Fed up with your energy supplier? Fed up with too-high bills (despite falling oil prices) and questionable business ethics?
Fortunately, as coal falls out of favour, renewable targets become more ambitious and fossil fuel divestment catches on in a big way, a new wave of energy companies have arrived to serve our future energy needs – and the work they’re doing is nothing short of inspiring.
Here, we list a few of the energy companies that are sure to be making waves over the next few years.
Plant-e is based in the Netherlands and was founded by a team from Wagingen University, the only university in the country to focus on the topics of “healthy food and the living environment.”
This exciting start-up has developed a way to use living plants to generate electricity. Plant-e’s microbial fuel cells harvest the electrons released as micro-organisms naturally break down organic matter, enabling whole fields to be transformed into green power stations. What’s more, the cells don’t restrict the growth of the plants or require any complicated infrastructure to run, making them perfect for providing power to isolated rural areas.
In the future, the same technology could be used on green rooves to power homes and businesses.
This creative California-based start-up has developed a way to extract precious metals and rare earths from end-of-life electronics, alleviating the need for conventional mining (such as strip mining and pit mining) and its well-recognised human and environmental costs.
The resources that BlueOak sources from e-waste can be used in alternative energy technologies. Investors have been quick to recognize its potential – BlueOak has the support of some of the most influential figures in US venture capital and recently raised $35 million to finance its electronics-mining factory in Arkansas.
Founded by a joint German team from the Technical University of Dresden and the University of Ulm, this innovative start-up is working on the development of innovative photovoltaic cells (click here to read more about the basic science behind solar energy).
These lightweight, flexible solar “modules” (as they’re technically known) are set to open up new possibilities in the solar sector, such as the generation of energy from vehicle rooves. Investors are so keen on the idea of organic solar that Heliatek has raised more than $50 million since its founding in 2006.
Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, GreatPoint Energy has developed a proprietary catalyst that allows coal and biomass to be converted into natural gas using far less energy than conventional methods.
It produces natural gas that is far less expensive than liquefied natural gas and, equally as importantly, has an outstanding environmental footprint.
37-year-old founder Andrew Perlman is now working on a expansive $20 billion project that uses GreatPoint’s technology to convert coal in China’s Gobi Desert into pipeline-quality natural gas. If it’s successful, it could pave the way for GreatPoint technology to be used on a global scale.