ASU leads solar energy training in Aruba

June 29, 2012

The Collaboratory at ASU’s College of Technology and Innovation (CTI) and the Caribbean Branch Office TNO (CBET) hosted two technical training sessions on the island of Aruba last month to support Aruba’s sustainable energy transition.

TNO, the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, is a nonprofit research organization and established a branch office in Aruba last year to create a center of expertise on sustainable energy technology for the Caribbean. TNO partnered with CTI’s Conservation & Renewable Energy Collaboratory (CREC) to assist in capacity building through professional development. Download Full Image

As part of the partnership, TNO asked CTI to provide two dedicated professional training sessions on solar photovoltaic energy.

The professional workshops were centered on the system design and installation as well as basic engineering principles of photovoltaic (PV) solar energy. The island of Aruba is in the Caribbean Sea, north of the mainland of Venezuela, and experiences an abundance of sunshine. Similar to many other island nations, Aruba has depended on importing fossil fuels to meet its energy requirements. The political leadership has recognized the importance of actively promoting and supporting renewable energy alternatives.

“Aruba realizes that in addition to technological innovation, local capacity building is of key importance,” said Jan Ebbing, director of the Caribbean branch office of TNO. “These trainings are a first important step in this. In addition, we hope to offer these trainings Caribbean-wide, as all islands will have to go through a similar transition.”

The first training focused on PV system design and installation, primarily on utility-connected residential PV systems. The one-week course outline and content was based on the recommended training and learning objectives established by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). The training was a combination of classroom instruction and extensive hands-on training to safely build, operate and maintain residential PV systems.

The second workshop was an applied PV engineering training for students to understand the engineering, design and operations basics of PV applications. Based on a compressed version of a graduate-level PV course that is taught in the Engineering Technology program at ASU, the one-week workshop was three days of in-depth classroom teaching and a two-day hands-on laboratory workshop.

“Aruba should be complimented as the regional leader in renewable energy in the Caribbean and this training is a true example of ASU’s New American University making a global impact,” said Anshuman Razdan, professor and executive director of CTI’s Collaboratory.

A total of 23 highly motivated and qualified professionals and engineers attended both training sessions. Attendees represented Aruba’s two major utility companies WEB Aruba N.V. and N.V. ELMAR as well as educators from the local technical college and a representative of the government inspection. Prime Minister Mike Eman and the Deputy Prime Minister Mike de Meza joined the final ceremony where students received certificates of completion.

Based on the successful completion of these initial training workshops, CTI and the Collaboratory have started discussions with TNO to extend renewable energy programs in Aruba and throughout the Caribbean.

Student-run companies selected as semi-finalists in Clean Tech Open

July 2, 2012

Two ASU student-led companies – reNature Inc. and SmrtEn – have placed as semifinalists in the Clean Tech Open’s 2012 Rocky Mountain Regional competition.

The Cleantech Open, the world’s largest cleantech accelerator program, holds regional competitions to filter semifinalists into their national competition. The Rocky Mountain regional competition included more than 50 entries from six states, including Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The 20 semifinalists will now compete for regional prizes totaling $20,000 in cash and services as well as a bid to the national competition. Download Full Image

“Cleantech is a core focus of our economic development efforts in the 21st century, and the Rocky Mountain region is seeing an abundance of entrepreneurs who are developing new and better technologies that make us a national cleantech leader,” said Richard Franklin, Rocky Mountain regional director of the Cleantech Open. “I salute the semifinalist winners today for their vision and commitment to building long-term economic growth and the success of a sustainable economy.”

Regional semi-finalist SmrtEn applies advances in cloud computing and Artificial Intelligence to address the energy challenge by offering Decision as a Service. Their debut service remotely programs home thermostats on a continual basis to save homeowners up to 50 percent of their heating and cooling costs. By aggregating the data to smooth the peak-demand for electricity, SmrtEn can also help utility companies reduce their Carbon Dioxide emissions by as much as 27 percent.

“Participating in the CleanTech open was an eye-opening experience. I realized that it was not good enough to have a great idea that would save the planet” said Som Shahapurkar, founder and CEO of SmrtEn. “I learned that my Pitch needed revamping, my business plan needed work and my financial projections could use more substance. I learned that programs like the Cleantech Open and the Edson program can help me get through these issues and advance SmrtEn to do what I originally intended for he business: to save energy and make sure the planet remains a beautiful place for the next generation to make something incredible”.

reNature Inc., also a regional semi-finalist, is working to close the nutrient loop. reNature's process seeks to keep food scraps and compostable waste out of landfills. The by-products of food scraps and compostable waste are natural fertilizers and polymers that have a lower disposal costs for organizations and municipalities and can reduced environmental liability.

“We are eager to participate in the 2012 Cleantech Open,” said David A. Metoyer, CEO of reNature Inc. “Being a semi-finalist in the Cleantech Open will provide us with key industry insight on how to deliver a marketable product backed by a business model that investors can get excited about."

reNature and SmrtEn are both student let startups that are currently enrolled in the Edson Student Entrepreneurship Initiative at ASU. The Edson program, which provides seed funding, office space and mentor-led business assistance, is a signature initiative within ASU’s Venture Catalyst. ASU Venture Catalyst is the ASU unit that works with high-potential startup companies, both inside and outside the university. The Edson Initiative and ASU Venture Catalyst are both strategic units of ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development.

“The Cleantech Open has undoubtedly been a fantastic opportunity for our clean tech startups within the Edson program to obtain additional seed funding, mentorship, and support,” said Brent Sebold, venture manager for the Edson Program. “We are very proud that our Edson companies have done so well in this competition and are excited to see the level of cleantech innovations coming out of the southwestern states.”

“ASU has a deep pool of talented innovators who are experimenting with commercializing solar, biomass, and other forward-thinking clean technologies” said Gordon McConnell, associate vice president of Innovation and Entrepreneurship with ASU Venture Catalyst.  “Many of these ventures are born within ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability and other clean tech research labs across all four campuses.  ASU aims to continue to excel in the clean tech sector within the coming years and with the significant jump in the percentage of ASU and Arizona applications to the Cleantech Open this year, I’d say we’re well on our way!”