Did you look into the night sky last week searching for the asteroid that passed between the Earth and the GPS satellites your smart phone uses? Did you notice gas prices rising to those same heights? Have you wondered, “Is there a better way?” or, “… a cheaper fuel?” or perhaps, “…jobs for local workers?”
Many of the 90+ people who gathered at Grey Stone in West Sacramento on Thursday were there asking the same questions, and working together at ways to answer them. This was at the PowerUp Symposium on Thursday 21 February, hosted by the Sacramento Area Regional Technological Alliance (SARTA).
The purpose of this gathering was to focus on developing alternatives for delivering energy to a variety of customers. Their emphasis was on “alternative” sources such as the mainstay solar and wind powered systems, but also on synthetic fuels as well. The author talked to a small handful of the participants in the symposium.
There were exhibitors such as DAE Technologies, Incorporated, of Davis. They are seeking to market a power source that easily fits into a camera bag that replaces both the lead acid and lithium batteries in electric cars, but that delivers the same amount of energy.
GreyRock provided the venue. They specialize in the development of diesel fuels especially from natural gas. The name “grey rock” is reminiscent of a developing source of natural gas in North America: Shale, which is a grayish, somewhat porous natural rock.
Mogavero Notestine Associates specializes in “multi-family” architecture that maximizes use of sustainable energy sources. Their recent projects included dormitories at the University of California.
CNFBiofuel is an outfit that basically changes carbon-based substances such as grass, trees, biological waste, algae, wood pulp, and other materials into a fuel that has heating properties similar to coal by using a technique called “torrefaction.” This process involves the heating of the biomass to between 300° and 480°F (cooler than a pizza oven) in a series of processes which remove a substantial amount of oxygen and water.
A major player in the local purchase and distribution of electrical energy in this area is the Sacramento Metro Utility District (SMUD). SMUD is ubiquitous at these events. Thursday, they were advertising their technical and financial support of small alternative source start-up companies. SMUD is attempting to comply with a requirement that 20% of generated power be obtained from renewable sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal by 2020.
Both start-ups and more mature businesses must be financed. Both the Five Star Bank and SAFE Credit Union have departments that work closely with companies looking bring their products to the marketplace, and are both heavily involved in developing “green” technology in the Sacramento area.
SARTA does various events throughout the year—mixers that bring the various players large and small together. A catalyst is a substance that causes other substances called reagents to react without itself changing its identity—in other words, bringing things together.
Ordinary people, local green businesses, people financing those businesses, West Sacramento’s Chamber of Commerce’s representative, local government (like Congresswoman Doris Matsui’s office, the Air Resources Board), public utilities, local colleges and universities (such as volunteers from the University of California, Davis) were all present at this event.
Ninety was a good crowd, but only a fraction of those involved both with SARTA and independently in helping the Sacramento area to be a premier green technology incubator. This article covered only a small handful of a fraction of those people. For instance, there were three transportation exhibits there also—an electric Toyota SUV, electric bicycles, and an electric security patrol vehicle.
Folk singer Bob Dylan sang, “The times they are a changin’ “ There are a variety of global or “macro” forces that molding the lives of ordinary people: technology, war, food distribution, fuel costs, water shortages, climate fluctuations, population pressures—to name a few. SARTA and groups like it are attempting to calayse various actors to help everyday people rise and overcome the macro children our children and grandchildren will face.