Smart Grid / Smart Energy

Archives for August 2011 « Recent Articles


Solyndra took a unique, and in my opinion counterintuitive, approach to PV module design. In the end, the approach was not cost competitive, and although the company went under more abruptly than many expected, its demise would not have raised many eyebrows if the company had not been the recipient of federal loan guarantees that were the subject of controversy. Setting the loan guarantee questions aside, I think the exit of an uncompetitive PV manufacturer is a sign that PV costs and subsidies are headed i

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Reflections on AREDAY 2011

By Rick Nicholson – 2 Comments

I recently attended the American Renewable Energy Day (AREDAY) summit in Aspen, Colorado, which was subtitled "Putting the Green in Green - Monetizing Carbon in the Global Economy."  This wasn't a typical event for an energy industry technology analyst like me.  I usually end up at events attended primarily by other energy industry insiders - energy and utility company executives, energy technology vendors, and some government and regulatory staff thrown in for good measure.  The AREDAY agend

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Fuel Cell 2.0

By Sam Jaffe

In the early 2000's, as investors were licking their wounds from the implosion, the siren song of fuel cell startups like Plug Power and Ballard entranced from afar. Invest in something real, something world-changing, their trumpets announced. For a short while, there was a boom in fuel cells as venture capitalists poured money into the technology. Fuel cells too had their bust, as the technology proved to be very difficult to make cheaply and durable. Now, much like the Internet sector has transfor

Photo of Jill FeblowitzOffline

Many utilities these days have been struggling with decisions about what to do with existing utility CIS systems in the face of new products and services made possible with smart metering and new technologies like time-based rates, expanded energy efficiency, demand response, net metering and fast charge electric vehicle programs.  Since replacement of a CIS is such a large commitment - both time and money - utilities are asking whether there are alternatives to a fork lift replacement.  Earlier t

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Yesterday I witnessed C3 break its long silence at an inaugural analyst day in San Mateo.  The six hour event included a synopsis of the company's vision and development, product demonstration, and overview of key client utilization. C3 presents the market with a software analytics solution that leverages big data to provide a holistic vision of enterprise operations quantified in terms of both energy consumption and GHG emissions.  The intimate relationship between energy consumption and greenhou

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Blink too fast, and you'll miss the stampede of Internet giants migrating away from the home energy management green field.  First Google trampled over PowerMeter in June 2011.  Read about here Or the extended version here A few weeks later, Microsoft left Hohm in the dust when it announced it would stop supporting the cloud based service in 2012.  Now, Cisco's announcement make

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California's three big investor-owned utilities (IOU) – Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison – received ruling on July 28, 2011 regarding customer data access and privacy. This order from California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) is an implementation of an already passed Senate Bill (SB) 1476, pertaining to consumer privacy in the smart metering infrastructure. With this ruling in place, commission will closely monitor the three IOUs activitie


BrightSource Energy Saves Some for Later

By Jay Holman

Today BrightSource Energy announced the launch of SolarPLUS, a new offering that incorporates thermal storage into the company's existing power tower solar thermal system. This produces a number of benefits, chief among them a lower levelized cost of energy (LCOE) due to increased utilization of the plant's steam turbine.  Cost reductions are always welcome, but how valuable are the other benefits storage provides, such as improved alignment between the plant's output and peak demand, and increased con

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