GreenVolts, the winner of the renewable energy prize in last yearâ''s California Clean Tech Open, just signed an agreement with Pacific Gas and Electric to build the largest photovoltaic concentrator in the world. The eight-acre solar plant in Tracy, Calif., will produce 2 megawatts of power, and is due to be completed in 2009. PG&E also contracted with Cleantech America to build a conventional photovoltaic power plant in Fresno County, generating 5 megawatts.
Bob Cart, profiled in IEEE Spectrum Online last November, founded GreenVolts. Cart began his career in the machine tool industry before developing various Internet businesses in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In 2004 he and his wife sailed to New Zealand; in various island villages on the way he rebuilt corroded solar panels, discarded by other sailors, and attached them to batteries to power village lighting. In July 2005, hooked on solar, he started GreenVolts to build solar power plants that hook into local grids at the substation level. The company went on to develop efficient solar concentrators.
The Clean Tech Open win gave Cart US$50,000, legal, accounting, and recruitment services, and office space. Other 2006 winners were Adura Technologies, EDC Technologies, KiteShip Corp., and Crystal Clear Technologies.
The deadline for this yearâ''s competition is this Saturday. Winners in six technology categoriesâ''renewable energy, transportation, smart power, energy efficiency, green building, and air/water/waste managementâ''will share some $600,000 worth of prizes. Finalists will be announced July 26; the winner will be crowned in late October.