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Venture Capital Lights Up Solar in Q3

Eric Wesoff: September 30, 2009, 11:16 PM

We reported earlier this week on the resurgence of venture capital investment in greentech. We broke it out sector-by-sector in this post. The graph above breaks it down year-by-year and looks at the recovery quarter by quarter

The chart below is another example of some of the work done in the Greentech Innovations Report – where we carefully track every VC deal in greentech as well as report on a different renewable energy topic every issue.

Investors channeled $575 million into 29 solar VC deals in the third quarter.  The investments spanned the solar sector and ranged from the fanciful (solar in space from SolarEn) to the sublime.  Notable in this data is the number of small...

Google Testing Car Charging Software, Links to PowerMeter

Jeff St. John: September 30, 2009, 4:20 PM

Someday, electricity meters attached to the sides of houses will need to talk to plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles parked in garages. Google is working on it.

The Internet search giant is experimenting with software to control car charging, and sees "potential intersections" for that software and its PowerMeter home energy management platform.

That's according to Dan Reicher, Google's director of Climate Change and Energy Initiatives, speaking Wednesday on the sidelines of the Renewable Energy Finance Forum-WEST conference in San Francisco.

"The plug-in car will be the largest appliance in the house" in terms of power consumption, Reicher said.

Sophisticated software will be needed...

Until Recently, Few Knew About U.S. Solar Import Tariff

Ucilia Wang: September 30, 2009, 4:02 PM

The United States has a rule in place to impose a 2.5 percent tariff on imported solar panels. Except, few knew about it until recent weeks.

The U.S. customs decided in January this year that the tariff exists, after an American Subsidiary of a Spanish company asked about it, reported the New York Times.

But that decision apparently didn't become widely known even though the customs service posted it on its website. When it became more widely known in recent weeks, bigwigs in the solar industry tried to keep it mum while meeting to figure out what to do, the Times reported.

One legal strategy is to challenge the custom officials' decision to classify solar panels as electrical...

Gevo Converts Ethanol Plant to Make Biobutanol, Looks for More

Jeff St. John: September 30, 2009, 11:23 AM

Gevo wants to take closed-down ethanol plants and retrofit them to make an alternative biofuel – biobutanol – from agricultural waste.

On Wednesday, it announced that it has started up one such plant, and that more could be coming soon. Actually, it's been talking about this already--there is an estimated 8 billion gallon ethanol capacity in the U.S. that costs $12 billion to build. It now only has about a $4 billion market value, board member Anup Jacob told us earlier this year – but now the formal annoucement comes.

Gevo said it will be able to make about 1 million gallons a year of biobutanol at a retrofitted ethanol plant in St. Joseph, Mo. It plans to have a commercial-scale...

The World’s Biggest Home Utility Bill? And Why Retrofitting Is About Software

Michael Kanellos: September 30, 2009, 6:01 AM

Sustainable Spaces bills itself as a company performing home energy retrofits and in the past year and a half it has become one of the more visible California companies in the market.

But its ultimate goal is to become a software company. That's crazy talk, you say. This picture is your proof. That's founder Matt Golden standing in front of one of the many white boards throughout the company's office that seek to create decision trees for the astounding number of variables one might find in a home. Do any of the residents have asthma? If yes, does the house have air conditioning? If yes...

"Every week we release new software," Golden said. "We're standardizing the data gathering."


Sen. Boxer Wants Tougher Emissions Goal

Ucilia Wang: September 29, 2009, 3:35 PM

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer is set to unveil a climate change bill tomorrow, but a draft of the legislation already is circulating publicly and includes an ambitious goal of cutting emissions by 20 percent below the 2005 levels by 2020.

That's higher than the 17 percent goal set by the bill passed by the House of Representatives in June this year.

Boxer, who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, is far from done with the bill. What she is set to unveil tomorrow would still be a draft that lacks some key provisions addressing how the government would distribute permits to companies that must buy them to keep emitting greenhouse gases.

Boxer is set to fill in some of the holes...

Pelamis Wave Power Jettisons Its CEO, Rough Waters Ahead?

Michael Kanellos: September 29, 2009, 1:23 PM

Pelamis Wave Power looks like it is taking in a bit of water.

Phil Metcalf has resigned as the CEO of the company by mutual agreement, according to Max Carcas, the business development director. Carcas, however, denied rumors that the company has or is contemplating layoffs. Pelamis has about 70 employees.

Right now, the company is concentrating on getting its next-generation device out the door and into the waters off of Scotland's Orkney Islands. The 170-meter long devices headed for the European Marine Energy Centre will be owned and tested by E.on. Carcas also reported that EDF and some Portuguese industrialists are interested in reviving a wave power experiment that was kicked...