Recent Posts:

California Declares Water Crisis; Has Time Come for Water Grid?

Michael Kanellos: February 28, 2009, 5:43 AM
Here's a flashback from the 1970s: California has declared a water crisis that may extend several years into the future because of a combination of drought, population increases and inefficient water use. The Sierra Nevada snow pack is 57 percent of normal, according to the Department of Water Resources. Shasta Lake, one of the big reservoirs with a capacity of 4.5 million acre/feet, is at 42 percent capacity, a decline from 57 percent last year. Urban areas will be asked to curb consumption by 20 percent. For years experts have warned that the water crisis will sneak up fast on the public and here it is. So what can be done? While desalination and other water...

Nichia and Seoul to End Global LED Patent Wars

Eric Lane: February 27, 2009, 10:07 AM
Earlier this month Nichia and Seoul Semiconductor (Seoul), whose bitter LED patent battles spanned courts and administrative bodies across three continents, announced that they have resolved almost all of their litigation.  The parties will enter a cross-licensing agreement covering their LED and laser diode technology. The disputes included patent infringement claims involving utility and design patents, false advertising and defamation claims, as well as claims of anti-competitive conduct.  The suits raged in Europe, Japan, Korea and Germany, as well as multiple U.S. jurisdictions, including Texas, California, Michigan and the International Trade Commission. Some of the...

San Francisco Files Wave Power Application

Michael Kanellos: February 27, 2009, 8:33 AM
The City of San Francisco has filed an application for a wave power farm that could produce up to 30 megawatts of power. Details, however, are vague to nonexistent. What sort of wave machines would be built? Who would own and maintain them, etc. All that is TBA. Nonetheless it's a start. Wave and tidal power are in the embryonic stages but proponents say the business could take off in the 2010s. Pelamis Wave Power launched the first commercial wave power device off the coast of Portugal last Fall and a couple of companies, such as Ireland's Open Hydro (tidal power), have launched large-scale prototypes. The big challenges? Building something that can survive Neptune's fury....

Sempra Wants DOE Loan Guarantees to Expand Low-Cost Solar Plant

Jeff St. John: February 27, 2009, 8:32 AM
Sempra Energy, owner and operator of what some have called the cheapest solar photovoltaic power plant in the world, wants to expand the project from 10 megawatts to 50 megawatts starting this year — but the utility holding company will need federal loan guarantees to do it. So the timeline for a $200 million expansion of Sempra's El Dorado solar plant will depend on how fast the Department of Energy can start disbursing loan guarantees called for in the massive stimulus package signed into law last week, Sempra CEO Michael Allman said Friday. "If we're able to get the loan subsidy, we could be breaking ground in the second quarter on the world's largest PV plant," Allman...

White House Budget: More Research, Carbon Capture; Less Yucca Mountain

Michael Kanellos: February 26, 2009, 2:51 PM
The White House revealed its budget proposals for fiscal 2010 and it pretty much sticks with the plans already laid out by the President. The White House has proposed a $26.8 billion budget for the Department of Energy. That's lower than the $33.9 budget for 2009. The difference comes because the 2010 budget does not include the $7.5 billion in emergency loans or the $250 weatherization programs. It is higher than the budgets for 2006 ($23.6 billion), 207 ($23.7 billion) or 2008 ($24.1 billion.). The 2010 totals, however, don't include the $39 billion that will go to the smart grid and solar industries (among others) through the Recovery Act so the total going to energy is a lot...

Silver Spring Names Exegin Technologies as Its ZigBee Partner

Jeff St. John: February 26, 2009, 2:47 PM

Silver Spring Networks on Thursday revealed the company behind its ZigBee-enabled smart meter communications — Vancouver-based Exegin Technologies Ltd.

Silver Spring, the high-profile startup that’s providing the communications and networking equipment for hundreds of thousands of smart meters being deployed by Pacific Gas & Electric, Florida Power & Light, American Electric Power and other utilities, has been on the ZigBee bandwagon for months.

That makes sense, since the protocol based on the 802.15.4 standard is emerging as a favorite for bringing communications from smart meters to in-home power monitoring and control equipment.

Being part of Silver Spring’s system puts...

‘Cash for Solar’ Doesn’t Apply to Residential Projects

Ucilia Wang: February 26, 2009, 1:52 PM

When we listed the incentives in the $787 billion federal stimulus package two weeks ago, we reported that a provision that would convert the 30 percent investment tax credit into a cash payment for commercial solar projects would also apply to residential solar installations. It turned out the information we received from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) was incorrect. A rep for the SEIA now tells us there was “some miscommunication down the chain.???

We'd like to thank Kirstin Hoefer, chief marketing officer for Sungevity, a solar installer in Berkeley, Calif., for explaining that residential installations won’t benefit from the cash-payment provision. But they...