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Google PowerMeter: It’s Our Gift to Humanity, Really

Michael Kanellos: November 19, 2009, 5:32 PM

Ed Lu, the former astronaut who now works as a program manager for advanced projects at Google, says that Google does not see PowerMeter, the software it created for monitoring energy in your home, as a way to make money.

"We are not trying to build a business model around it," he said.

The project comes out of, the company's philanthropic arm, so Lu gets rated on things other than profit, he explained to an audience at Greenbeat taking place in San Mateo. Data collected through PowerMeter is yours to keep. "Customers should control it. They can delete it," he said.

Saying things that people don't have to take seriously is one of the hallmarks of success in corporate...

Following the Money in Smart Grid

Eric Wesoff: November 19, 2009, 5:06 PM

Camille Ricketts of Venture Beat moderated a panel on VC investment in smart grid at the Greenbeat event this morning.

Here are a few notable observations and quotes from the investors on the panel.

Peter Wagner of Accel Partners:

  • He's very interested in the issues in the charging and control of EVs.
  • He encourages entrepreneurs to find customers who are not the utility – go direct to a consumer.
  • Wagner is looking for the company that looks like Opower meets Playfish – bringing social networking plus energy monitoring direct to the consumer
  • "Wouldn't be surprised to see Cisco acquire Silver Spring Networks – although Cisco is probably tired of being extorted in the M&A market." (See...

Microsoft Turns Sacramento Onto Hohm

Jeff St. John: November 19, 2009, 1:07 PM

Microsoft turned on the data feeds to its Hohm home energy monitoring platform at a third utility on Thursday – the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

SMUD has 1.4 million customers, and all will now be able to see their monthly power bills through the Hohm web-based platform, Microsoft planned to announce Thursday morning at the utility's Sacramento, Calif. headquarters.

Microsoft has already enabled similar functionality at two other utilities – Xcel Energy, with 3.4 million customers, and Seattle City Light, with about one million customers (see Green Light post).

The monthly data – which doesn't require a smart meter to be delivered to customers – can be linked with...

News Corp. Picks Hara for Carbon Accounting

Jeff St. John: November 19, 2009, 12:50 PM

Hara, the carbon and energy accounting software that's landed such clients as Coca-Cola and the cities of Palo Alto and San Jose, has gained another big client – Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

Hara will provide its Environmental and Energy Management platform to help the media giant measure and analyze energy and emissions information from hundreds of facilities around the world, the two announced Thursday.

Chalk it up as another big win for the two year old, Menlo Park, Calif.-based startup, which came out of stealth mode in May with news that it had raised $6 million from VC powerhouse Kleiner Perkins, Caufield & Byers (see Energy Management Startup Hara Lands Coke as Client, $6M From...

Video: Cleaning the Ocean With Carbon

Michael Kanellos: November 19, 2009, 9:05 AM

SAN FRANCISCO -- Here's something you don't expect to see.

A-Z Comp, a startup from Russia, wants to use graphene, a type of carbon molecule, to clean up oil spills. When oil spills into the ocean, it sticks together in a muddy pool. You can actually move a tiny slick around with your hand.

When graphene is sprinkled onto the slick, the oil slick breaks up. The oil bonds to the solid and then gets swept out of the water when the graphene gets sucked up. Picking out the graphene is like pulling out sand. Watch it in the video. There was no oil left in the bucket.

Another cool thing: Graphene is incredibly light. The spice jar full of graphene weighed only a few ounces. Far less...

KP’s John Doerr on Greentech: ‘The Largest Economic Opportunity of the 21st Century’

Eric Wesoff: November 19, 2009, 1:39 AM

Introduced by Venture Beat's Matt Marshall as "The best known investor in Web 1.0, involved in the founding of Amazon, Netscape, and Google," John Doerr and his firm, Kleiner Perkins, have raised a billion dollars to be channeled into greentech. 

"Greentech could be the largest economic opportunity of the 21st century," said Doerr.

Speaking at Venture Beat's inaugural Smart Grid event in San Mateo Calif., he offered his usual thoughts on greentech governent spending, the daughter Mary story ("Your generation created this problem you better fix it.") but he did add some interesting quotes:

  • "The internet is a $1 trillion economy. Compare that with the energy business, a $6 trillion...

$1B Polysilicon Plant in Saudi Arabia

Ucilia Wang: November 18, 2009, 3:43 PM

The First Energy Bank of Bahrain plans to build a polysilicon plant in Saudia Arabia to serve an increasing demand for solar energy generation in the Middle East.

The bank said it's teaming up with Project Management and Development Co. in Saudi Arabia to build the factory, which would cost about $1 billion, reported the Reuters. The factory would have an annual capacity of 7,500 tons; production is set to begin in 2013.

The Islamic bank plans to finance the project with 40 percent equity and 60 percent debt. Part of that debt would come from the Saudi government.

The developers already have signed an off-take agreement with Vinmar International in the United States, a petrochemical...