Last week Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk announced that Tesla planned to embrace an open source philosophy for its patents and had removed the patent wall in its headquarters. A week later, this is what the wall where the patents were looks like. For more on what Musk did — and did NOT do — with the patent news check out Jeff Roberts’s analysis.
A Virginia startup is using federal grants to develop a device that will cut solar home installation cost while helping the local utility monitor and even control electricity generation from the roofs of its customers. Read more »
How to disrupt the power and automotive sectors: go big and vertical. Read more »
Automatic’s redesigned iOS app will now show your car’s fuel levels, though the feature will only work with about half of all cars connected with Automatic’s Link device. Read more »
SolarCity has jumped solidly into solar manufacturing, becoming an even more vertically integrated company. Read more »
The Nest Protect smoke detectors is back on the Google Play store with a lower price and the feature that led to a recall in April disabled. Read more »
Nifty new materials are being used to capture waste heat and turn it into electricity. That could make both your gadgets and your cars, but also high-powered industry more energy efficient. Read more »
Microsoft has been experimenting with its own custom chip effort in order to make its data centers more efficient, and these chips aren’t centered around ARM-based cores, but rather FPGAs from Altera. Read more »
Did the CEO of Tesla really “give away” the company’s patents. No, but he did do something more important. Read more »
Battery maker Boston-Power is closing on a round of $250 million from investors in China and elsewhere, reports the Wall Street Journal’s Venture Capital Dispatch blog. The company, founded in 2005 in Massachusetts, originally made lithium ion batteries for consumer electronics, but in 2011 launched its electric car lithium ion battery tech. Shortly after that, Boston-Power moved the bulk of its operations to China and raised a round led by China-based investor GSR Ventures. The WSJ report says Boston-Power has battery factory capacity for 300 megawatt-hours of batteries (with annual sales of $100 million) and next year plans to more than triple that factory capacity. The company is providing batteries for electric cars made by Beijing Electric Vehicle Company.
Tesla’s open source move is much more wide sweeping after all, though it remains to be seen how Tesla will implement this. Read more »
The Paper Battery Company isn’t making a battery out of paper; it’s doing something far more interesting. Read more »
Will solar ever be as easy as buying a TV? Well, no. But it can get a whole lot easier. Read more »
Honeywell has finally come up with it’s answer to the Nest thermostat with Lyric — a thermostat that doesn’t try to learn your family’s habits, but does adjust to your comings and goings. Read more »
While Tesla has been operating like Apple for years, it could now take a more Google-style turn to help boost the tiny electric car market. Read more »
Can we turn ordinary plants into sensors, in order to learn more about the environment? A bunch of European researchers with nearly $1.5 million in funding think it can be done. Read more »
Following Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s suggestion last month that California could be back in the running as a contender for Tesla’s massive battery factory, the state has now started to vie pretty hard for the deal. On Thursday, the Oakland Tribune reported that new legislation (bill SB 1309) was introduced that would enable the state government to use a variety of incentives and regulatory changes as a carrot for the battery factory. The bill is co-authored by state Senator Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, and state Senate President Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and is backed by Governor Jerry Brown.
Forget Watson and its Jeopardy matches. IBM’s Watt-Sun is the intelligent computing that can help fight climate change. Read more »
These early stage lab programs and prototypes could one day be the future of solar panels. Right now they’re hot areas of research. Read more »
Quick Charge 2.0 will fill your phone’s battery 75 percent faster than a regular power adapter, according to Qualcomm, and Japan’s NTT Docomo will be one of the first carriers to offer the technology. Read more »
The robot invasion has begun, only the form factor may not be what you expected. For example, a ceiling fan company has launched a connected product that learns when to start circulating. Read more »
With the EPA proposal, the cleantech sector cheers. Read more »
We sit down with Tom Siebel, the tireless entrepreneur and billionaire that’s finally kicking energy software C3 into high gear. Read more »
Solar roads sound cool. But what would be really cool is if current solar panels met their potential in the world some day. Read more »
Intel is rolling out a batch of new computing and radio modules designed to power the most advanced functions of connected cars as well as provide their links to the internet. Read more »
After about 11 years of scaling up and selling specialty products, algae oil company Solazyme has finally arrived. It just started a large factory in Brazil, and algae fuels at scale are around the corner. Read more »
GE has partnered with visual light communications startup ByteLight to turn its lighting products into location-broadcasting network using both Bluetooth and visible light. They’ll be showing off their work at Lightfair next week. Read more »
Electric cars and robotic cars are moving to the market hand-in-hand and that’s a good thing. Read more »
Neural networks are the latest way Google is slashing energy consumption from its data centers. Only a computer model could crunch all the data Google has collected on its data center energy consumption. Read more »
Forget gadgets and art projects on Kickstarter. The latest place to put your money is in solar projects for rural villages, and you even get the money back, over time. Read more »
Materials science is being transformed by algorithms, and computers are now selecting new material combinations to test in the lab. Read more »
Startup EnerVault has hit a major milestone: a demonstration site for its flow battery made of iron and salt water. Read more »
After halting sales of the Nest Protect last month over a safety issue, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued an official recall earlier today. Affected Nest customers can download an update over the internet which addresses the issue. Read more »
Will advertising creep onto the Nest thermostat now that it’s owned by Google? The Wall Street Journal reports that Google wrote a letter to the SEC saying one day it could serve ads and other types of content on “refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches, to name just a few possibilities.” The disclosure was an effort by Google to defend its position to not disclose its revenue generated specifically from mobile devices (because cell phones are just one part of the equation). I asked Nest for comment, and will write more when I hear more.
Updated with comment from Google: “We are in contact with the SEC to clarify the language in this 2013 filing, which does not reflect Google’s product roadmap. Nest, which we acquired after this filing was made, does not have an ads-based model and has never had any such plans.”
Factorli will open in early 2015 and be aimed at startups that want to manufacture up to 10,000 units of a product. It challenges the model that companies need to go big and move manufacturing to Asia. Read more »
Dell is working with partners to make packaging for its devices out of more sustainable materials like bamboo, wheat straw and even mushrooms, said Michael Dell at the Fortune Brainstorm Green conference on Tuesday. To prove his point, he and Fortune Managing Editor Andy Serwer ate small pieces of edible packaging made from mushrooms (see around minute 13) — of course, dipping them in soy sauce first. Michael Dell said he is enjoying the fact that the company is now private because it allows the company to be more bold, and think more long term. Looks like it!
Only 36 percent of the total cost of installing solar systems on home roofs comes from the cost of the hardware. The good news is there’s a lot we can do about that. Read more »
Sigfox’s dedicated wireless network for the internet of things will debut in the U.S. in the next few months. The low-power, low-bandwidth network is optimized for the expected explosion of smart sensors, appliances and wearables. Read more »
Energy software company Opower has built a business off of encouraging utility customers to curb their energy consumption through detailed energy bills. But will this method work as well when it’s around time-sensitive peak grid events (like a hot Summer afternoon)? This Summer Opower says it is expanding its behavioral demand response program, where Opower’s software nudges residential customers to lower their energy consumption during peak grid events, to 1 million homes. Unlike other competitors like Nest, Opower doesn’t use a device in the home like a thermostat. Baltimore Gas and Electric, Efficiency Vermont, Consumers Energy and Glendale Water & Power are all participating.
China has long been thought to be a prime source of hackery in the name of intellectual property theft, but the Snowden revelations mean many will see deep irony in the American accusations. Read more »