machine instead of going new.

If you’re not familiar with Apple Certified Refurbished (ACR) products, here are the broad strokes: ACR units are pre-owned (or in some instances, such as store demos, never-sold) Apple products that undergo Apple’s stringent refurbishment process prior to being offered for sale. Most of these units have been returned under Apple’s Return and Refund Policies, but according to Apple, only some of them are returned due to technical issues. In any event, all ACR units undergo Apple’s quality refurbishment process.

  • Full functionality testing (including burn-in testing).
  • Refurbishing with replacement parts and components for any defective modules identified in testing.
  • Thoroughly cleaned and inspected.
  • Complete repackaging by Apple, including appropriate manuals, cables, etc. (albeit in a brown cardboard carton rather than one with full color lithographs on the box)
  • Operating software that originally shipped with the unit and any custom software offered with that system.
  • A new refurbished part number and serial number.
  • A final QA inspection.
  • Quality testing follows the same basic technical guidelines as Apple’s Finished Goods testing procedures.

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