Oakland Magazine: Green Businesses Flock to Alameda Point, April 2015


After years of dormancy since its closure as a Navy Base in 1997, Alameda Point has quietly become an incubator of new green energy and tech businesses. Its open space, old aircraft hangars, and light-industrial capabilities have attracted innovative businesses seeking to change how energy is generated and consumed.

Makani Power, Natel Energy, Saildrone, and Wrightspeed are among the green businesses that will soon occupy 175,000 square feet of space at Alameda Point. The latter company just signed a lease in January to move into an 110,000-square-foot hangar at the Point. Together with Makani and Natel Energy, Wrightspeed will generate some $1.4 million in annual lease income for Alameda, according to Eric Fonstein, development manager for the City of Alameda.


The Pioneers

Makani Power
What it does: Makani, whose name means wind in Hawaiian, is working on high-altitude kites to generate inexpensive wind power.
Other info: It’s part of Google X, the division of Google that produced Google Glass and is working on the driverless car.

Natel Energy
What it does: Natel has developed a hydropower turbine system as a new source of clean electricity that won’t disrupt water flow or irrigation of farmland and seeks to tap the undeveloped hydropower potential in the United States.
Other info: It was founded by the sister-and-brother team of Gia and Abe Schneider.

Saildrone Inc.
What it does: Saildrone makes an autonomous circumnavigation device to study the world’s oceans to redefine ocean monitoring, combining principles of sailing and ultra-efficient aero and hydrodynamics.
Other info: It can sail in shallow water and through marine debris.

What it does: It manufactures energy-saving electric powertrain units for delivery and garbage trucks to lower emissions.
Other info: The Wrightspeed CEO is Ian Wright, a co-founder of Tesla.