SAN FRANCISCO, March 16, 2011 - RBC and Imagine H2O today announced the winners of the 2010 Imagine H20 Water-Energy Nexus Prize.
First place went to Hydrovolts, a Seattle-based company that uses floating hydro-kinetic turbines to convert the water flow of canals into a distributed energy source, with power provided to canal operators and nearby consumers. Hydrovolts has a market opportunity in the American west as well as in countries like India, where large populations live near canals.
The two runners-up, Blackgold Biofuels (Philadelphia) and Fogbusters (Mill Valley, California), are unlocking the energy resources found in fat, oil and grease (FOG), which are some of the most energy-intensive waste-streams in the water grid. Blackgold Biofuels is operating a pilot program at San Francisco's Wastewater Treatment facility, turning fat, oil and grease into biodiesel. Fogbusters' simple, patented technology works in conjunction with existing treatment systems to recover FOG from wastewater without the use of chemicals and is gaining traction with potential users in the oil and gas sector.
All three companies are turning cost-centers into profit-centers and unlocking important energy potential to make water infrastructure more efficient and robust. The winners of share $100,000 in cash, business and legal support, and access to a network of partners, customers and financiers to help bring their ideas to market.
"Only a small number of water start-ups receive funding each year because, while there are many existing technologies that hold promising solutions, few can offer the business model to effectively enter the market," says Tamin Pechet, Co-founder and Chairman of Imagine H2O. "We're looking for great ideas with great business models."
The competition's theme of the water/energy nexus was intended to increase public awareness of the connection between water and energy.
The EPA estimates that retrofitting one out of every 100 homes with water-efficient technologies could save 100 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year and avoid adding 80,000 tons of greenhouse gas to the atmosphere. North American consumers can often save more energy by turning off the tap than by turning off the lights.
Imagine H2O is now the leading ecosystem for water entrepreneurship and innovation and the 2010 competition attracted more than 50 submissions from around the world including the United States, Canada, Australia, Sweden, the Netherlands, Singapore and Israel.
"Imagine H2O leverages entrepreneurship to tackle water challenges and inspires people with ideas to launch new businesses," explained John Taft, CEO of RBC U.S. Wealth Management, who represented Founding Sponsor RBC at the announcement event. "We are especially pleased to see the quality of this year's finalists and their commitments to turning water challenges into opportunities."
The three winners were honored at Imagine H2O Water Innovator's Showcase in San Francisco. The event included a special address from Timothy Brick, the former Chairman of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.