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Anchorage to Join LED Cities Club

Michael Kanellos: July 29, 2008, 9:38 AM
This will be a good test to see if the light coming from light emitting diodes is warm enough. Anchorage, Alaska in conjunction with LED maker Cree will replace the 16,000 light fixtures, about one-fourth of the streetlights in town, with LEDs. The swap should save the city about $360,000 a year in electricity, judging by current prices. The city will likely save a similar amount of money in lower maintenance costs. LEDs last longer than traditional sodium lights so fewer maintenance crews are required. The city could also provide an interesting place to test the quality of light. LEDs have historically been bogged down by two issues: their comparatively high cost compared to...

Energy Notes and Scoops From Silicon Valley

Eric Wesoff: July 29, 2008, 3:05 AM
I was shopping in Whole Foods, Palo Alto the other day (Don’t get the wrong idea – I do not drive a Prius like our CEO, I drive a 1971 Datsun 240Z) and while buying cheese (Jarslberg, not Brie), I ran into a notable VC with an investment in an algae development company. This investor, who asked to remain nameless, lamented the difficulty of even finding the right species of algae, let alone scaling up to the volumes required. Then, buying chocolate, I ran into the CEO of another algae firm, also requesting anonymity (seems like a trend). He said that achieving real volume in algae to biodiesel production is four to seven years away. Which seems realistic but also seems to fall...

In Smart Metering, Watch Out for Tendril

Michael Kanellos: July 29, 2008, 2:57 AM
Twenty. That's the number of major utilities that are experimenting with the TREE (Tendril Residential Energy Ecosystem) from smart metering start-up Tendril. Fifteen of the utilities are engaged in lab tests with the Boulder-based company, four are preparing field pilots and another will kick off a commercial rollout to consumers in the next few weeks. Collectively, these these utilities serve 56 million customers, according to CEO Adrian Tuck. It's a notable achievement and, in the increasingly crowded field of smart metering and automated energy management, it is the sort of metric that will underscore who is winning and who is falling behind. Why? Utilities will be the...

Intel’s Solar Investment Surge

Eric Wesoff: July 29, 2008, 2:21 AM
Intel makes its third solar investment in the last month. Intel Capital continued its surge in the solar market with this morning’s announcement of a $12.5 million investment in precursor chemical company, Voltaix.  Founded in 1986, Voltaix makes electronic chemicals and gases used in semiconductor manufacturing and CVD precursors such as germane, used in the production of advanced PV cells. Voltaix’ materials are intended for in thin film PV cells using amorphous silicon, CdTe and CIGS (as opposed to wafered silicon).  The market share for thin film solar is only about 10% today but that share is expected to grow significantly over the next few years.   XsunX is one of...

Considering a Nuclear Future on Eve of British Energy Sale

Daniel Englander: July 29, 2008, 1:20 AM
British Energy, the UK's nuclear power monopoly, will likely be sold to Electricité de France this week in a deal valuing the company at close to $25 billion. Though negotiations are ongoing and the parties are still apart on the precise value per share of British Energy (EdF thinks the 750p per share valuation a bit too rich), both sides are expecting to end the week with the largest transfer of wealth from Britain to France since Jane Birkin married Serge Gainsbourg. For some, the sale has aroused feelings of economic nationalism. Unlike in the U.S., where we prefer to keep our state-owned enterprises at least nominally private, the Europeans have no problem taking an active...