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Clean and Cool 2015 day 4

reporting all week on the Clean and Cool Mission from San Francisco...

Our fourth day in San Francisco had a gentle start with many of the companies getting the chance to be interviewed by our accompanying journalists Roger Harrabin (BBC), Hannah Prevett (Times), Jon Card (Guardian) and Trevor Clawson (Forbes) or writing blogs for our site. These include an excellent discussion on what innovation is (and isn’t) by Sam Cockerill and bringing the human factor into pitches by John Hingley.

Late morning a large group went to meet IDEO and learn about how design can help innovation (a favourite topic of mine) while I travelled to Oakland along with Trevor to the Bay area base of Cumulus Energy Storage hosted by their CEO and Mission participant Nick Kitchin. Cumulus have taken hundred year old technology for capturing metals at mining operation scale to develop a battery that can operate at grid scale to store energy. Their research labs are working on the engineering challenge of running the electrochemical process reliably at the different scales the business can exploit opportunities at – such as storage for solar farms to extend their useful (predictable) grid supply time. Their chemistry has been described as ‘boring’ – i.e. it is incredibly reliable (it is basically a big copper/zinc battery) which, coupled with the scale the process has been run at, means the ability to scale is relatively low-risk.

Everyone then reconvened to head over as one group to Cooper, White and Cooper law firm offices for a reception hosted by global sustainability consultants ERM. There the companies again presented their two minute pitches followed by a short panel session on how legislation is driving innovation in California and the UK. I was on the panel along with an ERM expert, the lawyer who incorporated Apple and the environmental lead for the city of San Francisco. California has climate reduction targets in line with the UK Climate Change Act and see it as a driver for innovation.

The evening ended with a mixer with wine provided by the barrel by a local firm and food supplied by a local sustainable catering company. Another successful day of connections!

Mike Pitts

@pittso

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