Recent Posts:

eIQ Unstealths: Another Entrant in PV Balance of System

Eric Wesoff: August 31, 2009, 8:02 PM

Until recently, the electronics used in PV systems – inverters and Balance of System (BOS) have been an overlooked and underinvested part of the solar ecosystem, despite being a more than $2.2 billion market.

But in the last two years, there has been a surge in investment and entrepreneurial activity in solar BoS. We have listed all of the companies in this sub-sector here.

eIQ Energy, a startup in this market, founded in 2007 with a staff of 25 located in San Jose, Calif. just emerged from stealth today. The firm falls into the distributed maximum power point tracking camp (as opposed to the microinverter camp) and has a new slant on the distributed electronics angle.
 
I spoke with...

A Technology Contest for Water Experts

Michael Kanellos: August 31, 2009, 3:55 PM

Imagine H2O will start accepting applications for a contest to find new, commercially practical ideas for alleviating some of the world's water problem.

The non-profit will give away awards of up to $70,000 in cash, prizes and services, but more importantly it will help incubate companies from the ideas. The organizations members include executives from General Electric, Harvard Business School, McKinsey & Co., Trinity Ventures, CMEA, Catamount Ventures and other places. One of the chief obstacles facing water entrepreneurs remains getting noticed, so these connections will help.

Water, according to many, is the perhaps the first major crisis that will emerge from climate change....

Battelle, Areva, IBM and Northwest Utilities Plan $178M Smart Grid Demo

Jeff St. John: August 31, 2009, 1:14 PM

A consortium of Pacific Northwest utilities have joined Battelle, Areva and IBM in seeking Department of Energy stimulus funding for a $178 million project that could be one of the broadest smart grid demonstration projects to date.

The Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project wants to collect energy usage data from 60,000 utility customers and 112 megawatts of energy generation capacity across five northwestern states.

The partners want to spend $178 million over five years to collect information from 15 test sites across a wide range of geographies and population types, as well as test a number of technologies to monitor the transmission system and give homeowners insight...

Wyoming: The Land of Wind and Money

Ucilia Wang: August 31, 2009, 12:50 PM

Duke Energy seems to have carved out a good business building wind farms and selling electricity to other utilities. The company said Monday it's set to erect a 200-megawatt project near Casper, Wyo., making it the ninth wind farm for the company in the United States.

The project, which Duke has named The Top of the World Windpower Project, will land on 17,000 acres of public and private in Converse County.

PacifiCorp has agreed to buy the power as well as the project's renewable energy credits from Duke, which declined to disclose the terms of the contract. Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke expects to bring the project online by the end of 2010.

PacifiCorp is a returning customer. It...

Exotic Solar Cell Maker Cyrium Gets Its Full-Time CEO

Michael Kanellos: August 31, 2009, 11:59 AM

Cyrium Technologies said today that Harry Rozakis, a veteran of the chip industry, will become the new CEO.

The Canadian company has touted solar cells that can convert 40 percent or more of the light that strikes them into electricity. The cells aren't made of silicon, which some experts say maxes out at 29 percent efficiency. Instead, it makes quantum dot triple junction solar cells. These cells could then be placed under a a concentrator to crank out power. But it's exotic science so naturally you don't see stacks of them next to the barbecues at Home Depot yet. The technology largely emerged from the Simon Fafard. Steve Eglash, a venture capitalists, took over as CEO in December...

Green Odds and Ends: Quotes and More

Eric Wesoff: August 31, 2009, 2:19 AM

Energy Quotes:

"There are liars, damn liars and battery guys. Although fuel cells are a different class altogether."
– Jeff Depew, CEO and Co-Founder of lithium-ion battery firm Imara  

"Utilities are the largest users of electricity in the U.S." 
(Explained by the fact that 7 percent of electrical generation is wasted in transmission losses; Ohm's law you know. This is quite the argument for distributed generation and solar on rooftops.)
– Erfan Ibrahim, EPRI

"Fundamentally VCs are risk adverse – they want no risk in the deal, if we could handle risk we'd be entrepreneurs."
– Victor Westerlind, General Partner at Cleantech VC firm Rockport Capital

A Few More Things

• EnPhase has...

When France Ruled Greentech

Michael Kanellos: August 30, 2009, 2:28 PM

It's hard to believe, but the push for solar power pre-dates the oil industry by 20 years.

Back in 1839, 170 years ago, Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect while experimenting with an electrolyte cell. (France was an early leader in solar power. A year later, August Mouchet proposed the idea of solar-powered steam engines.) Granted, Bell Labs invented the first silicon PV cell in 1954, 55 years ago, and the idea of harnessing power from the sun dates back to the ancient world. But Becquerel's discovery really served as a foundation of the modern solar world.

Then, in 1859, 150 years ago, Gaston Plante invented the lead acid battery. He demonstrated it at the French...