Our third annual Green:Net event is coming up on April 21 (yep, next week!) in San Francisco, and we can’t wait for all the great speakers, workshops, announcements and discussions that will go on. The day is packed with so many activities that I decided to make a little cheat sheet with a run down of 10 things you can’t miss at the show. In no particular order (cause they’re all excellent):
1). Evolution of the Smart Grid Ecosystem: The smart grid isn’t just about smart meters, no matter what some of the press or the small group of protesters focus on. It’s also about connected cities, trouble-shooting grid problems (ie, keeping the lights on), plugging in electric vehicles and clean power generation, and developing the next-generation of smart grid applications. At Green:Net you’ll hear about how solar power and the smart grid intersect from NRG Energy CEO David Crane, and Silver Spring Networks EVP and CMO Eric Dresselhuys. Silver Spring Networks has also brought together a panel of industry and research thought leaders to look at how the smart grid will effect entire communities and potentially change consumer behavior.
If you want to sell a startup in greentech, the smart grid will be your best bet. We’re bringing together the key M&A players, including power gear companies like GE (s GE), ABB (s ABB), and Schneider Electric, and IT giants like Cisco, as well as innovative startups that could make solid purchases, including those in our Big Ideas Section.
2). Speaking of Big Ideas: We’ve collected 10 of the most innovative companies that are developing technologies around digital energy, and we’re having them show-off their innovations throughout the day at Green:Net. It’s a mix of growing players building technology around low power data centers, like Calxeda and SeaMicro, to a startup like Fenix International that’s created battery management software for energy storage devices for the developing world. Other Big Ideas companies include an older firm with a new idea, and Earth Networks is building the world’s largest greenhouse gas sensing network.
3). Lower Power Computing & Energy Efficient Data Centers: With the growth of always-on devices and ubiquitous networks, computing is consuming an ever-growing amount of energy. Companies that build and operate their own data centers from Google, to Yahoo to Facebook know this and have been investing significant resources into reducing both the energy and carbon footprints of the data centers that run their services. Google’s Green Energy Czar Bill Weihl and Yahoo’s Director, Climate and Energy Strategy Christina Page will be discussing their green data center plays with GigaOM founder Om Malik. Microsoft’s Chief Environmental Strategist Rob Bernard will also give a talk on Microsoft’s green data center designs.
4). The Web As a Platform For Sharing Things: Web 2.0 might have been about the rise of social networks, one-click applications, and location based services, but the next-generation of the web is also enabling an entire sharing economy. Using the web and mobile technology, startups like RelayRides and AirBnB (both will speak at Green:Net) are developing services that enable the more efficient use of stuff — from cars to housing to goods.
5). Mobile Networks and Connected Cars: Ubiquitous networks means another thing: our cars are the next device ripe for a wireless connection and for new types of applications. The next-generation of developers will be working with platforms like Ford’s Sync (made by Microsoft) and GM’s Onstar to create both mobile and in-vehicle applications. In particular, electric cars will have even more digital functionality to help drivers manage their battery charge and to find the nearest charging station. Our Big Ideas company Virtual Vehicle Company is working on how to tap into the mobile data off of cell phones to provide more intelligence for car companies.
6). Cleantech Investing 2.0: Using IT for greentech aims is one of the chief areas that will continue to get investment from cleantech investors: it’s more capital efficient, it’s less risky, and there’s quicker returns on investments, compared to investing in clean power. The leaders of Silverlake’s brand new greentech fund Silverlake Kraftwerk — Adam Grosser (former a Foundation Partner) and Cathy Zoi (formerly the DOE’s Under-Secretary for Energy) — will talk with me for the first time publicly about how Silverlake Kraftwerk will take a different approach to clean investing. Spring Venture’s founder Sunil Paul will also detail his ideas on investing in the “CleanWeb,” or using the web and mobile to more efficiently manage constrained resources.
7). Clean Power & The Internet: In addition to our discussion of energy efficient data centers, Greenpeace plans to unveil a report on how Internet players stack up when it comes to using clean power to run their data centers and networks. No Internet companies are really powering their services with any significant amount of renewable energy yet, but some companies like Google are leading via innovation more than others.
8). How the DOE Can Help: Cleantech investors will continue to fund these types of capital-efficient companies, but the Department of Energy will also play its part via the various programs that it’s enacted over the past few years. At Green:Net, the Chief of the DOE Loan Program, Jonathan Silver, will give us an update on the loan and loan guarantee programs, what types of awards are in the pipeline and how the program could change in the face of the budget crunch.
9). Energy Efficiency Through Design: The most energy efficient systems are designed from the ground up to be energy efficient. Autodesk CEO Carl Bass and GreenBiz founder Joel Makower will have a discussion about how design plays a key role in reducing energy consumption.
10). You & Me: Networking, media interviews, heated debates, provocative questions — we’ll have it all for our event, which is on one day, on one stage. It’s like a party, but you learn how to make money and save the planet at the same time.