It’s special when a sitting president comes to Nevada, but it’s especially satisfying when he comes to validate what many Nevada energy business leaders and politicians have been saying all along. And what Senator Harry Reid meant when he coined Nevada as the Saudi Arabia of Renewable Energy.
President Obama recently held a town hall meeting at Reno’s young waste-heat-to-power energy company, ElectraTherm. Of course, the selection of Reno was partly political, now that he has announced his 2012 presidential campaign, but his visit does something even more important. By selecting a clean energy company like ElectraTherm for the town hall meeting, it says the White House recognizes Nevada’s contribution to its national clean energy plan. It also showcases the variety of ways moving away from fossil fuels can be achieved.
President Obama congratulated ElectraTherm, saying, “…every industry is generating some sort of heat; it’s going up in smoke stacks and nobody is using it. The question is can we capture that energy in a smart way? That’s what ElectraTherm is all about.”
For those who think about clean energy in Nevada, they likely envision the vast solar farms in the southern part of the state (Nellis AFB) and the extensive geothermal facilities just south of Reno, developed by Ormat. So far, solar companies in the north as well as biofuel and wind energy generation companies state-wide — and there are many emerging — are largely in pre-funded stages. What ElectraTherm represents is an established company, that straddles both sides of the clean energy equation. That is, a hybrid of both energy generation and energy conservation.
As it describes its technology, ElectraTherm’s patented Twin Screw Expander and Organic Rankine Cycle enables their line of Green Machines to make electricity from low-to-medium temperature heat arising from the manufacturing process, or from geothermal or solar thermal sources that would otherwise go to waste. The Green Machines provide fuel-free and emission-free power to many industries worldwide, including “reciprocating engine water jacket, biomass and concentrated solar.” So, their Green Machines “generate” electricity from heat thrown off by industrial operations, plus they promote energy “efficiency” by replacing some of the electricity the plant would normally purchase from the utility.
Here’s what CEO John Fox had to say about the company’s role in increasing America’s renewable energy footprint: “The president spoke to us about maintaining clean energy incentives … to reduce our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels. We hope that heat-to-power will be recognized as an enormous untapped opportunity to expand renewable energy production in the U.S.”
Reno-based ElectraTherm was founded in 2005, has 44 employees and to date has sold 12 systems nation-wide. Keep your eye on this company.
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Marketing consultant to renewable energy start-ups