Coulomb Technologies, which wants to plant charging stations all the way across this great land of ours, received $14 million in a second round of funding to get it moving toward that goal.
Coulomb plans to sell equipment and software for public charging stations and chargers for home use. Earlier, the company raised $3.75 million. In the long term, the company expects to garner its revenue from subscriptions. Consumers and fleet vehicle owners will pay subscription fees to be able to charge cars on the network, while convenience stores and others will give some of the revenue collected from the charging stations back to Coulomb after expenses are covered.
By contrast, Better Place will set up its own network and sell electricity directly to customers. Better Place also wants to install battery swapping stations and has talked about subsidizing the cost of the battery through fee-based charging services. Overall, Better Place seems more ambitious, but Coulomb seems more channel-friendly. You could see an AM-PM installing one of these stations right next to the propane tanks for home BBQ grills. But Better Place isn't the only firm out there targeting this approach. Ecotality and others are focused on charging stations and each has its own unique spin on the business model. It will likely be years before we know which one works best.
Meanwhile, Intuit has selected Hara, the company that makes software designed to track carbon and energy consumption, to keep records detailing the company's own energy consumption. Intuit has a goal of dropping carbon emissions by 15 percent by 2012 from a 2007 baseline. Hara, which is being tapped by Intuit to replace an existing vendor, was founded by SAP alumni and came out of stealth mode just last year. Even in this short amount of time, Hara has already landed News Corp., Coke and other captains of industry as customers. Still, industry insiders expect them to get bought out in a few years. SAP, Oracle, IBM and a few other giants want to own this space and will pay for companies with existing customers. To wit, SAP bought a small company earlier this year: Carbonetworks, a rival to Hara, which has also been growing rapidly.
Elsewhere, the Environmental Defense Fund has a short film on energy efficiency. Take a look.
Finally, OriginOil, which plans on making equipment for algae producers, says its pilot production facility is up and running. It has a throughput of 5 gallons per minute--a glacial pace--but the system seems to work. Like a few others, OriginOil wants to "milk" algae rather than kill it in the first batch. Most algae producers get the algae out by cracking the cell wall and extracting it. The cell wall and tissue get repackaged as protein for the pet food industry, but that means that the producer has to regrow a whole new crop. By milking algae, oil can be repeatedly extracted from the organism before it is killed off. In other words, they suck the vital fluids out of it and leave a dessicated husk at the end of the day. Remind you of work at all?