- Today the Department of Energy announced up to $20 million for research, development and demonstration of geothermal technologies. Geothermal is the sleeping giant in renewables, accounting for about 4.5% of the state of California's total power as of 2007. The funding is intended for "non-conventional" geothermal technologies, including including low-temperature fluids (up to 300° Fahrenheit), geothermal fluids recovered from oil and gas wells, and highly pressurized geothermal fluids. Expect to see companies in California and neighboring states jump on the funding, which is open until July 9.
- Southern California Edison is turning to SunLink to supply up to 50 megawatts of solar mounting equipment. The agreement is a boon for SunLink, which has installed hardware on about 100 MW of projects to date. The hardware will be used to install PV panels on commercial rooftops in San Bernardino and eastern Los Angeles Counties. Although there's been a major push to increase the performance of solar panels, there is also a shifting focus toward the cost of installation. The SunLink contract represents 20 percent of SCE's plan to build 250 MW of owner-installed and -operated PV systems over the next five years, so there's certainly more pieces of the pie for SunLink or other manufacturers of solar panel mounting systems to bid for in coming years.
- James Flatt has joined Synthetic Genomics as CTO, leaving Mascoma, the biofuel company that has been trying to raise a few hundred million for a demonstration plant. Craig Venter's Synthetic Genomics,which is looking to develop genetically modified organisms for fuel or for extracting more oil out of depleted wells, certainly has deeper pockets than Mascoma, which has reportedly missed some deadlines and scaled back some projects. Synthetic Genomics, on the other hand, announced a $300 million agreement with Exxon in July of last year to research and develop next-generation biofuels using photosynthetic algae. It appears that Flatt is looking to get in where the action (read: dollars) is.
- Kyocera announced it has completed interoperability testing of its WiMAX indoor pico base station with Cisco equipment. Kyocera, known for its position in solar, is also one of 33 Japanese companies that will be a part of upcoming smart grid tests at Los Alamos National Labs in New Mexico. Although WiMax is just one (and certainly not the most popular in the U.S.) communications network utilities are considering for smart grid networking, it is certainly still in the running. With Kyocera focusing on enhancing indoor coverage, it might be making a play to get more involved in home area networking.
- SynapSense introduced its Adaptive Control technology for data centers, which can save up to 35 percent on cooling costs by minimizing the fan energy needed to keep the data centers running at appropriate temperatures. Data centers account for 2.5 percent of the power in Northern California, with most of that power going to air conditioners. Currently countries like Iceland and Norway are destinations for data centers because of their cool temperature and more importantly, cold water to use for cooling. Not only will technologies like Adaptive Control help centers add IT load while cutting cooling capacity, it could help warmer regions become more competitive to host data centers.
- San Diego Gas & Electric announced a 20-year agreement with an LS Power subsidiary to for up to 130 megawatts of solar energy from the proposed Centinela Solar Energy facility in the Imperial Valley. The energy will be transmitted to San Diego via the future Sunrise Powerlink, a 120-mile, 500-kilovolt electric transmission line that is expected to be completed in 2012. The project will help SDG&E meet the company's voluntary commitment of 33 percent by 2020. The Sunrise Powerlink is just one major transmission project in California; Southern California Edison's Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project just completed its first phase to move 700 MW of energy to its customers.