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Harvesting Waste Heat is Hot Business Concept

solarcells.jpg We renewable energy advocates love our silicon solar cells, but they come at a price: the process of making silicon generates massive amounts of heat and is a great, big electricity hog.

“Quartz rocks placed in electric-arc furnaces exude oxygen as superheated gas, leaving molten silicon. Just venting all that heat without setting something afire is a concern.” — Jon Van, Chicago Tribune

Now a company has found a way to make money capturing and using that heat, to make steam to run electrical generators. Illinois company Recycled Energy Development LLC, or RED, announced it has closed a deal with West Virginia Alloys, a silicon making subsidiary of Globe Metallurgical, Inc. The deal allows West Virginia Alloys to lock in a price for its electricity for 25 years; since that’s their largest cost of doing business, they’re happy. And since West Virginia’s electricity comes from burning coal, the state is pretty happy about having a way to help offset the millions of tons of greenhouse gases produced there. RED is getting big money from a deal made with Denham Capital Management, a private equity firm fueled by $1.5Billion from Bill Gates and Harvard University.

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Written By

Carol Gulyas is a leader in the renewable energy community in Illinois, where she serves as VP of the Board of the Illinois Solar Energy Association. Recently she co-founded EcoAchievers -- a provider of online education for the renewable energy and sustainable living community. She spent 18 years in the direct marketing industry in New York and Chicago, and is currently a teaching librarian at Columbia College Chicago. Carol grew up in a small town in central Indiana, then lived in the Pacific Northwest, Lima, Peru, and New York City. She is inspired by reducing energy consumption through the use of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and green building technology.


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