Whether you think the upcoming international climate talks in Copenhagen will deliver a solution for governments to fight climate change, or will ultimately turn out to be a global flop, one thing’s for sure: All eyes will be on the progressive city in Denmark in the second and third weeks of December, including those of the companies building the next generation of smart grid infrastructure. Today a group called the Smart Green Grid Initiative (SGGI), which includes heavyweights like General Electric, Whirlpool, Google, AEP and National Grid, says it will hold smart grid-focused events at the UN talks in Copenhagen and will act as an official delegation at the meeting.
While we’re not too optimistic that the U.S. will be able to pass climate change legislation before Copenhagen, we’re heartened to hear that technology companies and innovators will be actively working to have their voices heard at the event. As VantagePoint Venture Partners CEO and Managing Partner Alan Salzman put it this summer, the Silicon Valley contingent can help bring “mundane Silicon Valley activities front and center,” and represent the innovation arm within the private energy sector for an international policy audience that doesn’t necessarily think about the business community with the same degree of granularity.
U.S. smart grid companies could also learn something on the trip. Denmark currently generates the equivalent of about 20 percent of its electricity from wind (though the country exports a lot of that) and has built one of the world’s most intelligent grids to be able to manage such a large clean power load.
The country is a lot smaller than the U.S., so has been able to move more quickly and with better national coordination. Denmark is also investing heavily in electric vehicles — for example, the government is working in an alliance with IBM and others to build out smart charging infrastructure for plug-in vehicles, and state-controlled DONG Energy has a partnership with Better Place.
Startups in particular that are developing cutting edge technology could find like minds in the country. A technology that might be too next-gen for some slower-moving U.S. utilities, could find a home at a faster moving utility like DONG Energy. The Smart Grid Green Initiative includes a variety of startups, including Tendril, Ice Energy and eMeter.