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Students took home $200,000 in prizes for green ideas at an awards ceremony recently held at California Institute of Technology for a Department of Energy competition.
The three winning entrepreneurs won with ideas for robots for cleaning Brisbane solar panels, developing energy from waste water treatment, and 20% more efficient solar cells. Stanford Nitrogen Group, Greenbotics and Xite Solar shared the prize money. The western region’s three winners in the DOE’s National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition (NCEBPC) were chosen by a top panel of judges including top Silicon Valley green innovation hunters Kleiner Perkins and Khosla Ventures.
Next these three regional winners will join winning teams from five other regions across the country, who will compete in the nation’s capital in June. All told, 83 applicants from 34 universities across twelve states submitted inventions ranging from new battery materials for portable electronic devices to net energy+ home kits, hydroponic farms and telephone apps for tracking energy use in the home.
image via Greenbotics
The most interesting of the three ideas, to me, is the remotely controlled Greenbotics robotic cleaner from CalTech and UCLA.
Given the enormous expansion coming in solar over the next few years, I think the Greenbotics solar panel cleaner is a real winner. This market currently represents 368 MW of installed capacity across 18 plants, and is expected to grow significantly to 20GW of installed capacity across 135 plants by 2015.