X, the “moonshot factory” at Google’s parent company Alphabet, is working on several breakthrough energy solutions -- from molten salt batteries, to high-altitude wind turbines, to fuel made from seawater -- in a quest to solve climate change.
Not all ideas work, Astro Teller, the head of X, recently explained. And among the ones that do, Alphabet may not be the right entity to bring them to market, he said.
Which is why Dandelion was spun off in June 2017.
Dandelion is a geothermal heating and cooling company with X-developed technology capable of reducing the drilling time for a geothermal system from several weeks to several hours. As the company plans for a significant territory and technology expansion in 2018, it just poached some top talent from the solar industry.
The company announced this week that Ryan Hunter is joining Dandelion as the vice president operations. Hunter most recently served as the senior vice president of installation operations at Sungevity, where he led a team of more than 120 people and a network of more than 50 installation partners. Hunter previously held senior positions at SolarCity and Meridian Solar.
This week, Dandelion also welcomed Brian Zimmerly as director of product engineering. Zimmerly previously held the title of senior engineer at Tesla, where he developed and deployed new technologies, including combined solar, battery storage and energy management.
Hunter and Zimmerly will join the team of James Quazi, Dandelion’s co-founder and CTO. Quazi sold his first energy technology startup, Building Solutions, to SolarCity, then continued on as SolarCity’s director of energy efficiency services. Dandelion CEO Kathy (Cooper) Hannun is a former employee at Alphabet’s X, where she built a reputation for taking risks, coping well with failures and moving forward quickly.
“The geothermal industry today is very similar to where the solar industry was 15 years ago -- expensive and largely confined to the earliest adopters, but poised for mainstream adoption,” said Hannun. “Our goal is to make geothermal as cost-effective and popular as solar has become, and we’re thrilled to have top talent from the industry.”
Listen to Hannun describe the company on The Interchange podcast.
It’s been a year of transition for pioneering inverter supplier Enphase Energy. In August, the firm let go of CEO Paul Nahi amidst a long struggle to attain profitability. A month later, Chief Operating Officer Badri Kothandaraman was appointed to take on the CEO role. This week, Enphase named David Ranhoff, former president and CEO of GCL Solar Materials, to the new position of vice president and chief commercial officer. An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Ranoff would be taking Kothandaraman's old role chief operating officer.
In the CCO role, Ranoff will be responsible for all customer-facing activities, including global sales, marketing and customer support. Kothandaraman praised Ranoff for his 30 years of executive management, sales and marketing experience in the solar industry, “with a proven track record of developing and executing aggressive growth strategies in very competitive markets.”
Enphase is banking on aggressive growth to support its financial recovery. The company posted $6.7 million in net losses in the third quarter of 2017, which marks an improvement over $12.1 million in net losses in the second quarter, and a net loss of $18.8 million in the third quarter of last year. Enphase also reported $77 million in revenue for Q3, which is up 3 percent over Q2.
The coming months will be key as the company continues to roll out its Energized AC module products and seeks to sell its seventh-generation IQ product worldwide in the first quarter of 2018. "These transitions, along with our continued focus on operational excellence, will help drive further gross margin improvement,” Kothandaraman said.
Meanwhile, the solar power optimization and inverter maker SolarEdge had a fantastic third quarter, with revenues climbing 22 percent from the previous year. SolarEdge entered the fourth quarter with a new VP of North American marketing, Dimitrios Papadogonas. Papadogonas was previously the VP of marketing at ChargePoint and the director of marketing at Virgin America.
Enertech Search Partners, an executive search firm with a dedicated cleantech practice, is the sponsor of the GTM jobs column.
Among its many active searches, Enertech is looking for a project finance manager.
Our client is a global leader in solar innovation, committed to becoming a leader in distributed energy and digital platforms. By leveraging their diversified global portfolio in residential and commercial utility, they are prepared to aggressively grow market share.
We are looking for someone who has tax-equity investor and investment experience, as well as equity and debt fundraising experience and strong knowledge of solar financing structures, including partnerships, leases and secured debt structures.
On November 29, Richard Glick was sworn in as commissioner at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). He is the fourth commissioner to join the five-member regulatory body, which is still waiting for the confirmation of Chairman Kevin McIntyre. Glick (a Democrat) and McIntyre (a Republican) were both nominated by President Trump and confirmed by the Senate last month. Both appointees have since faced unusually long delays for their swearing in ceremonies, causing some to believe it may have been for political reasons.
Once McIntyre is sworn in, FERC will have regained full membership for the first time in nearly a year. The commission faces a backlog of work after losing quorum in February when Commissioner Norman Bay announced his resignation. With just two commissioners remaining, FERC was hobbled for roughly six months until the commission finally regained a quorum in August.
Glick, and eventually McIntyre, will join interim chairman Neil Chatterjee and commissioners Cheryl LaFleur and Robert Powelson. One of the most pressing items on FERC’s agenda is to address the Department of Energy’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR), which seeks to alter federal energy regulations to favor coal and nuclear power plants in the name of grid resilience. FERC is expected to vote on the NOPR in a December 11 meeting. It’s uncertain if McIntyre will have officially joined the commission by then.
It’s unlikely that FERC will have prepared a final rule in response to the NOPR by next week, but the commission could vote to take additional action, rather than approve or reject the NOPR outright. Chatterjee, a Trump appointee and former aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.), has already said he is working on a short-term plan to keep at-risk coal and nuclear plants “afloat.” Chatterjee said Glick and McIntyre have yet to review the proposal.
Sunrun brought on customer service guru Evelyn Huang last month, to serve as the residential solar company’s Customer Experience Officer. The hire comes as Sunrun pushes further into energy storage and energy services, and as home solar companies continue to struggle with high customer-acquisition costs. According to GTM Research, those costs actually increased from the first half to the second half of this year.
Huang recently served as vice president of design thinking and strategy at Capital One, where she’s credited with transforming the company culture and making the firm a leader in customer experience. Huang will lead Sunrun’s brand, marketing, products, customer realization and corporate communications teams, and report directly to CEO Lynn Jurich.
Ben Macias announced via LinkedIn that he has returned to Shoals Technologies Group as vice president of sales. Macias heads to Shoals from NEXTracker, where he served as sales director for the Eastern U.S. NEXTracker, meanwhile, just launched a new lithium-ion energy storage product today.
Solar panel manufacturing firm REC Group has hired Cary Hayes as the new vice president of sales and marketing for the Americas region. Hayes recently served as vice president of sales and business development at Clean Focus Renewables. He's no stranger to REC, having been a key member of the original team that brought REC Group to the U.S. market in 2008.
In 2010, REC opened its vertically integrated manufacturing facilities in Singapore. This fall, the U.S. International Trade Commission established Singapore as a free trade zone under the pending Section 201 solar case. If President Trump adopts one of the ITC’s recommendations, it could put REC at a significant advantage over its competitors.
Coryn DeGrands, formerly of Emerson Electric, Siemens Industry and Johnson Controls, has joined behind-the-meter energy solutions startup Go Electric as vice president of sales and marketing. Her responsibility will be to build the Go Electric brand and continue to attract new customers.
Former BMW executive Stefan Krause was ousted as CFO of struggling electric-vehicle startup Faraday Future in a dramatic fashion last month, The Verge reports. Faraday actually lost three top executives in recent weeks, but has been particularly aggressive in comments on Krause’s departure, accusing the now-former CFO of “malfeasance and dereliction of duty,” as well as a “possible violation of law,” in a company press release. Krause said these statements are “baseless and defamatory” and that he has lawyered up.
Silicon Catalyst, an incubator focused exclusively on solutions in silicon, has hired former NXP vice president and general manager Pete Rodriguez as COO. Rodriguez is a veteran of the semiconductor industry, serving as CEO of Exar Corporation, CEO of Xpedion Design Systems, and chief marketing officer at Virage Logic, prior to NXP.
Silicon Catalyst has grown to 14 portfolio companies and 20 partners. In the past 24 months, the incubator has screened more than 140 startups from across the U.S., Europe and Asia and has admitted 14 to its program. These startups are developing innovations in energy harvesting, silicon photonics, smart lighting, machine learning and much more. Silicon Catalyst expects to double in the coming year. Rodriguez's experience is expected to help guide this growth.
Urs Gisiger has been named managing director of Crescendo Power, a Texas-based project investment company that focuses on behind-the-meter distributed energy and microgrid systems. Crescendo Power launched its fund in April 2017, and is looking to finalize its first project investment by the end of March 2018. Gisiger is charged with leading the firm's Boston office.
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