Tag Archives: Clean Tech Breakfast

May 10, 2012 SVForum Grid Level Energy Storage

On Thursday, May 10, 2012, in San Francisco at Nixon Peabody, SVForum presented a Clean Tech Breakfast “Market Opportunities for Grid Level Energy Storage.”  Khaled Shami of Nixon Peabody moderated panelists Hanns Anders of Claremont Creek Ventures, Lee Burrows of VantagePoint Venture Partners, Gordon Chirdon of NRG Energy and Daidipya Patwa of PG&E. They discussed shifting energy loads, integrating renewables, improving reliability and expanding scalability. Simple solutions that do not require exotic materials or complex technologies are more attractive to utilities. Don’t try to recreate the grid, focus on improving it incrementally.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Dec. 6, 2011 SVForum Solar Trade War China

On Tuesday, December 6, 2011 in San Francisco at Nixon Peabody, SVForum held a Clean Tech Breakfast on “Solar Energy: Competition from China and the Solyndra Aftermath.” Mavis L. Yee of Nixon Peabody moderated panelists Troy Dalbey of Upsolar, Mark Domine of Enfinity , Kevin Gibson of Solaria, Mark Perutz of DBL Investors and Eric Wesoff of Greentech Media.

China now controls two thirds of the $39 billion photovoltaic (PV) solar production global market. China’s flood of cheap subsidized solar materials is at the expense of US manufacturers like Solyndra, despite substantial federal, state and local support. People in the solar industry are now worried that a trade war may break out just as the industry becomes competitive with old energy. Experts think that the money can be made in adding value to the basic systems with installation, monitoring and service. In other words, don’t try to make money from making an iPhone but from the apps.

Greg Smestad Ph.D., Associate Editor of Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells was on hand with a number of links to detailed stories on the state of the solar industry. There was so much information it will have to be a separate posting.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Mar. 22, 2011 SDF Electric Cars

On March 22, 2011 in San Francisco at Nixon Peabody, SDForum held a Clean Tech Breakfast on “Electric Vehicles – What’s Under the Hood?” Robert Ebe of Nixon Peabody moderated panelists Matt Boyle of Sevcon, Rob Ferber of ElectronVault, Gerd Goette of Siemens, Mark Platshon of VantagePoint and Ryan Popple of Kleiner Perkins (KPCB).

Under the hood, electric vehicles can be simpler than internal combustion engines. Their basic components are motors,  controllers (inverters), gauges, steering, DC converters, batteries, chargers, and accelerators.

The principles and design of the electric motor were worked out over a hundred and fifty years ago. They are ninety percent efficient and well understood. Batteries, on the other hand, tend to lose their energy density over time. Their efficiencies continue to improve with better materials and software but only with high oil prices are they competitive. Plan for evolution rather than revolution. If you can design your vehicle to be agnostic about what kind of battery it uses, it can extend its lifetime flexibility.

As fuel prices rise in America, electric cars like the Tesla, Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf are becoming available. But the most popular electric vehicle in China is not a car but a scooter. People in developing countries do not have to worry as much about older, existing, competing, subsidized legacy infrastructure. The new large cities cannot support the old ways. People just start buying small electric vehicles and are gradually creating a transportation infrastructure around it. Regardless of what other resources a country may have, any country that can generate electricity can build and drive a fleet of electric vehicles. Opportunities for investment and jobs are not only in the building of batteries but recycling them. Technology developed in the West will be scaled for manufacturing in the East and will create a global infrastructure of mass marketed vehicles.

In the West, the question is whether they will be adopted first by consumers or as fleet vehicles. Some believe that government incentives will drive purchasing decisions. Investors should not depend on constantly changing government policies. Your business model should be based on real market costs and demand.

New technology creates new headaches. One concern is about safety for first responders to an accident. How do you extract a person from a vehicle with a damaged and possibly ungrounded power supply? Another caveat is compressed natural gas (CNG). If it becomes cheaper than oil, it may be adapted for large trucks. The details will have to be worked out.

Copyright 2011 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Nov. 16, 2010 SDF Green Data Centers

On Tuesday November 16, 2010 in San Francisco at Nixon Peabody, SDForum held a Clean Tech Breakfast on “Greening Your Data Center.” Mavis Yee of Nixon Peabody moderated panelists Rick Chateauvert of EMC, Mike Dauber of Battery Ventures, Andrew Feldman of SeaMicro and Mukesh Khattar of Oracle.

All that data floating in the cloud is really stored in brick and mortar data centers around the world. These server farms currently use huge amounts of electricity generating waste heat. We are reaching the physical and engineering limits of current technology to cool these buildings. Incremental improvements are not enough. Companies must rethink everything from HVAC to the power consumed by the smallest semiconductor.

Ultimately the millions of mobile devices demanding all this data may provide a solution. The semiconductors, flash memory and power management software used by smart phones could dramatically the increase the efficiency of future data centers. There would be a great opportunity for someone to develop a data center app for that.

Copyright 2010 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

July 20, 2010 SDF Energy Load Shifting

On Tuesday, July, 20, 2010 in San Francisco at Nixon Peabody, SDForum’s Clean Tech Breakfast presented “Energy Management: Load Shifting.” Travis Gibbs of Nixon Peabody moderated panelists Robert Horstmeyer of GrowthPoint Technology Partners, Matt Jones of Nth Power, Janey Kaster of Schneider Electric and Tom Stepien of Primus Power.

For over a hundred years the United States has been the largest consumer of energy. Not anymore. Yesterday in Paris the International Energy Agency reported that China is now the biggest energy consumer. This demand growth is seen in other developing countries. We can compete globally for more resources or we can make the most of what we have. Load shifting from peak to non-peak is one way to do that.

At the consumer level, companies like Comverge and Enernoc can monitor and give feedback to reduce usage. A business can take advantage of time zones by powering up server farms in the east at night while people are still working in the west or vice versa. Load shifting is more about changing behavior than building infrastructure. All this may give us the margins we need to transition to alternative energy.

Copyright 2010 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Mar. 18, 2008 SDF Clean Tech Breakfast

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On March 18, 2008 in San Francisco at Nixon Peabody, SDForum with Astia and Moss Adams presented the third annual Clean Tech Breakfast. The topic was “Solar Technology – what are the winning technologies? Where will the successes come from?”DJCline.com

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