In smart grid, the alliances just keep coming.
Tendril announced today that it will work with Lockheed Martin to integrate Lockheed's SEEload demand response system into its building energy management system. Yesterday, Tendril revealed that it bought GroundedPower, which tries to get consumers to reduce their power consumption through behavioral dynamics similar to those used by Opower. It also raised $23 million in a fourth fundraising round. Tendril has now raised a total of $73 million.
This comprehensive approach to smart grid is catching on. Earlier in the week, Silver Spring Networks announced a demand response application and a household application that plays off some of the behavioral characteristics embedded in the products from Opower and GroundedPower. One can expect Google and Microsoft to soon tout the demand response capabilities of their home consoles. Soon, the number of alliances will make the market look like pre-World War I Europe.
--General Electric said it will come out with a bulb in 2011 that's really two in one. The hybrid bulb contains a both a compact fluorescent and a halogen light. The halogen flips on as soon as the light switch is hit. Then, when the CFL warms up and comes to full power, it goes off. The bulb exists to eliminate that annoying lag time of CFLs. A 15-watt version will put out as much light as a 60-watt incandescent. The bulb also contains only 1 mg of mercury, which is less than other CFLs. Still, the bulb will come out amid the LED onslaught. Will consumers care?
--Oliver Hamizeh of consulting firm PRTM writes in with a forecast for electric cars and battery prices:
"By 2020 PRTM estimates that EVs will have a 4% to 5% adoption rate; plug-in hybrid electric vehicles will be at 5% to 6%; and hybrid electric vehicles will reach 20%,” he says. “The commercial cost of lithium-ion batteries will see a 50% decline from today’s $650 per KWh to about $300 per kWh by 2020. This will be achieved through a mix of scale, operational efficiencies and technology advances. PRTM expects that HEV, PHEVs and BEVs will reach total cost of ownership parity by 2010, 2016 and 2018, respectively."
The car forecast is somewhat in line with the estimates from the Ford Motor Company, which believes that 25 percent of cars will partly or fully rely on electricity for propulsion but the vast majority will be plain hybrids. Better Place claims it is buying batteries for cars today for delivery in 2012 that cost $450 per kilowatt-hour. (Side note: battery prices will be a principal topic of discussion at the Networked EV conference taking place in San Francisco on November 9.)
--Brightsource Energy said that it will work with power giant Alstrom to bring solar thermal power plants to Europe and Africa. Alstrom is an investor in the company. Still, the announcement could lead to Brightsource participating in the North African thermal power plants under discussion. There is growing concern that thermal plants will have difficulty competing with utility-scale PV plants. Brightsource and others, of course, are trying to reduce the costs with more inexpensive reflectors and better integration of these plants with storage.
--Campbell Crossing, a partnership between the Department of Defense and Actus Lend Lease, showed off net-zero energy homes today in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The Department of Defense has set aggressive energy efficiency goals and a large percentage of the totals will come from getting bases to run more efficiently.
--ABB has won a $20 million contract for a substation in downtown Athens that will no doubt be a target for graffiti artists.
--And finally, SiOnyx, the Harvard spin-out that has come up with a way to make "black" silicon for solar panels, raised another $12.5 million. In a nutshell, the company uses lasers to alter the characteristics of silicon in a way that prevents the silicon from reflecting light. More light gets trapped and thus more power gets produced. The first application might be for cameras, but the potential for increasing efficiency in solar panels exists. Personal prediction: it will follow the route of Innovalight and 1366 Technologies and find an Asian partner that will want to incorporate SiOnyx technology into its solar modules. SiOnyx won't be doing modules on its own.