• Alisha Wilson

Climate Tech: Solutions for California's Wildfires and Ever-Changing Climate


Noah Berger/AP Photo


In June of 1864, President Lincoln signed the Yosemite Valley Grant Act, which protected Yosemite National Park and Mariposa Grove. Yosemite, though adorned with impeccable granite peaks and high-sierra tranquility, is quite close to the Central Valley, whose climate is quite the opposite. This national park is home to more than 400 different species of animals and is imperative to maintaining ecological biodiversity in California. Yosemite’s climate changes dramatically over each of the seasons, warming and drying in the summer and welcoming heavy and wet snow in the winter.

Since 2022 started, there have been 4,679 fires burning through 53,160 acres of land in California, including in Yosemite and the numbers continue to increase. In more recent weeks, the Washburn Fire was reported on July 7, 2022, at the southern part of Yosemite, near Mariposa Grove’s giant sequoias, and it has since burned through about 4,856 acres as of July 22, 2022. Within the last few days, the Oak Fire, which began on July 22, has burned through a total of 16,791 acres as of July 25, 2022. Unfortunately, California is no stranger to wildfires. In 2021, there were 8,835 incidents with 2,588,948 acres burned.

So what does this mean? Wildfires release a considerable amount of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere contributing to what many know as global warming. The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service found that over the three-month period from June to August 2021, California fires released more than 75 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. Although California wildfires have a significant impact on our local and global climate, extreme wildfires occur all over our planet, meaning it's imperative that we focus on solutions that greatly impact and alleviate the dreadful consequences of wildfires.

Fortunately, there is no problem without an answer, including this one. And, here we like to focus on solutions, innovations, and trailblazers.


SierraCrete, a participant in our Technology Innovation Evaluation (TIE) program and CALSEED awardee, offers an alternative to traditional binding materials used to mold engineered wood products with exceptional strength and resilient properties. The company creates water, mold and pest-resistant wood construction, supplying safe and cost-efficient housing for those who might experience extreme events. By using reclaimed wood from the Sierra Nevada or agricultural wood-based biomass found in the Central Valley, they produce a strong, lightweight and carbon neutral material to achieve its benefits. SierraCrete prides itself on being affordable and sustainable as it cuts down on carbon emissions and toxins released by wildfires.

Climformatics, one of the most recent alumni of our Valley Ventures accelerator, is a women-owned climate tech company that builds computer models simulating global climate while obtaining analytics to make detailed predictions of climate and weather states. The forecasts are as accurate as the daily forecast but one year ahead. Climformatics predictive tool will proactively mitigate risk for gradual and unforeseen climate events that can benefit farmers, businesses, governments, and stakeholders to prepare, adapt, and mitigate the inescapable impact of climate change. Their work hasn’t gone unnoticed, as they were recently named a CalSEED Concept and Prototype awardee.

BoxPower, another alumnus of our Valley Ventures accelerator, configures microgrid solutions from pre-engineered products tailored to your exact needs and rapidly deploys systems on-site in a matter of days. They offer lifetime operation, maintenance support, remote monitoring and control capabilities. The benefits to solar microgrids are endless, but affordability, decarbonization and the opportunity to have energy anywhere are standout advantages. Throughout 2021, BoxPower focused on being the change they want to see when it comes to wildfires by placing their technology in Mariposa County, right in the backyard of Yosemite National Park. They believe access to clean, reliable, affordable energy should be available anywhere, anytime!

Climate change and wildfires don’t have to be a daunting or unsolvable issue when innovative pioneers are working tirelessly to create different solutions with climate technology. You can learn more about these climate pioneers and others by visiting our website at www.wetcenter.org.

 

The WET Center is Hiring!


The Water, Energy and Technology (WET) Center helps ventures grow healthy businesses starting from innovative ideas to commercially viable products and services. Since 2007, we have supported water, energy and agricultural technology entrepreneurs through programs and services developed by our experienced team, with the assistance of a diverse network of industry and academic professionals. The passion of our ventures, combined with a dedicated staff and a network of technical and business expertise, makes for exciting commercialization journeys –and successful ones.

Now, we are looking to expand our team! Do you or does someone you know have a passion for engaging and building relationships with start-ups or even supporting underrepresented groups and communities in the energy and clean tech division? These positions may be right for you. Check out the links below and apply today.


Community Engagement and Outreach Specialist

Pipeline Coordinator

 

Funding & Other Opportunities


National Science Foundation-Science and Technology Centers (STC): Integrative Partnerships program

Deadline: August 29

California Air Resources Board-California Air Resources Board Sustainable Transportation and Communities Programs

Deadline: September 9

California Department of Water Resources-Small Community Drought Relief Program

Deadline: December 29

Department of Agriculture-AFRI Foundational and Applied Science Program

Deadline: December 31


Check out the California State Grants Portal for more funding opportunities!

 

Members in the News


OffGridBox to be featured in the ESI Africa African Power & Energy Elites 2022


Climformatics CalSEED Concept and Prototype awardee.


Have a great story to share with our team?



 



 

Valley Ventures alumnus, BoxPower's virtual tour of their remote grid with PG&E! Learn more here.

 

WET Center and Partner Events

OKRs: Driving Focus, Alignment, and Engagement with Ben Lamorte | August 26

Join Carlsen Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, where you will have the opportunity to learn about the foundations of OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). You will learn the framework and practical application of OKRs to drive focus, alignment, and engagement in your business.


0122 Reach Codes Newcomers Webinar Series | September 27 Join Statewide Reach Codes Program, BayREN, Building Decarbonization Coalition, and the California Climate and Energy Collaborative as they help reach code newcomers (and anyone who wants to learn more about reach codes) gain a greater understanding of the options, resources, and timeframes involved. Sessions are timed for jurisdiction staff who are exploring reach code adoption in alignment with the new statewide 2022 Building Energy Code, effective January 1, 2023.




 

Did You Know

VV7 Applications are open! Apply today.

AgTech Day is October 28th!

CalTestBed applications are now open! Apply today.

Check out our resources page for helpful documents, videos and more!



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