To foster new methods of improving the performance and efficiency of the grid GE has come up with a way to challenge and reward innovation. GE has committed $200 million dollars to foster innovation and challenge inventors to come up with ideas that can be used to improve how we use energy. The "Ecomagination Challenge" asked companies, entrepreneurs and even students to submit ideas that could contribute to creating a smarter cleaner grid. Launched July 13th 2010 the winners were announced recently and included American and international companies.
An independent panel of judges were selected including challenge advisor, Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson, GE executives, academics and technologists.
The Ecomagination Challenge picked five winners from the 4000 ideas that they were presented with during the challenge. A whopping 70,000 entrepreneurs in more than 150 countries over a 10-week period held robust conversations and presented their ideas to the judges.
GE partnered with four leading venture capital firms, Emerald Technology Ventures, Foundation Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byer and RockPort Capital, to conceive and implement the Challenge, calling for innovation ideas in three categories: Renewables, Grid and Eco Homes/Eco Buildings.
The winners of the $200 million dollar Ecomagination Challenge are:
- Capstone Metering: Intelligent Water Meters – Carrollton, Texas: Capstone Metering applies remote communications technology to the century-old water meter. The company’s IntelliH2O is self-powered and delivers real-time water system management, which helps conserve water and eliminates the need for manual meter-readings (www.capstonemetering.com).
- ElectricRoute: Secure Communications Network for the Electric Grid, Salem and Hollis, New Hampshire: Recognizing the substation's unique location in the electric grid, ElectricRoute created a communications gateway point for transmission and distribution systems. Its cyber-secure, communications network infrastructure eliminates duplicate sensors and thousands of copper lines running inside the substation.
- GridON: Controlling Power Quality in Electric Grids, Givatayim, Israel:- GridON created a fault-current-limiter to protect the electric grid from disruptions and power outages, increasing the grid’s reliability and enabling load growth and generation expansion from alternative energy sources. This technology was developed in collaboration with Bar-Ilan University and Ricor Ltd (www.gridonsystems.com).
- IceCode: Wind Turbine Blade Anti-Icing and De-Icing, West Lebanon, NH - Seeking to break one of nature’s strongest bonds, IceCode’s technology removes ice by using high-power pulses to apply heat from the inside out. Employing this technology for wind turbines substantially reduces the amount of energy used for de-icing and eliminates downtime for ice removal and inspection. Developed in collaboration with Dartmouth College (www.icecode.com).
- WinFlex: Inflatable Wind Turbines, Kiryat Yam, Israel: - WinFlex produces rotors for wind turbines from light, flexible and inexpensive cloth sheets made out of composite materials. This flexible rotor design reduces installation costs by at least fifty percent and shortens the return on investment to three-four years, without subsidies (http://winflex.co.il/).
Wired's Chris Anderson said "Our grids today are where the Internet was a generation ago, with their full interactive potential still largely untapped. Just as we did with the Internet, we can make them smarter and more efficient, using the power of collaboration, open access and a hugely expanded range of entrepreneurs. The Challenge was designed to accelerate this, and show that good ideas can come from anywhere. And the number and breadth of ideas we received was indeed inspiring."
GE said it's investing $10 billion dollars in research and development over the next 5 years as well as doubling operational efficiency including reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Visit the Ecomagination Challenge Innovation Award winners page at Ecomagination.