The Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster held the second-ever Cleantech Innovation Awards (virtual event) on December 9, 2020 at noon to recognize and honor the individuals and organizations driving cleantech innovation and deployment in our region. Nominations were open August 19 and closed on October 16.
Information about RTCC's 2019 Annual Meeting and Cleantech Innovation Awards, including award winners, can be found here.
CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR AWARD WINNERS!
Cleantech Champion of the Year
Mike Burnette, NCEMC, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
A 33-year employee of the North Carolina Electric Cooperatives, currently in the role of COO, Mike’s fundamental goal has been to improve the quality of life in the rural North Carolina communities that cooperatives serve, supporting them in a variety of ways, including helping cooperatives provide affordable and reliable electricity. Some of the that Mike has championed innovative and sustainable cooperative projects, including 18 community solar projects; the development of several microgrids tying sustainable resources with energy storage and innovative control technologies; and the cooperatives’ EV charging network throughout the state to support the adoption of electric vehicles. Mike also helped form the cooperatives’ Brighter Future vision, with a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 while also upholding a commitment to reliable and affordable electricity.
Cleantech Entrepreneur Award
Ryan Kennedy, Atom Power, CEO
The team at Atom Power created the first and only solid-state circuit breaker certified for commercial use by UL, employing a switch 3000 times faster than any mechanical breaker and virtually eliminating the risk of arc flashes or explosions. A former commercial electrician turned electrical engineer, Ryan Kennedy witnessed the dangers of electrical infrastructure and was motivated to build something better. He founded Atom Power at UNC Charlotte, and the company today manufactures 95% of the components for the Atom Switch within 200 miles of Charlotte and employs 26 people in Charlotte. In June, Atom Power raised $17.8 million in a Series B round to develop the next generation digital circuit breaker, scale its intelligent power management platform, and address the world’s most pressing power distribution challenges, such as integrating renewables into the grid, building more efficient data centers, and supporting other sustainable energy initiatives.
Diversity in Cleantech Award
City of Charlotte Renewable Energy & Efficiency Workforce (RENEW) Training Program
The RENEW Training Program is a partnership between Charlotte and the Urban League of the Carolinas. Participants receive heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) industry-certified credentials required for entry-level technician positions for careers in commercial and residential energy, including renewable energy and energy efficiency. Graduates from the program have access to career opportunities with industries leaders such as Trane Technologies and others in the field.
Water Innovation Award
Town of Cary Floodwater Prediction & Monitoring System
Cary’s floodwater prediction and monitoring system provides real-time alerting and visualization of rising storm water levels to enable automated operational response, citizen notification, and data sharing with regional partners, as well as analysis and prediction of future events. The town can better identify anomalies, such as rising water, through the integration of weather forecasting data and real-time stream and facility sensor data measuring water and rain levels to deliver advanced warnings of flood threats.
Cleantech Community Award
Wake Electric Eagle Chase Microgrid
Wake Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) recognized the mass sprawl in the Northern Wake County area, including the addition of 60 subdivisions in the past three years, which is extremely rare in rural electric territories. This growth provided the opportunity for Wake EMC and their partners to develop a resilient community microgrid to the residents of the Eagle Chase subdivision – which includes both clean and traditional generation to increase resiliency, sustainability, and generate economic benefits to the utility and community residents.
Grid Innovation Award
Power Resource Group (PRG) Carolina Poultry Power (CPP) – Farmville
PRG designed, funded, built, owns, and operates the CPP project in Farmville, which annually uses 70,000 tons of poultry litter to generate nearly 2MW of clean renewable electricity and the equivalent of 12MW of thermal power to assist the operations of a small utility and nearby industry. The project brought $32M in investment into rural North Carolina, created 20 direct and 30 indirect jobs, and established a template for how industrial-, as opposed to utility-scale, projects can work with smaller rural electrical utilities to provide baseline, 24/7 power without the typical drawbacks of intermittent renewable energy sources. The project has provided a solid foundation for the construction of two more poultry projects – including one starting in Q1 2021 – and a pipeline of blended fuel projects with hard-to-utilize waste streams.
Cleantech Impact Award
Project Axis – Amazon RDU1
In 2009, after a devastating industrial accident, ConAgra Foods shuttered their plant in Garner. The Garner Economic Development Corporation (GEDC) worked for years to market the property for redevelopment and to replace the 440 jobs and $55 million of tax base that was lost when the plant closed. The Project Axis – Amazon RDU1 initiative resulted in the redevelopment of the former ConAgra Foods Plant, a 98-acre brownfield site, in to a 2.6 million square foot Amazon fulfillment center that will employ thousands.
Cleantech Talent Initiative
US EPA Community Engagement & STEM Education Program (CE-STEM)
The CE-STEM program communicates EPA's mission of protecting human health and the environment to students, educators, and the public through interactive programs in schools, community events, on the EPA-RTP campus and, since March 2020, through virtual programming. Cleantech is embodied in CE-STEM, particularly in three of its education focus areas: 1) Clean Energy using the EPA-developed game, GENERATE: The Game of Energy Choices, 2) Ecosystem Services using EPA’s EnviroAtlas tools to communicate the health benefits provided by ecosystems, and 3) Sustainability through Speaker Bureau presentations and sustainability tours of the EPA-RTP campus.
Transportation Innovation Award
City of Raleigh EVSE Sustainability Analysis Mapping Tool
Raleigh created a GIS-based tool that identifies the most suitable, priority locations for publicly available Level 2 EV charging stations in the city to serve the community. The suitability of an area is based on criteria such as EV driver behavior, location convenience, charger utilization, economic development opportunities, environmental justice, and equity. The project was inspired by and designed to be a tool to support the city’s Transportation Electrification Study.
Nominations were judged by a panel of cleantech experts and winners were announced at the Cleantech Innovation Awards on December 9.
ANNUAL MEETING & AWARDS CEREMONY AGENDA
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Noon - 1:30 PM (virtual event)
Free for RTCC Members
$25 for non-members
NC Governor’s Office
AWARDS & FINALISTS
Awards applications were accepted from August 19 to October 16. Nominations were judged by a panel of cleantech experts and winners were announced at the Cleantech Innovation Awards on December 9. A full list of nominees for each category can be found here.
See prospectus below for sponsorship opportunities. Contact Emmit Owens for more information.