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Solar and energy startups chosen for Shell-NREL development program

05 May 2020

GameChanger Accelerator partnership awards substantial funding to develop viable clean power technologies.

Clean energy initiative Shell GameChanger Accelerator Powered by NREL (GCxN) announced three new startups to participate in the program following a multistage competitive evaluation.

GCxN, established in 2018, provides promising cleantech startups with technical resources to accelerate product commercialization while de-risking investment. The new companies represent the program’s third cohort, and are focused on enabling more efficient and effective solar and storage solutions.

The GCxN initiative is a multimillion-dollar, multiyear program developed by oil giant Shell’s GameChanger and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) focused on discovering and advancing emerging clean technologies with the potential to dramatically alter the future global energy landscape. GCxN is administered by NREL, located in Golden, Colo.

Solar, thermal, storage

The selected startups are developing perovskite solar panel materials, hybrid solar-thermal systems and large-scale energy storage solutions. The third cohort of GCxN companies include:

  • BlueDot Photonics (Seattle, WA) - Developing a cost-effective and scalable manufacturing process to create solar panels using perovskite materials, which can increase solar panel output by at least 10 percent.
  • Icarus, RT (San Diego, CA) - Creating a hybrid solar-thermal photovoltaic system that stores and uses leftover “waste heat” from solar panels to generate power on demand. This significantly increases power output per panel and lowers overall cost per kilowatt.
  • Jolt Energy Storage (Holland, MI) - Using organic compounds to develop safer and more efficient flow batteries with the same large-scale storage capabilities as lithium-ion, but at a lower cost.

Over the past decade, solar deployments in the United States have increased by an average of 48 percent each year, states GCxN. The energy storage market is on a similar trajectory, nearly doubling in size in 2018 with similar expectations for final 2019 numbers.

Cleantech innovation

“Startups play a critical role in maintaining the momentum of the clean energy transition. Now, more than ever, it is increasingly important to foster cleantech innovation and help promising solutions overcome barriers to market,” said Adam Duran, GCxN program manager at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) .

Would-be GCxN startups are nominated by Channel Partners—a network of 63 cleantech incubators, accelerators and universities—before undergoing assessment by Shell and NREL.

Once in the program, companies gain access to up to $250,000 in technical assistance, with the opportunity for future follow-on funding, benefit from NREL’s state-of-the-art research capabilities, and have support from Shell and the group of cross-industry Channel Partners.

“The startups that have been selected for the third GCxN cohort will help us achieve a lower-carbon future. They are looking at the full life cycle of solar and storage performance, and their technologies have the potential to drastically improve functionality and meet a wide range of real-world needs,” said Haibin Xu, Shell’s GCxN program manager.

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