Energy Firms Aided by U.S. Find Backers 

By Matthew L. Wald of the New York Times: In late 2009, the federal government gave $151 million in grants to advance 37 clean energy ideas deemed too radical or too preliminary to attract much private financing — like electricity storage that mimics photosynthesis and batteries that double or triple the energy stored per pound.

Kate Passino works with wafers at 1366 Technologies in Lexington, Mass., which has a process that helps it make cheaper solar cells.

Hector Inirio, left, and Peter Kane work in another area of the laboratory at 1366 Technologies.

Since then, six of the projects have made enough progress to attract $108 million in private venture capital financing — about four private dollars for every dollar that the taxpayers spent to get them rolling — the Department of Energy plans to announce Thursday.

While none of the projects are expected to produce commercial products for years to come, the Obama administration is emphasizing the early signs of success as it seeks to persuade a sometimes skeptical Congress to approve more money for clean energy innovation.

Success is probably 10 to 20 years away, said Arun Mujamdar, director of the program, which is called the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.

But the private investment is “a good sign, an endorsement of some sort,” he said. “The best thing the government can do is to catalyze investment.” Read more

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