Our Favorites: Top 15 Earth2Tech Stories from 2009


While the articles that drove the most clicks this year were a combo of lists and FAQs, we know our loyal readers came back on a daily basis to check out our solid reporting, our trend-spotting, our startup profiles and our scoops. We worked hard in 2009 to cover the entrepreneurs and innovators of green technology and we’ll work even harder in 2010. Happy New Year’s! Here’s our top 15 favorite posts of 2009:

Why the Smart Grid Won’t Have the Innovations of the Internet Any Time Soon:
I wrote this in June after I realized how controlled and closed the networks that the utilities would be building would be compared to the build out of the Internet.

How Google’s PowerMeter Will Affect the Smart Meter Industry: This was when Google’s (s GOOG) energy management tool PowerMeter first emerged, and this post covered our predictions for how the tool would affect the industry. I also like this scoop we did on Google’s first gadget partner: Google’s PowerMeter Bypasses the Smart Meter, Signs Up First Gadget Partner

Guide to Car 2.0: We put together this comprehensive snapshot of the landscape of the next generation of the connected car, or Car 2.0.

Earth2Tech’s Top 15 Smart Grid Influencers: Who are the big influencers in the emerging smart grid industry? Here’s our 15 top picks about the movers and shakers of tomorrow’s digital power grid.

How Risky Bets Like Startup EEStor Lure Political Backers: I think this post will prove to be very forward-thinking, politicians are way too eager to buddy up with greentech firms, regardless of the risks.

The Winners and Losers in the Smart Grid Stimulus Funds: The $4 billion or so in smart grid stimulus funds was the biggest thing to happen to the smart grid industry of the last decade. We tracked the applications and winners closely and here’s who we thought would emerge on top and who would be left behind.

10 Signs Your Next Car Won’t Be Electric: There were a lot of reader comments and reactions to this post, and I think it’s an interesting look at the realities of how electric vehicles will be sold.

The Story of Grid Net: How Ray Bell Is Betting WiMAX Can Fix the Grid: This story was a quintessential startup story, about an entrepreneur who had a strong vision of how the smart grid industry would look. It also won second place at the Stanford Innovation Journalism conference.

Lessons from the Cello Energy Biofuel Fraud Case: Do Your Homework: Josie delved into the important lessons that came out of the Cello case, where the company was found to have defrauded investors, well after the EPA had incorporated the company’s production estimates into its biofuel mandates.

How to Hammer Out Smart Grid Standards In 30 Days or Less, Or Your Money Back: Alongside doling out the smart grid stimulus funds, establishing standards was the other important milestone for the industry in 2009. Here’s an early story on just how hard that would be.

As Green Car Loan Funds Dwindle, What’s Plan B for Startups? As we move into 2010 and the DOE has already handed out a big chunk of the green car loan funds, what are the options left out there for all those green car startups that are struggling?

Tesla Lawsuit: The Incredible Importance of Being a Founder: Tesla’s founder lawsuit was one of the spots of tabloid drama out of the greentech industry this year. But it did offer a blueprint for what not to do when choosing a founding team. Something to think about for all those entrepreneurs out there.

The World’s Coolest Utility: Yello Strom’s Got Smart Meters That Tweet: This German utility has such a different mindset to most of the ones in the U.S., I thought they were just really innovative.

Chu: For Green Building Design, We Need to Go Open Source: Chu — the nerd’s rockstar — talks about open source of green building design. Gotta love it.

Lesson Learned from the PG&E Smart Meter Suit: It’s a Communication Problem: The lawsuits from the Bakersfield smart meter case probably aren’t a technical problem, but they sure were a communication issue.

Image courtesy of legalnonresident’s Flickr Creative Commons.


José Antonio Vanderhorst-Silverio, Ph.D.

“Why the Smart Grid Won’t Have the Innovations of the Internet Any Time Soon,” the first of the Top 15 Earth2Tech Stories from 2009, is also my favorite story. In the last part of the post, about “The Future,” Katie Fehrenbacher wrote that:

“… if the future of real-time energy data relies solely on consumers going to a retailer and buying and installing one of these home energy products, the market will not only be disjointed but will take a very long time to unfold.”

The first comment to that story “Carefully introducing competition needs to be introduced in the Utility space in order to stimulate innovation. Utilities have a monopoly and have no reason to innovate except by regulatory and political force. This method is certainly not a recipe for success,” by Scott Van Dam, went right to the point.

As can be seen in a comment posted under the Energy Pulse article Tangled Network: Transmission or Meter Investments http://bit.ly/65x8Lr by Kate Rowland, Editor-in-Chief, Intelligent Utility Topic Centers, Energy Central, “In the Electricity Without Price Ccontrols Architecture Framework, as utilities are restricted to develop a regulated delivery only Smart Grid, Second Generation Retailers develop the resources of the demand side, which coordinate customer investments while taking on the metering infrastructure.”

Even though there is varying degrees of competition introduced to the power industry, the Smart Grid as it is being developed is based on utilities keeping the monopoly on the metering infrastructure. That is the key barrier to Internet like innovations.

The response Katie needed to its reaction to Scott comment “I wonder with more IT companies moving into the power space, if this will help with that issue at all?” is that IT companies need to be stimulated on Internet like innovations as described in the EWPC article A Better Decade Require the End of the Prevailing Style of Management http://bit.ly/8xQmIz

The Future in the Next Decade will then reads as follows “… if the future of real-time energy data relies solely on consumers going to a competitive Second Generation Retailer and consumers that have the right to choose and installing one of these home energy systems, the market will be tightly integrated and will take a much shorter time to unfold.”

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