Recent Posts:

eIQ Unstealths: Another Entrant in PV Balance of System

Eric Wesoff: August 31, 2009, 9:03 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...

Green Odds and Ends: Quotes and More

Eric Wesoff: August 31, 2009, 3:19 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...

Flurry of Energy Storage Investments, News and Analysis

Eric Wesoff: August 28, 2009, 4:02 PM

August is usually a quiet month in Venture Capital, but this month saw at least five new investments in batteries, fuel cells, and energy storage:

  • CFX Battery closed $5 million of a $27 million Series B, according to a regulatory filing spotted by PEHub. The firm builds primary and rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.  Previous investors include CMEA Ventures, Harris & Harris, and USVP.
  • ClearEdge Power builds fuel cell-based Combined Heat and Power (CHP) powered by propane or natural gas. They raised a $15 million Round E from Applied Ventures, Big Basin Ventures, the Kohlberg family, et al.  PE Hub sighted this in a regulatory filing.
  • Pragma, a PEM hydrogen fuel cell developer...

Green Odds and Ends: DOD Bloopers and More

Eric Wesoff: August 26, 2009, 7:04 PM

The hippies at the Department of Defense get their Green on at this well designed website.  The site includes a video on the 14-MW Nellis Airforce Base solar installation that contains easily the worst explanation of PV technolgy ever committed to film here by Michelle Price, Nellis AFB Energy Manager.

Video of Lissa Morgenthaler-Jones, CEO of LiveFuels explaining the recent change in business plan from algae oil to fish oil.  PETA is not going to be happy.

Rain water catchment systems from Rain Water HOG.  Rainwater can be used for watering the garden, toilet flushing, laundry washing, and bathing.

UC Berkeley and Prescience Intl are offering 10 scholarships to the Cleantech...

LiveFuels: Fishing With the Joneses

Eric Wesoff: August 26, 2009, 12:40 PM

I had a long conversation with Dave Jones, the COO of LiveFuels over breakfast at Buck's last week. LiveFuels recently announced a shift in its business plan – moving from algae harvester and algae fuel company to fish aquaculturist/fish oil/biofuel/co-products supplier. 

I'm working on a larger look at biofuels from algae that takes into account the many recent announcements and my interviews in the algae realm (Exxon, SGI, Algenol, BP, Martek, etc.).  But I wanted to give a quick take on LiveFuels. Mr. Kanellos reported on the LiveFuels fish story here.

It's not unusual for a startup's business plan to shift from its original idea – many successful VC-funded firms have undergone...

Overcrowding the PV Inverter/Distributed Electronics Field

Eric Wesoff: August 25, 2009, 6:41 PM

The interesting microinverter/distributed electronics field is now officially oversupplied.

The only firm who is actually shipping is Enphase with well over 30,000 units installed. National Semi, Tigo, and Solar Edge seem to be getting some sales traction and forming partnerships with solar module manufacturers and installers. And Petra Solar has booked some orders.

I'm adding a few more startups to the rapidly growing list of entrants in this rapidly innovating sector.

eWatz – According to LinkedIn, eWatz is developing a hardware/software solution using standards based open architecture for measuring, monitoring and maximizing photovoltaic solar panels and other renewable energies.

...

MegaWatt Storage Farms: Energy Storage Developer

Eric Wesoff: August 20, 2009, 4:09 PM

MegaWatt Storage Farms is a storage developer, a new entity – like a solar developer, except with energy storage. And like a solar developer, they are somewhat technology agnostic.

Some background. California, like many states, is in a race to reach ambitious Renewable Portfolio Standards and is increasingly bringing solar and wind farms online. Both of these energy sources are less than consistent. 

Here's an example of a "spaghetti chart" on a wind farm's output. The average is steady but the hour to hour change is striking. 

And here's an example of solar on a minute to minute basis. 



These are just some of the sources of volatility that are straining the electrical generation,...