The Biggest Startup Money Burning Mistake

Matching the marketing message to your most desirable customer segments is an essential element to success for any startup or innovative business. Failing to do so can be very costly. The biggest startup money burning mistake – not defining your customer segments properly!

Mistake – No segmentation!

If you haven’t made any effort to define your desirable customer segments, how are you creating your advertising and marketing programs?  What is the message in your marketing?

Large corporations with large brands and large marketing budgets can do this, but a startup business usually has limited resources and negative cash flow. If your startup already has great, positive cash flow you do not need to read any further!

All others need to consider the following definition of a customer segment:

“A defined group of potential customers who share the same problem or passion and speak the same language.”

 

Mistake – Defining by demographics alone

Is your most desirable customer segment defined as a male in their 50’s?  Just because a person is male and in his 50’s doesn’t mean they have the same problem and speak the same language. One 53-year-old male might have a problem selecting fashionable shirts for his next vacation where another 53-year-old male wears the same shirt every day but really needs to find parts for his 68 Camaro which he is restoring himself.

The most important and most often missed piece: “share the same problem”

Check out the difference in the following two definitions of a customer segment:

1) Windsor and Essex County business owners between the age of 45 and 65 with annual revenues between $1M and $5M.

2) Windsor and Essex County business owners who are concerned that if their bookkeeper didn’t show up one day, no one else would be able to do the payroll.

The second customer segment is defined based on a common problem. And not just any problem, it should be defined by the problem that your business can solve for this customer segment.

The question to ask yourself is:

What problems do we solve for our customers? What problems are we really good at solving?

How painful is the problem for the customer? Is your product or service a “vitamin” solution or an “aspirin” solution?  Aspirin solutions are the best product or services because customers who have a headache right now will buy an aspirin. Everybody knows they should buy vitamins but without some pain, why bother?

When you start digging into the customer problems and trying to match up the features and benefits of your products and services, you may find it overwhelming because there are too many different problems and too many features and benefits.

With your limited resources and energy to focus, the least costly place to invest is on the top 2 or 3 most painful problems that you are really good at solving. In fact, if you have the ability to solve these particular problems, you should be able to make a cash flow profit.

The key trick is a bit counter intuitive:  define your customer segment as narrowly as possible and keep your product offering as simple as possible. Getting your startup to cash flow positive activities is step one. Once you get there, you can think about expanding product lines or seeking new customer segments, but trying to be all things to all people at the start is a guarantee of failure.

The other part of the definition of customer segment is “speaks the same language”.

Why is this important? It’s because successful marketing communications speak in the language of the customer.

You might believe that there is a lot of mysterious hocus-pocus that marketing firms use to develop a marketing message – there isn’t.  If you simply go and listen to the customers in your customer segment and capture in their language of how your product solves their problems, they will give you the message to share with the rest of the defined group. If this defined group speaks the same language, they will understand your marketing communications so much better!

Here is an example from a basement repair customer segment.

We defined the customer segment as married homeowners with wet basements that don’t like the musty smell. In this segment, we identified that one spouse was in charge of fixing the basement problem. After listening extensively to this customer segment, we found the perfect language for the marketing:

“Want to get your spouse off your back about fixing that smelly basement? We can help!”

In summary, the key to startup success is to narrow your customer segment (defined by a common problem or pain point). When you can communicate to them in their own language that you can solve their problem, they will ask you to solve it. Deliver the value by solving it and make some money!

P.S. If you happen to be one of those business owners concerned about your bookkeeping practices, let me know because I am working on a solution to that problem! paul@thebusinesstherapist.com


Paul Foster is the Founder & CEO of The Business Therapist. Paul’s life’s purpose is to bring more cash, freedom and happiness to independent business owners. Paul wants to learn about your toughest business challenges and frustrations so he can help you overcome them.

Colossal Solar Farm Could Power Europe

The colossal African solar farm that has been built in Morocco.

“Europe is making great progress in renewable technology! The creation of a colossal solar farm in the sunny reaches of Morocco shows the huge investment in CleanTech around the world. This massive solar farm has the potential, when fully scaled up, to provide all of Europe’s energy needs. With the sun shining 340 days a year, Morocco has great promise in sustainably powering the future of the continent!”

Marcus Deans, CleanTech Academy Graduate & WEtech Alliance Intern

Via BBC – July 14, 2017

The minibus crosses the vast plateau on a newly paved road. Cracked fields stretch away towards the Moroccan desert to the south. Yet the barren landscape is no longer quite as desolate as it once was. This year it became home to one of the world’s biggest solar power plants.

Hundreds of curved mirrors, each as big as a bus, are ranked in rows covering 1,400,000 sq m (15m sq ft) of desert, an area the size of 200 football fields. The massive complex sits on a sun-blasted site at the foot of the High Atlas mountains, 10km (6 miles) from Ouarzazate – a city nicknamed the door to the desert. With around 330 days of sunshine a year, it’s an ideal location.

As well as meeting domestic needs, Morocco hopes one day to export solar energy to Europe. This is a plant that could help define Africa’s – and the world’s – energy future.

Read more about the colossal African solar farm!

UPS Canada Improving Fleet Sustainability

An example of UPS's hybrid delivery vehicles!

UPS Canada is taking further steps towards sustainability by using clean technology and alternative fuels in its fleet, with an aim to have 50% of its vehicles running on alternative fuels by 2018. This shows Canadian companies’ commitment to employing CleanTech to reduce emissions and improve sustainability!

Marcus Deans, CleanTech Academy Graduate & WEtech Alliance Intern

Via Canadian Manufacturing – July 14, 2017

UPS announced new sustainability goals on June 27.

The company plans to add more alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles to its fleet while increasing its reliance on renewable energy sources.

The company says the goals support its commitment to reduce its absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from global ground operations 12 per cent by 2025.

“Because of our size and scale, we know our commitments can shape markets, advance technologies and be a catalyst for infrastructure investments,” said David Abney, UPS chairman and CEO.

Read more about UPS Canada's sustainability initiatives

CleanTech Refinery Coming to Southwestern Ontario

An example refinery similar to that that could be set up in Southwestern Ontario

Southwestern Ontario’s attractiveness as a hub for clean technology is shown by the planning for a new biorefinery in Sarnia. S2G BioChem plans to construct a $20 million refinery to employ clean technology to produce xylitol, an alternative sweetener, more effectively! 

Marcus Deans, CleanTech Academy Graduate & WEtech Alliance Intern

Via Canadian Manufacturing – July 12, 2017

Another biotechnology company is setting up shop in southwestern Ontario.

West Coast-based S2G BioChem revealed plans June 20 to build a new biorefinery in Sarnia, Ont., adding another name to the city’s roster of biochemical and biofuel firms, which already includes, BioAmber Inc., Biox Corp. and Comet Biorefining Inc., among others.

The commercial-scale facility is expected to cost about $20 million and will produce low-cost xylitol from forestry and agriculture residues.

Mark Kirby, S2G BioChem’s president and CEO, said the demonstration plant will help the cleantech firm set the stage for future growth while providing feedstock suppliers in and around Sarnia with a new revenue stream.

Read more about federal investment in tidal energy turbines

CleanTech Academy: Day 6 – Envirodrone

The Deans List - A Blog by CleanTech Academy Graduate & WEtech Intern Marcus Deans who heard from Envirodrone

Monday, July 10th – Envirodrone

Ryan Cant

Today we had the opportunity to hear from Ryan Cant, the founder of one of Windsor’s most innovative companies – Envirodrone. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in environmental & resource science from Trent University, Ryan worked for two years in private industry. He talked about how this real-life experience helped him in his future by demonstrating to him the policies companies used and the way operations were conducted. He then moved back to Windsor and gained an interest in UAVs, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

Ryan Cant of Envirodrone presenting to the students of CleanTech academy.

Introduction to Envirodrone

Ryan eventually founded his own company, Envirodrone, which uses drones commercially to benefit a variety of industries. We had the chance to see one of his drones in front of him while he told us about the different aspects of his company and how he has developed it over the past two years. The company is currently working towards full release of its services, since they have had to do a lot of testing to determine the best way to operate the drones and its different capabilities.

Technology

Ryan told us a lot about the technology used in the drones; there are two main categories of drones – fixed wing and rotary. The rotary design is what most people think of when they hear the word drone, apart from a military design. The rotary drones have multiple rotors that turn like a helicopter. Envirodrone employs the fixed wing drones primarily, which look a lot more like a normal aircraft. The fixed wing drones have a longer flight endurance, so they can collect more data without having to recharge, and also can carry a heavier payload of equipment for surveying.

A close-up view of the equipment used by Envirodrone

Purpose

Envirodrone is planning to use the drones mostly for agricultural surveys, since it is a major industry in our region. Farmers would be able to visualize their fields from above with high-quality and inexpensive data that would be provided by overhead drones. Ryan also told us about the six major fields which drones are being targeted towards: agriculture, aggregate (quarries and mining of rocks), construction, mining, energy (oil & gas), and geological. Drones are very useful and offer different capabilities compared to regular aircraft since they can move more slowly to collect more high-quality data, as well as flying safely at a lower level so that they can capture all of the fine details. Finally, and very importantly for the business, drones are significantly cheaper than aircraft since they do not require a pilot or aviation fuel.Ryan was a superb example to us about how far you can come in today’s world if you work hard for something you are interested in. He also conducts research at the University of Windsor, which is a great example of how private start-ups can coordinate with researchers to further technologies and achieve common aims. They are hoping to develop advanced sensors that will be superior to the currently available off the shelf systems. He was very knowledgeable about everything he talked about and we could all tell that he is truly passionate about drones. We had a great time listening to Ryan speak about Envirodrone and how it came to be!

Summary

Ryan was a superb example to us about how far you can come in today’s world if you work hard for something you are interested in. He also conducts research at the University of Windsor, which is a great example of how private start-ups can coordinate with researchers to further technologies and achieve common aims. They are hoping to develop advanced sensors that will be superior to the currently available off the shelf systems. He was very knowledgeable about everything he talked about and we could all tell that he is truly passionate about drones. We had a great time listening to Ryan speak about Envirodrone and how it came to be!

 

Find out what else made the Deans List in Marcus’ daily CleanTech Academy recaps:

DAY 1  DAY 2  DAY 3   DAY 4   DAY 5   DAY 6


Marcus Deans currently attends Académie Ste Cécile International School in Windsor and is looking forward to learning more about the technology and business world as part of WEtech Alliance. Outside of school, Marcus volunteers with the Canadian Cancer Society, the WindsorEssex Community Foundation, and the City of Windsor. He has also served in several leadership positions at youth-run companies as part of Junior Achievement. Marcus also enjoys science and has ranked internationally in youth science competitions as part of Team Canada.

He’ll be with us throughout the summer and will be reporting on his experience in our inaugural CleanTech Academy class through his CleanTech Blog posts.

 

GO Train Network Electrification

Ontario’s government is aiming to electrify Toronto’s GO train network using hydrogen fuel cell technology, demonstrating the government’s commitment to clean technology and desire to reduce emissions! Assessments are being conducted with the aim of using the technology for express rail by 2025.

Marcus Deans, CleanTech Academy Graduate & WEtech Alliance Intern

Via Canadian Manufacturing – July 9, 2017GO train electrification could have broad implications for our province

The Ontario government is looking into using hydrogen-powered trains to replace the diesel locomotives that currently ferry commuters across the Greater Toronto Area.

The province’s Transportation Minister, Steven Del Duca, was at GO Transit’s Willowbrook yard in Etobicoke June 15 to kick off the environmental assessment process for the major infrastructure project.

“Electrification is an important step forward for regional rail in Ontario,” Del Duca said. “It is critical that we get it right.”

The push to electrify the Toronto area rail system is part of a $21.3 billion project Queen’s Park says will convert the commuter-focused GO Transit network into a regional rapid transit system. Trains will run more frequently both in and out of Toronto—and they’re expected to do so on electrical power as the province pares down on greenhouse gas emissions and noxious diesel fumes damaging to human health.

Read more about federal investment in tidal energy turbines

CleanTech Academy: Day 5 – Detroit River Boat Tour

The Deans List - A Blog by CleanTech Academy Graduate & WEtech Intern Marcus Deans on the Boat Tour

Saturday, July 8th – Detroit River Boat TourBoat Tour Picutres

Today we went on an incredible boat tour of the Detroit River and had a unique opportunity to see both banks of the river up close. We launched from Festival Plaza, and quickly sped away from downtown Detroit and Windsor, headed downriver. The tall buildings and towers of Detroit quickly receded into single storey buildings and plazas as we left the core. On Detroit’s bank, we saw the first big change – from commercial and residential buildings into industrial. Piers for bulk cargo and construction aggregate appeared. As we moved closer to the northern bank of the river, we started to see the black, heavily industrialized landscape that is Zug Island.

Zug Island

Our boat sailed just 300m from the massive U.S. Steel plant, directly past the huge blast furnaces and docks. As we moved past, the air became noxious with sulphur and smelled absolutely awful. It is almost incomprehensible that such heavy industry is located near four million people. The plant pumps out all kinds of substances from lead to smoke to heavy chemicals. Zug Island is even responsible for the mysterious hum we can hear from the Canadian side!We Were able to view Fighting Island during the Boat Tour

Fighting Island

Going downriver past Zug Island, and towards Fighting Island, relieved everyone. Even though today Fighting Island is beautiful and full of greenery, hosting ecological tours, it has a chequered history. In the past, chemical companies used Fighting Island as a dumping ground for sodium carbonate, lye, and baking soda! The island was incredibly polluted due to the lack of oversight from authorities at the time, and the disregard for the environment that remained common until the mid 20th century. Eventually, BASF, another chemical company, bought the island. They rehabilitated the entire island so that now it is one of the premier ecological sites in the area.

Homeward Journey

As we moved further down the river, we heard more from the guides about the wildlife on the banks. They also talked about some of the different wildlife within the river,  and we glimpsed several different bird species. The ride back upriver along the Canadian bank was much more relaxing, with the industry of Detroit being replaced with the residential, agricultural, and parkland areas of Windsor & Lasalle. Overall, the boat tour was a very relaxing yet informative tour down the river and offered a unique perspective that we cannot normally experience!

Find out what else made the Deans List in Marcus’ daily CleanTech Academy recaps:

DAY 1  DAY 2  DAY 3   DAY 4   DAY 5   DAY 6


Marcus Deans currently attends Académie Ste Cécile International School in Windsor and is looking forward to learning more about the technology and business world as part of WEtech Alliance. Outside of school, Marcus volunteers with the Canadian Cancer Society, the WindsorEssex Community Foundation, and the City of Windsor. He has also served in several leadership positions at youth-run companies as part of Junior Achievement. Marcus also enjoys science and has ranked internationally in youth science competitions as part of Team Canada.

He’ll be with us throughout the summer and will be reporting on his experience in our inaugural CleanTech Academy class through his CleanTech Blog posts.

 

Federal Government Funds Tidal Energy

The turbine bieng used in the Bay of Fundy tidal energy project

“Canada’s federal government has allocated $1 million for further research into tidal energy in the Bay of Fundy, which has the capability to generate significant power through its massive tides. Our government’s commitment to clean technology allows our country’s continued leadership in the sector and facilitates further growth in the sector! Combined with renewable technologies being employed across the country and our extensive use of hydroelectricity, these projects bring us closer and closer to complete energy sustainability!

Marcus Deans, CleanTech Academy Graduate & WEtech Alliance Intern

Via CBC – July 8, 2017

The federal government will bolster a project aimed at addressing challenges in harnessing the crushing tides of the Bay of Fundy and beyond to create renewable energy, Canada’s natural resources minister said Thursday.

Jim Carr said the federal government will contribute $1 million to the project led by the Offshore Energy Research Association, which will look at current knowledge gaps in tidal power.

“Few countries in the world have the advantages we do when it comes to tidal power. Bordered by three oceans and with the longest coastline of any nation, Canada understands the potential of tides as a source of electricity,” Carr said during a news conference at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth, N.S.

“Canada is a leader in tidal power technology, but for all of our expertise, there are still gaps in our knowledge — still unanswered questions — that we have to fill and to answer.”

Read more about federal investment in tidal energy turbines

Government Invests in Reducing Auto Emissions

Curbing auto emissions like these is highly beneficial for the planet and helps lessen the threat of climate change.

The federal government is providing almost $12 million to reduce emissions from cars and to boost the development and performance of hybrid, electric, and fuel-efficient vehicles. Over $5 million in investment is directed for Ontario, with $3.4 million going to local Windsor company Tyromer Inc., which uses recycled scrap rubber to seal car windows and doors! These clean technologies will improve the sustainability of automotive production and allow us to continue to produce vehicles in Canada without damaging our environment!

Marcus Deans, CleanTech Academy Graduate & WEtech Alliance Intern

Via CANADIAN MANUFACTURING – July 8, 2017

The federal government is providing up to $11.9 million for six projects which will support the development of lighter, more fuel-efficient cars and improve the performance of hybrid and electric vehicles.

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada says up to 80 jobs will be created in B.C., Ontario and Quebec because of the investment.

$11.5 million of the funding will be allocated through the Automotive Supplier Innovation Program, and will benefit the following companies:

  • Datec Coating Corporation in Mississauga, Ontario: ($1.3 million) Developing technologies that will improve heating management systems for vehicle cabins, lithium-ion batteries and engine fluids.
  • Tyromer Inc. in Windsor, Ontario: ($3.4 million) Using recycled scrap rubber to seal car windows and doors.
  • Eurospec Manufacturing Inc. in Newmarket, Ontario: ($1.7 million) Developing an automotive seat adjustment mechanism.
  • Loop Energy Inc. in Burnaby, British Columbia: ($787,000) Developing a fuel cell.
  • TM4 Inc. in Boucherville, Quebec: ($4 million) Developing an electric engine for light trucks.
  • Advanced Technology Emission Solutions Inc. in Hamilton, Ontario: ($272,000) Developing technology for catalytic converters, devices used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from car tailpipes.

Read more about federal investment in reducing auto emissions

CleanTech Academy: Day 4 at CEI and CS Wind

The Deans List - A Blog by Cleantech Academy Graduate and WEtech Intern Marcus Deans

Friday, July 7th – CEI & CS Wind

Centre for Engineering Innovation (CEI)

We started our day today by heading to the Centre for Engineering Innovation (CEI) at the University of Windsor, just across from the University of Windsor EPICentre. We first heard from Dr. Lindsay Miller, who gave us a short presentation on the advantages and struggles associated with renewable energy. For example, renewable energy is called intermittent, meaning that it is only available at certain times, like when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. This can be difficult to link with our energy demand, since humans follow a steady cycle in which energy usage is highest midday and lowest during the night (which happens to be when the wind blows the most). Another problem is that renewable energy can require many resources, such as solar which requires huge amounts of water to keep clean and therefore operating at peak performance.

The CEI & Energy Storage

One of the crucial aspects that needs to be solved for renewable energy to be effective is energy storage. Conventional batteries often use far too many resources and can be inefficient. It was extremely interesting to hear that the University of Windsor has pioneered a new method of energy storage. Reserachers designed balloons that store air under high pressure underwater. The water keeps constant pressure on the air balloons, so that when the valves are opened the air comes rushing out and can therefore be used to regenerate the electricity. These are problems that will need effective solutions before renewable energy can completely replace our existing technologies, and it is clear that the University of Windsor intends to play a major role in this process.

CleanTEch students at the CEI

CEI – Turbulence and Energy Lab

We then visited the Turbulence and Energy lab, where we met with Dr. David Ting and his graduate students. We learned about the research they conduct in the lab and all of the different ideas they are testing. They perform different tests and experiments that enable us to better design systems like wind turbines and energy storage. We viewed the huge wind tunnel they have there, which is used to test different designs and their aerodynamic efficiency. Some of the graduate students fired up the wind tunnel for us and demonstrated how they tested one of the aerofoils they made, with a camera positioned above the aerofoil to observe the interactions. It was super cool to see everything the Turbulence and Energy lab does and it was great to see some of the most interesting research being conducted at the University of Windsor CEI!

CS Wind

We then took a Transit Windsor bus on a short trip to CS Wind Canada’s manufacturing plant on the east side of the city, close to Tecumseh. We met with Paolo Piunno, one of CS Wind’s project manager. First, we heard more about CS Wind, a global company with five manufacturing sites across the world. The plant in Windsor is one of CS Wind’s most productive facilities and has the capability to build over 700 towers yearly. One of the most surprising things we learned is that the turbines themselves are not produced within the facility! Instead, the towers are manufactured here, while the turbines are shipped in from different manufacturing facilities and different companies.

The plant started operating in 2011 to provide towers for projects across North America and even the world. Ontario uses many of the towers locally as part of Ontario’s initiatives to increase renewable energy. We use the towers to create the large wind farms we all see around Chatham and Belle River. The plant is simply massive and encompasses many acres of land. CS Wind chose the site based on its proximity to highways (just in front of the plant), railways (which run at the back of the plant), and rivers. The plant has a very good operating record and celebrated two years with no safety infractions, despite currently producing hundreds of towers every year!

CS Wind Plant TourCleanTech Academy Students at CEI & CS WInd

“Black Tower” Building

After Paolo finished his presentation, we went on a truly remarkable tour of the plant floor itself. It was simply incredible to be able to actually stand on a functioning factory floor. We were amidst all of the towers being assembled and could literally touch the huge components. The plant was closed when we visited so we were able to get a firsthand view of everything. Workers make the towers using specific steps: steel plates are cleaned, curved, and beveled, then joined together. Technicians then attach these large section piece by piece to make a tapered tower. All of this goes on in the gigantic “black tower” building. The towers leave this section of the plant with a black finish.

“White Tower” Building

The towers then move into the “white tower” building, which finishes the construction process. A huge oven bakes the towers to finish the construction. A technician then applies epoxy, followed by a urethane coating. While that may sound very complicated, Paolo explained that it is basically sunscreen. This allows the epoxy and paint last longer, which saves money and time. One of the critical parts of this coating process is maintaining a certain temperature. This ensures that the material sticks to the tower properly. The whole backing process has to restarted if the temperatures deviate too far from 140 degrees Celsius! Natural gas also powers all of the plant’s heating elements, which was very interesting. This links back to Union Gas, and how a relatively clean fossil fuel can facilitate our use of renewable energy!

Overall – CEI & CS Wind

In summary, our tour of the turbulence & energy lab, as well as CS Wind Canada, was remarkable. Researchers are developing great renewable technology like wind turbines and aerofoils at the CEI, including very interesting wind tunnel testing. Meanwhile, CS Wind Canada is using these technologies in real life at their manufacturing plant, helping Ontario transition to a more sustainable energy generation system. It was a completely novel experience to see both the research and practical aspects of these technologies!

Find out what else made the Deans List in Marcus’ daily CleanTech Academy recaps:

DAY 1  DAY 2  DAY 3   DAY 4   DAY 5   DAY 6


Marcus Deans currently attends Académie Ste Cécile International School in Windsor and is looking forward to learning more about the technology and business world as part of WEtech Alliance. Outside of school, Marcus volunteers with the Canadian Cancer Society, the WindsorEssex Community Foundation, and the City of Windsor. He has also served in several leadership positions at youth-run companies as part of Junior Achievement. Marcus also enjoys science and has ranked internationally in youth science competitions as part of Team Canada.

He’ll be with us throughout the summer and will be reporting on his experience in our inaugural CleanTech Academy class through his CleanTech Blog posts.

$8 Million Federal CleanTech Investment

Example solar panels in which the investment in solar crystals could benefit

The federal government continues to demonstrate its support for CleanTech by announcing almost $8 million in investment for three Ontario companies, ranging from solar power to fertilizer derived from biowaste to the optimization of cloud computing’s energy requirements!

Marcus Deans, CleanTech Academy Graduate & WEtech Alliance Intern

Via CLEANTECH CANADA – July 7, 2017

The federal government announced $7.85 million worth of Ontario cleantech investment on June 19, for projects focusing on solar power, cloud computing and biofertilizers.

These projects are being funded through Sustainable Development Technology Canada, which works with Canadian companies to bring early-stage clean technologies to market.

The following projects will be receiving federal funds:

  • $5.5 million for Ranovus Corp. of Ottawa, which is exploring ways to reduce the amount of electricity required for companies to store information in the cloud.
  • $1.45 million for Heliene Inc. of Sault Ste. Marie, which develops mono-crystalline solar modules.
  • $903,000 for BioLINE Corp. of London, which has found ways to take the biowaste from mushroom farms and convert it into fertilizer.

Read more about federal investment in Ontario cleantech

CleanTech Academy: Day 3 at FREC

The Deans List - A Blog by Cleantech Academy Graduate & WEtech intern Marcus Deans who went to FREC

Thursday, July 6th – Freshwater Ecology Restoration Centre (FREC)

CleanTech Academy students listening at FREC

Today we ventured out to the Freshwater Ecology Restoration Centre in Lasalle, part of the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research (GLIER). It was a long trip for some, but it was definitely worth it! Our day commenced with a brief presentation by Dr. Trevor Pitcher. He discussed some of the problems facing the Great Lakes and the impact our activities can have on our lake ecosystem. We then explored the experimental part of FREC. It was incredible to see the huge tanks containing different species of fish and marine life!

FREC Technology

We also saw some of the spectacular technology being used at FREC. One of the machines in the centre, sourced from Denmark, is the only machine of its kind in Canada! It is able to simulate different currents and wave conditions in order to test the health of fish and their swimming capabilities. We also saw sea lampreys in their tank – it is safe to say that they disgusted everyone present, maybe with the exception of Dr. Pitcher. We viewed fish eggs from different species that were previously collected and preserved to determine the fish’s reproductive capabilities. The lab overall was extremely impressive – one of its coolest features was its abilities to replace half the tanks with lake water to compare the healthiness of fish in the different levels of water cleanliness.

CleanTech Academy Students observing at FREC

Sustainability

In addition to its efforts in helping our region’s wildlife, the centre is also very ecologically sustainable. Unlike many “open-loop” systems, the centre uses a “closed-loop” system which means that the water that goes to fill the tanks continues to be recycled and reused, saving considerable amounts of water. The only water that is put into the system is approximately 20 litres a day, simply to compensate for evaporation, which is remarkable considering the size of the centre!

In order to prevent the water from becoming highly contaminated and affecting the effectiveness of experiments, the water goes through a systematic cleaning process. Firstly, a degassing mechanism is used to remove waste gases from the water, which are piped outside the building. Afterwards, a commercial drum filter is used to remove the solid waste.

CleanTech Academy students near the river at FREC

A University of Windsor engineering student came up with a design addition that allows the drum filter to operate autonomously – whenever the tank water is detected as being dirty, the filter automatically runs. Finally, the water runs through a tank that contains helpful bacteria, living on plastic pellets. These bacteria remove the remaining tiny organic material from the water and allow clean water to be pumped around the system.

One of the other extremely interesting innovations at the centre was its automated fish feeding system. Feeding all of the different fish in the many tanks would be difficult given their different feeding requirements and times. However, commercial systems cost over $50, 000! Instead, GLIER collaborated with University of Windsor engineering and computer science students to develop their own, innovative system! Each tank has a hopper on top containing the fish feed, attached to a motor and sensors. Each hopper feeds back to a central computer that displays all of the data on one screen. The hoppers can be automated to distribute the food at certain times, so that the system can run independently.

Workforce Windsor Essex gave an awesome presentation at FREC

Even better, the entire system cost less than $5000! The collaboration between different departments of the university allowed for significant cost reductions while also giving many different students hands-on experience. This kind of innovation demonstrates the advanced technology that is being used at GLIER and at FREC to advance our scientific knowledge and protect our ecosystem!

Workforce Windsor-Essex

We also heard from Workforce Windsor-Essex about CleanTech careers in the region. It was surprising to hear how many careers were available in the sector and how rapidly the sector had developed. We heard thoroughly about different elements of the sector and also specific companies. Hearing all of the opportunities that are available to us was really informative. The presentation definitely changed some of our plans for the future and what we want to work as!

Find out what else made the Deans List in Marcus’ daily CleanTech Academy recaps:

DAY 1  DAY 2  DAY 3   DAY 4   DAY 5   DAY 6


Marcus Deans currently attends Académie Ste Cécile International School in Windsor and is looking forward to learning more about the technology and business world as part of WEtech Alliance. Outside of school, Marcus volunteers with the Canadian Cancer Society, the WindsorEssex Community Foundation, and the City of Windsor. He has also served in several leadership positions at youth-run companies as part of Junior Achievement. Marcus also enjoys science and has ranked internationally in youth science competitions as part of Team Canada.

He’ll be with us throughout the summer and will be reporting on his experience in our inaugural CleanTech Academy class through his CleanTech Blog posts.

 

Renewables to “Dominate” Global Power Generation

An example of how renewable energy could dominate global power generation

“Renewables are poised to ‘dominate’ global power generation by 2040, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance‘s annual New Energy Outlook report. Renewables are projected to garner over $7 trillion in estimated investment in the sectors, supplying the majority of energy for most countries across the world. This shows the power of CleanTech and its feasibility in drastically reducing carbon emissions!”

Marcus Deans, CleanTech Academy Graduate & WEtech Alliance Intern

Via GREENTECH MEDIA – July 6, 2017

Renewable energy cost declines continue to outpace what analysts predicted just one year ago.

That’s the upshot from Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s latest installment of the annual New Energy Outlook report, which models the global energy mix out to 2040. The authors predict renewables will capture 72 percent of the $10.2 trillion spent on new generation in the next 23 years, and will produce 51 percent of global power generation in 2040.

That’s the global average, which means in certain places, zero-carbon penetration will be even higher, explained lead author Seb Henbest. All renewables will supply more than 80 percent of power in Mexico, Chile, Brazil and Italy, for instance. Solar and wind alone will produce more than 50 percent of generation in Australia, Germany, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

In just the next five years, large-scale solar will be cheaper than new coal plants in essentially all major economies.

Read more about renewables and how they can dominate global power generation

CleanTech Academy: Day 2 at FCA & Union Gas

The Deans List - A Blog by CleanTech Academy Graduate & WEtech Intern Marcus Deans

Wednesday, July 5th – CleanTech at FCA & Union Gas

Automotive Research and Development Centre (ARDC)

CleanTech academy students at FCA

Today we started our first activity day of CleanTech Academy by visiting two of Windsor-Essex’s most well-known employers – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Union Gas. We met at 9 am at the FCA’s Automotive Research and Development Centre, or ARDC. We learned loads about how much work goes into designing and improving vehicles, especially the highly efficient hybrid version of Chrysler’s Pacifica. Countless hours went into designing the world’s first hybrid minivan, producing substantially less emissions than its gas-powered counterpart, which uses only 8.4L/100km!

Chrysler engineers explained extensively to us the huge improvements FCA has recently made in reducing their vehicle’s emissions. The emissions from a pre-1980 vehicle are equal to the combined emissions of over 30 third-generation vehicles! The newest generation of vehicles comprises the fourth generation, which generates even fewer emissions than its predecessor. We saw the design work that is done prior to actually constructing the vehicle, even for items seemingly so simple as seats. The Pacifica’s seats employ an innovative mechanism to easily fold completely into the floor. Although this is very simple for the consumer,  they required many hours of work to construct properly.

We also had the opportunity to see the ARDC’s labs themselves, like road testing laboratories. Vehicles are tested there using hydraulics to simulate the terrain of real-life roads. The recycling lab was super interesting, where the ability to disassemble and dispose of the vehicle is determined. Following the recycling lab, we glimpsed the corrosion lab, where vehicles are subjected to extreme conditions to test their durability. We concluded our tour of the ARDC by viewing the simply colossal headlight testing centre, used to test vehicles’ headlights in a variety of conditions, including heavy fog. Afterwards, we moved across the road to Union Gas’s Windsor distribution office.

Union Gas

CleanTech academy students at the ARDC and Union Gas

Despite being focused on the distribution of a fossil fuel, Union Gas acts as a leader in sustainability and CleanTech. The distribution centre is LEED Gold certified, meaning that it adheres to the highest standards of efficiency and uses many energy saving innovations. We learned more about Union Gas’s steps to reducing its carbon footprint and that of its consumers. Even the trucks at Union Gas now run on natural gas, showing how every stage of Union Gas’s distribution network is being made more sustainable! Union Gas gives its consumers information on how to make their home more efficient.  This information can help them reduce the amount of natural gas and other resources that they use. Another important step that we learned about is to notify authorities prior to digging. If someone unintentionally disrupts a gas or other resource line, they could cause massive and potentially dangerous problems.

The office itself is semi-independent of the grid and is one of Union Gas’s three most innovative offices. Each combines many sustainable technologies to create highly efficient buildings. The Windsor office uses co-generation, meaning that some of the resources the building uses are generated by itself. The building includes a reciprocating engine that uses natural gas to generate electricity, heat, and cooling for the building. This highly efficient system also uses heat exchangers to reduce the amount of resources used by 80%! It was incredible to see how much the technology had developed and how far the building had come. We had an amazing day at the ARDC and Union Gas learning more about CleanTech and the developments taking place in our region!

Find out what else made the Deans List in Marcus’ daily CleanTech Academy recaps:

DAY 1  DAY 2  DAY 3   DAY 4   DAY 5   DAY 6


Marcus Deans currently attends Académie Ste Cécile International School in Windsor and is looking forward to learning more about the technology and business world as part of WEtech Alliance. Outside of school, Marcus volunteers with the Canadian Cancer Society, the WindsorEssex Community Foundation, and the City of Windsor. He has also served in several leadership positions at youth-run companies as part of Junior Achievement. Marcus also enjoys science and has ranked internationally in youth science competitions as part of Team Canada.

He’ll be with us throughout the summer and will be reporting on his experience in our inaugural CleanTech Academy class through his CleanTech Blog posts.

CleanTech Academy: Day 1 at EPICentre

The Deans List - A Blog by CleanTech Academy graduate and WEtech intern Marcus Deans at EPICentre

Tuesday, July 4th – CleanTech at EPICentre

Today WEtech kicked off CleanTech Academy with a presentation of what the program is about and the activities we will be involved in. About 30 students from different schools were gathered here at University of Windsor EPICentre and we heard presentations from representatives of the many organizations that we’ll be visiting over the next week. We also heard from MPP Lisa Gretzky and Regional Advisor Darren Winger about how extensively CleanTech ties into Ontario, and how Ontario 150 celebrations are helping to boost the profile of the sector.

Kickoff of CleanTech Academy at University of Windsor EPICentre

The week will be super fun, with trips to both industry and research! We will be heading to FCA tomorrow for a tour of their R & D facility, and will end the day by visiting Union Gas. It will be very interesting to hear about the role natural gas will play in a sustainable community, even though it is a fossil fuel. The rest of the week will be equally exciting, with trips to all kinds of different CleanTech locations like the Freshwater Ecology Restoration Centre, the University of Windsor, and CS Wind Canada!

Find out what else made the Deans List in Marcus’ daily CleanTech Academy recaps:

DAY 1  DAY 2  DAY 3  DAY 4   DAY 5   DAY 6


Marcus Deans currently attends Académie Ste Cécile International School in Windsor and is looking forward to learning more about the technology and business world as part of WEtech Alliance. Outside of school, Marcus volunteers with the Canadian Cancer Society, the WindsorEssex Community Foundation, and the City of Windsor. He has also served in several leadership positions at youth-run companies as part of Junior Achievement. Marcus also enjoys science and has ranked internationally in youth science competitions as part of Team Canada.

He’ll be with us throughout the summer and will be reporting on his experience in our inaugural CleanTech Academy class through his CleanTech Blog posts.