13 biggest moments in cleantech in 2013

Here’s the 13 biggest things I paid attention to this year around next-generation energy, sustainability, and resource management. Oh heck, let’s just keep calling it cleantech.

First portion of huge algae farm in New Mexico is done

Come take a look at the first phase of Sapphire Energy’s algae farm in New Mexico. When eventually built out it will produce 100 barrels of algae biofuel a day, and currently the five-year-old startup is making algae fuel on ponds across about 100 acres.

Algae startup Sapphire Energy raising $144M

Algae biofuel is getting a massive infusion of money. Startup Sapphire Energy, which uses synthetic biology to make a green crude out of algae, announced on Monday that it’s raising $144 million in a Series C round from investors including agriculture company Monsanto.

Monsanto Backs Algae Startup Sapphire Energy

Agriculture and genetics giant Monsanto has made its bet on algae. On Tuesday, Monsanto announced that it has made an equity investment in, and developed a partnership with, algae startup Sapphire Energy. Sapphire Energy uses synthetic biology to make a green crude out of algae.

Monsanto to Double Crop Yields with Hybrids

While the attention of the world’s food crisis critics was focused on the UN’s summit in Rome, Monsanto, the agro-biotech behemoth, publicized its plans to double corn, cotton and soy bean crop yields by 2030 while cutting water, land and energy needs 30 percent. The St. Louis, Mo.-based company’s three-point plan also stipulates it will work to help farmers, including an ill-defined “5 million people in resource-poor farm families.”

Conspicuously absent from the announcement was any mention of biofuels and how doubling the yields of corn and soy, the two largest biofuels feedstock in the U.S., might change the market economics of grain-based ethanol. All of these efficiency and yield boosts could greatly help corn and soy ethanol makers, who are getting slammed by slimming margins, and slow the switch to non-food biofuel feedstocks.
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