Dozens of startups building analytics that can collect and analyze energy data emerged or grew their businesses in 2012. It was a hot trend for a variety of reasons including the development of big data technologies as a massive and growing business, the notion that energy analytics are a more attractive capital-lite business than smart grid hardware, and the reality that utilities need to digitize their power grids to provide better service in the modern age.
Here’s a list of 13 startups that we covered last year that I would keep an eye on in 2013. A couple of these, like Opower and Nest, I also included on my list last year:
1). Stem: Formerly called Powergetics and founded in 2009, Stem‘s software tracks and analyzes energy use in buildings and helps companies predict and control their energy budgets. In addition, the company helps buildings owners tap into installed battery farms to use stored energy when grid electricity is expensive. The company got a new CEO and announced its first customer — InterContinental Hotels — in San Francisco in 2012.
2). Opower: I’ve covered these energy software leaders closely, so I won’t rehash them here. But in 2012 the company made strides like launching smart thermostat utility software trials with Honeywell, and it helped customers collectively save 2 terawatt hours of energy by the end of last year.
3). AutoGrid: A newbie launched by some progressive former utility execs at PG&E, AutoGrid is working on an Amazon-style recommendation engine for utilities’ energy data. Its Energy Data Platform (EDP) can take petabytes of grid data — both structured and unstructured — and crunches it to predict and analyze what is happening on the grid in real time. The company is backed by Foundation Capital, Voyager Capital and Stanford University.
4). Nest: While most people think of Nest as a smart thermostat maker company, some of the startup’s powerful innovations are the analytics that collect energy data and train the thermostat to learn your habits and shave off energy when it works for you. That data will also be valuable to utilities in some respect. Nest launched its redesigned thermostat in late 2012.
5). Viridity Energy: Viridity Energy has been around for awhile, and it uses energy data to create a new type of demand response service, or the process when utilities connect with building owners to turn down a building’s energy consumption. In 2012, Viridity got a large round from Japanese giant Mitsui. (photo of Viridity Energy SVP Western Regional Division Laura Manz)
6). EcoFactor: EcoFactor is like the service version of Nest (without the designed hardware) and is working with utilities and service providers like cable companies to manage connected thermostats in real time. In late 2012, EcoFactor raised another $8 million from Aster Capital, Claremont Creek Ventures and RockPort Capital Partners.
7). Bidgely: Launched in late 2012, Bidgely has created algorithms that can dig into real-time smart meter energy-consumption data, can reduce consumers’ home energy use by between 4 percent to 12 percent, and it can also deliver other beneficial home services to consumers. The company is backed by Khosla Ventures.
8). Space-Time Insight: Fremont, Calif.-based Space-Time Insight develops geospatial analytics around sectors like electricity, oil and gas and transportation. California’s Independent System Operator deployed the company’s software to power a control room featuring an 80-foot screen that displays map views and real-time information about energy infrastructure. The company raised a series B round of $14 million last year.
9). PlotWatt: Like Bidgely, PlottWatt has developed smart algorithms that can crunch energy data down to the appliance level to determine which of your household devices is sucking up more than its fair share of power. The company is four years old but raised a series A round of $3 million from Felicis Ventures and Acorn Ventures last summer.
10). WegoWise: WegoWise is looking to lower energy costs for apartment buildings, helping both landlords and tenants. The company uses lots of data to help property managers see where their units can stand to be improved. WegoWise bought data startup Melon Power late last year.
11). Retroficiency: Retroficiency has created data analytics that basically can give a building (or a group of buildings) an energy audit remotely, without auditors having to come to the site of the building. It uses a lot of publicly and privately available data to do that. The method is a much more low cost and quicker way to plan energy building reductions.
12). GridNavigator: GridNavigator’s software and cloud-based service perform energy consumption forecasts throughout the day to help building managers manage their power consumption. The company was founded in 2009 and is based in Redmond, Wash.
13). Honest Buildings: Honest Buildings doesn’t just collect energy data, but it has created a repository for building-related data enabling renter and home buyers, property managers, and organizations to learn about and compare the energy efficiencies of buildings. It also has info about green building materials and certifications like LEED.