CalSEED awards $4.2 million in grants to early-stage clean energy innovations

October 14, 2020
28 clean energy startups were selected to receive $150,000 each for their concepts


Oakland, CA, 14 October 2020
– The California Sustainable Energy Entrepreneur Development (CalSEED) program is pleased to announce that the fourth cohort of innovative clean energy concepts has been approved by the California Energy Commission (CEC) – 28 companies out of 212 were selected to receive grants of $150,000 each to become our new Concept Awardees.

“It’s hard not to be hopeful – despite acrimonious politics and frightening fires – when you see this slew of great startups coming up here in California with solutions for our energy and climate needs,” said Danny Kennedy, CEO of New Energy Nexus. “The innovators and entrepreneurs of the golden state, supported by the CEC’s EPIC program through New Energy Nexus’ CalSEED fund, are fighting to ensure tomorrow we’ll turn the lights on to a better day.”

The awardees went through a rigorous process including a review with CalSEED’s curated technical advisory committee, who volunteered their time and expertise to select the most promising clean energy technologies of the future. The solicitation was designed as a call for early-stage clean energy innovations that fall within five defined technology areas: energy efficiency, energy storage, AI/machine learning, advanced power electronics/power conditioning, and zero- and negative – carbon emission generation.

“Some of these technologies will be quick to market, and some are novel scientific concepts that will need continued support to develop and de-risk. The CEC has created an energy innovation ecosystem and pipeline of EPIC grant opportunities in California to support breakthrough technologies through R&D to commercialization,” said Joy Larson, Program Director of CalSEED at New Energy Nexus. “These are the innovators that are going to help achieve our climate goals, these are the solutions that will make our energy system more resilient, and these will be leaders in the post-COVID economic recovery.”

To help California mitigate its ever-growing wildfires, this year CalSEED has included companies that are innovating in technologies that will build wildfire resiliency into the grid. Five of the 28 innovations will help protect the grid from wildfires/PSPSs, four of these five will provide climate and weather risk prediction to electric infrastructure and services, and one is a hard tech innovation to reinforce transmission lines.

“The CEC is proud to support these 28 companies who aim to bring new energy solutions from ideas to game-changing innovations that boost the state’s economic recovery and provide benefits to ratepayers,” said Janea A. Scott, Vice-Chair of the CEC. “Now more than ever, investing in California’s entrepreneur ecosystem means investing in a resilient clean energy future.”

CalSEED is funded through the CEC’s EPIC program, which invests approximately $120 million annually for innovative clean energy technologies and approaches benefiting the ratepayers of California’s three largest electric investor-owned utilities.

Details of the 28 companies awarded a total of $4.2 million:

ALD Technical Solutions is developing light-weight, easy-to-install, long-lasting, and cost-effective structural composite reinforcement system which will be installed and cured-in-place around existing Aluminum Conductor Steel Reinforced transmission lines to increase power capacity and power efficiency, and also decrease sag. This novel technology would deliver safe, reliable, resilient, and cost-effective electric power in the grid.

Cyclonatix, Inc. is developing an industrial-sized motor/controller to operate with either DC or AC power sources, for applications in electric vehicles, solar-powered pumps, HVAC&R, gas compressors, and other commercial and industrial machines which require high efficiency, variable speed/torque, and low cost. This technology could reduce electricity/energy bills, pollution from power plants, risks of blackouts, the need for new power plants, and pollution from power plant generation.

Cypris Materials, Inc. is developing paintable solar reflective coatings for the built environment to decrease cooling costs, improve energy efficiency, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. They are reinventing color to also eliminate toxic colorants and unlock high-performance optical coatings with its photonic paint technology.

EH Group Technologies Inc will develop an electrolyzer system based on a radical new design and with a transformative manufacturing technique that dramatically reduces costs. Their goal is to test an innovative electrolyzer concept for the cheap production of green (CO2 free) hydrogen for a decarbonized future.

EV Life, LLC is building the first online platform that gives drivers everything they need to switch from gas to an electric car. They will create an EV climate loan and lending platform that saves most drivers over $200 per month on an electric car loan by incorporating thousands of dollars in EV rebates and incentives into the upfront financing of each car. The platform will have algorithms that analyze applicants’ creditworthiness and their eligibility for EV incentives in order to offer them the most affordable EV auto loan on the market.

Gridware Inc. is developing industrial IOT systems and risk simulation software for utilities that own and maintain electricity distribution grids. A system of low-cost vibration sensors will monitor poles, conductors and equipment on the electricity distribution grid to predict where they may fail and ignite a wildfire.

Hago Energetics, Inc. aims to help farms become more profitable by converting farm waste to high-value products, such as hydrogen and valuable carbons. They break down organic matter, such as food scraps and animal waste, in conditions with no oxygen to produce a biogas that is later decomposed to hydrogen and carbon; this hydrogen is expected to sell at a lower cost and lower carbon footprint than the current methods.

IdealabStudio is developing an Advanced Air Stirling Cycle-based heat-pump for air-conditioning and heating applications in commercial and residential settings. This product could help reduce 30% of energy consumed for heating and cooling while enabling replacement of natural gas furnaces with green electricity.

Portable Solar Inc will develop a 2kW portable solar system that can knock 30-40% off your electric bill, earn your money back in 2-4 years, and if you move, you can take it with you!

infiniRel Corporation is developing a health diagnostics and control system for solar plants, improving efficiency and profitability, and reducing operational risks by optimizing maintenance, improving output, and extending the life of critical assets with patented, predictive diagnostics.

Innovasion Labs PINC, Inc. is developing a  breakthrough rechargeable battery technology that boosts the energy capacity via nanotechnology-enabled self-assembly of functional nanocomponents, reducing the cost of energy storage by at least 10 times . Their goal is to significantly improve electrical energy storage capacity by developing a novel assembly for batteries and facilitate progress toward 100% renewable energy sources.

inRG Solutions, LLC aims to design, build, and test a novel system continuously evaluating the physical condition of the electric grid. The system consists of numerous power line sensors and data collectors/analyzers located at substations. The sensor’s infrared camera and neural network autonomously identify swinging conductors, which prevents sparks from short circuits due to broken connectors or galloping conductors.

Leap Photovoltaics Inc. is creating a streamlined manufacturing process for silicon solar photovoltaic cells that requires only 10% of the silicon, half of the operating and equipment cost, and a quarter of the energy of incumbent technology, enabling sustainable solar manufacturing that will combat climate change by meeting global demand for solar.

MIplus Solar Inc. is developing a single device architecture for the seamless and simultaneous generation and storage of energy, via a solar cell and an alkali metal-ion battery, that are integrated together. This technology is a cost-effective, scalable, and self-rechargeable device that reduces system complexity, improves round trip-efficiency, doubles space utilization, reduces soft costs and is safer to deploy in residential solar plus battery applications.

NeoCharge Corporation is developing a smart grid platform with a rewards system and clean charging algorithms that optimizes home electric vehicle charging and large appliance loads for clean and affordable energy usage.

Noble Thermodynamic Systems, Inc. is building out the Argon Power Cycle, a new power system designed for the reciprocating engine, delivering emission-free electricity without compromising on reliability and affordability.

Parthian Energy is reducing the cost of batteries that power devices, electric vehicles, and stationary energy storage systems by developing the world’s first electromagnetic-based battery screening sensor, which provides orders of magnitude higher-resolution than any other battery sensor technology used today.

Paulsson, Inc. is creating a large aperture optical-based high-pressure, high-temperature pressure sensor array for deep geothermal wells, allowing for optimization, calibration and verification of geothermal energy extraction.

Photia Incorporated is creating environmentally benign and affordable packaging that will improve the shelf-life of agricultural produce by passively cooling during harvest, storage and transport without the use of electricity or refrigerants that contribute to global warming.

Planet A Energy, Inc. is building a Community Solar Platform and long-duration energy storage system with tolerance to hurricane-force winds, earthquakes, and grid outages, without costly foundations. It can be used at commercial and community (microgrid) scale and will consist of insulated shipping containers, filled with inexpensive basalt sand. This will be a brand new kind of renewable energy technology that collects solar energy today, while saving it for use anytime in the next 2-3 weeks, and is cost-competitive with traditional solar-without-storage.

Sonocharge will develop an evolutionary battery technology that integrates Li batteries with a novel acoustic device, enabling the rechargeability of a Li battery while delivering high power density, high energy density, and safety at the same time.

Taka Solar Corporation is developing a solar panel that utilizes an advanced tube-based architecture to package perovskites. It is a solution that could fully protect solar cells from oxygen and water, affordably, to realize the benefits of perovskites by improving their operating life. This approach can outperform traditional solar flat panels with silicon cells in efficiency and energy production, with lower system and installation costs, to dramatically expand the deployment of solar in the commercial & industrial (C&I) and agricultural sectors.

Tolo Inc. aims to create a new artificial intelligence tool using high-resolution imagery for remote inspection of utility assets. It will allow inspectors to identify risks to electrical infrastructure, including foliage clearance violations and equipment degradations that inspectors could ordinarily miss in the field, reducing the risk of utility-caused wildfires.

Topolonet Corporation is developing a software solution for real-time and accurate topology identification and state estimation of the transmission power grid. This software accurately finds the real-time topology of the transmission grids to detect faulty equipment, outages, and cyberattacks to avoid unnecessary power shut down.

Trianon Renewable Grid Reliability, LLC will demonstrate a scalable, proprietary software-based control algorithm that is designed to integrate seamlessly with existing inverter’s control software and transform conventional inverters into “synchronverters” that enable large-scale interconnection. This will enable the fastest possible transition to a 100% renewable energy grid by overcoming the key technical hurdle in a very low-cost manner — keeping the grid stable in the absence of diminishing conventional synchronous generators.

UNIGRID LLC is developing a low-cost, safe and sustainable battery for electrical grid storage to solve peak demand, renewable energy storage and power disruption problems during emergencies. This innovation is a sodium all solid-state battery system that offers low cost, safe and long lasting energy storage to reduce electricity bills and achieve energy self-sustainability.

Waterhound Futures, Inc. will demonstrate a cloud-based predictive modeling and analytics software that enables companies and municipalities to optimize performance and cost efficiencies of water and wastewater treatment, ultimately reducing the use of energy and freshwater in conventional treatment processes.

Whisper Energy Systems, Inc is developing is a widely affordable, high energy, extremely portable, rapidly rechargeable, high power, zero-emission device designed to effectively replace the extremely noisy and highly polluting small internal combustion engines found in portable gas-powered generators, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, chain saws, power washers, etc.

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About CalSEED
CalSEED is an initiative made possible by the California Energy Commission. The CalSEED initiative will provide $24 million in grants over five years to support innovators working on early-stage clean energy concepts. CalSEED is administered by New Energy Nexus.

About New Energy Nexus
New Energy Nexus is a non-profit international organization that strives towards an abundant world with a 100% clean energy economy for 100% of the population in the shortest time possible. To achieve this goal, we support diverse clean energy entrepreneurs with funds, accelerators and networks. We started in California and now operate programs in New York, China, India, Southeast Asia and East Africa.
For more information, please go to newenergynexus.com.

About the California Energy Commission
The California Energy Commission is leading the state to a 100 percent clean energy future. It has seven core responsibilities: developing renewable energy, transforming transportation, increasing energy efficiency, investing in energy innovation, advancing state energy policy, certifying thermal power plants, and preparing for energy emergencies.
For more information, go to energy.gov.ca