Updated March 30 at 10:30am

R.I. in race for renewable energy

Rhode Island is at the starting line of deploying renewable energy with some potentially dramatic breakthrough technologies on the horizon, according to Thorne Sparkman, managing director of the Slater Technology Fund. More

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R.I. in race for renewable energy

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Rhode Island is at the starting line of deploying renewable energy with some potentially dramatic breakthrough technologies on the horizon, according to Thorne Sparkman, managing director of the Slater Technology Fund.

“Within our borders, we have a miniscule amount of wind, a tiny amount of solar and a small amount of hydropower,” said Sparkman. “It’s a drop in the bucket. It’s way behind, but we’re headed in the right direction.”

On the groundbreaking side is work being done by Enhanced Energy Group, an energy-technology startup that’s commercializing technologies developed at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, Sparkman said.

Among other breakthrough renewable energy projects are those being done by Providence-based VCharge, with software that “… helps integrate renewable energy into the grid,” and by East Greenwich-based VoltServer, “… which has invented a new kind of digital electricity,” said Sparkman.

“These are dramatically new things, new in their class and each, in its own way, has a chance to make a dramatic impact on the energy landscape,” said Sparkman. “I’ve been all over the country and what excites me about Rhode Island is that on this end of the energy spectrum, people here are doing something game-changing.”

Bordering Massachusetts, one of the most advanced states in the development of energy technology, tends to suggest comparison. But for a small state, Rhode Island is making progress toward potentially dramatic energy technology, Sparkman said.

When it comes to changing the energy landscape, “The EEG project represents a new way to generate electricity, capture the CO2 and sell it to the petroleum industry,” Sparkman said.

The Slater Technology Fund announced $100,000 in funding to EEG on July 29.

“Normally, CO2 is causing greenhouse gases and that’s why our planet is heating up,” Sparkman said. The EEG project would capture carbon dioxide in a pure, pressurized form.

“It creates a sellable product” without creating greenhouse gases, he said. “The petroleum industry uses it in the oil patch. They fire it into the ground to force the oil out. It’s called enhanced oil recovery,” he said.

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