Look at any list of big global challenges, and you’ll find an entry for our uncertain energy future. Some call efforts to re-imagine where we get energy and how we get it from existing sources this generation’s “moon shot.” As GE’s Beth Comstock said recently at an event announcing the winners of the latest round of the Ecomagination Challenge, “clean tech is too big for one company to solve.” The challenge is one example of opening up the innovation process to help build a more sustainable future. Another is the joint venture, Energy Technology Ventures, between GE Energy Financial Services, NRG Energy and ConocoPhillips, launched in January.
The three big companies came together to identify, fund and scale the best start-ups that use tech to either harness new energy sources or make existing sources more efficient and economical. That commitment is backed by $300 million in venture funds: the goal is to finance 30 emerging energy tech firms. A key criterion for investing? The solution must be scalable and so capable of having a material impact on the status quo, like new tech developed by an Israeli company that uses naturally occurring bacteria in wastewater to treat it, which not only saves energy but produces it. That’s right, a poop-powered grid.
Check out the video below to find out more about ETV and its initial portfolio of companies, featured recently at Mother Nature Network.