Recent Posts:

Solar Startups, Part 1: c-Si, Installers, Financiers, BoS, Misc. (Updated May 20)

Eric Wesoff: November 30, 2008, 5:27 PM

Over the last four years VC investment in solar has gone from a modest trickle to a roaring flood. In 2005 VCs invested about $200 million in solar startups. When the dust settles at the end of 2008, they will have invested about $4.5 billion in about 150 new solar startups in the four years from 2005 to 2008.

We've compiled a list of these firms with funding info and a few words on each startup's technology.

In Part 1 we’ll cover:

  • Silicon Wafer Technology (c-Si)
  • Solar Installers and Solar Financing Firms
  • Solar Balance of Plant (Inverters etc.)
  • Solar System Monitoring, Manufacturing Tools and Software

In the coming installments we'll cover

  • CPV
  • Next Gen PV
  • Thin-Film Solar
  • ...

Carbon Dioxide to Baking Soda: A Second Take on the Concept

Michael Kanellos: November 26, 2008, 8:46 AM
The University of Calgary is working on a tower that will capture carbon dioxide in the air, rather than through a smokestack, with a chemical formula that seems to have some momentum. There is a lot more CO2 floating around the atmosphere than coming out of smokestacks. Many people emitting CO2 also can't or won't pay for scrubbers. Thus, this could be a way to capture the billions of light and occasional polluters out there, assuming someone is willing to pay for the devices. Climate scientist David Keith and his team showed they could capture CO2 directly from the air with less than 100 kilowatt hours of electricity per ton of carbon dioxide with the tower. The tower also was...

When It Comes to Limiting Emissions Targets, Automakers Lose Again

Michael Kanellos: November 26, 2008, 7:16 AM
Why do the Big Three in Detroit need $25 billion? To pay their legal fees. Several automakers asked the Federal District Court for the District of Rhode Island to block the state's plans to restrict carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Green Inc. blog at the New York Times. The law is similar to one passed in California. Automakers, however, have lost cases in Vermont and California already, and Judge Ernest Torres said that that's enough. "It is difficult to see what interest the public has in permitting the plaintiffs another bite of the apple in challenging regulations limiting the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere,??? wrote Judge Torres, according to...

California’s Biggest Builder Dips Into VC Investing

Michael Kanellos: November 25, 2008, 9:48 AM
Webcor -- a name that people in California see emblazoned on construction cranes and job sites all over the state -- will become a limited partner in a green building fund managed by Navitas Capital. Last month, the two companies signed a strategic agreement under which Navitas agreed to help Webcor identify promising greentech startups. The two deals underscore the growing momentum for green buildings. Webcor is the largest builder in California and a substantial portion of its revenue comes from LEED-based projects. By teaming up with Navitas, Webcor potentially will be able to find out about emerging green building technologies and even profit from them. Small companies,...

L.A. Trots Out Ambitious Solar Plan

Michael Kanellos: November 24, 2008, 12:18 PM

Los Angeles Mayor Antonia Villaraigosa unveiled an ambitious solar plan today that seeks to get 1.3 gigawatts of L.A.'s power directly from the sun by the year 2020.

If the plan and other programs succeed, the city will get approximately 35 percent of its power from renewables. Right now, L.A. only gets around 10 percent from solar, biomass, wind and other renewable sources (not including large hydroelectric dams.). The 35 percent mark would even surpass the overall goal the state has set for itself.

The plan breaks down into three elements. One segment will revolve around homes. The city's goal is to get consumers to put 380-MW worth of solar panels on their roofs by 2020....

Flex-Fuel Cars Not Reducing Gas Consumption

Michael Kanellos: November 23, 2008, 5:14 PM
A story from the Washington Post (via the San Francisco Chronicle) provides data for a problem many have suspected for a while -- flex-fuel vehicles aren't really boosting ethanol consumption or reducing gas guzzling. The federal government has purchased 112,000 flex-fuel vehicles -- which can accommodate gas (a hydrocarbon) or ethanol (an alcohol) -- over the last 16 years under a program installed after Gulf War I to reduce gas consumption, according to the article. However, most federal drivers are just putting gas in the tank. Ninety-two percent of the government's cars in this program run on gas. Whoops. In some cases, fuel consumption has gone up. The Postal Service wanted...

Some Ugly Numbers for the Electric Car Industry

Michael Kanellos: November 21, 2008, 6:00 AM
All-electric cars are a great idea, in theory. And they are much more technically feasible than jet packs or monorails, two of the other big transportation ideas from the mid-1960s. (Everything I know about technology I learned on the Johnny Quest show.) Unfortunately, the economics still don't add up very well. Batteries cost a lot and the cars themselves can only go between 150 and 250 miles before needing an recharge (which takes hours) or battery swap (which will be a sketchy concept for consumers to swallow). Here's some of the signs from this week: Tesla Motors is seeking $400 million in loans from the federal government, according to peHub. The company has already burned...