Yesterday’s 7th annual Clean Energy Trust Challenge was truly inspiring. We heard pitches from eight promising early stage clean tech start ups, and nearly $1 million was awarded. Congrats to SUN BUCKET of Champaign, IL, winner of the Hanley Foundation prize (among others). They have created a portable cook stove without flames, fuel or emissions. Charged by the sun in one hour, it provides a high temperature stove for 6 hours – making cooking easier and more affordable for families in the developing world. According to the World Health Organization, 3 billion people across the globe burn solid fuels such as wood, charcoal, and animal waste to cook and heat their homes. The indoor air pollution from these fires causes respiratory illnesses that leads to 4 million premature deaths each year – the leading cause of death in children under the age of 5 in the Global South The cost of these fuel sources can eat up more than a quarter of a family’s income, and the time-consuming job of collecting free fuel sources keeps women from paid work and children out of school. Indoor cook fires are also responsible for homes fires, burn accidents and approximately 25% of black carbon emissions. Sun Buckets are currently used in Haiti and we hope this safe, sustainable solution spreads far and wide. 
Impressive guest speakers at the Challenge included Henk Rogers of Blue Planet Energy Systems and Blue Planet Foundation who is working to end the use of carbon-based fuel in Hawaii and worldwide. Also, Mary Powell, CEO of Green Mountain Power, shared her energy revolution efforts. Her acclaimed Vermont utility is the first to provide off grid renewables with the Tesla Powerwall, and uniquely promotes a culture based on “customer obsession” and love, love, love to reach better solutions.