Department of Energy

DOE-backed Abound Solar to shut down

Here is another obit of a solar startup: Abound Solar, a thin film startup which secured a $400 million federal loan guarantee to expand production, is shutting down and filing for bankruptcy, the DOE said Thursday.

GridNavigator crunches data to forecast energy use

The ability to predict energy use and do something about it will become more important as businesses look for ways to reduce costs and use energy more efficiently. A startup called GridNavigator has launched a cloud-based service that performs energy consumption forecasts throughout the day.


The manufacturers’ race to a cost-effective solar source

The U.S. solar industry witnessed record-breaking growth in 2011, increasing by 21 percent in the third quarter of the year. Yet there is still not a solar panel capable of displacing electricity from fossil fuels. As is the case in any market, disruption calls for smart innovation, and several companies are rising to the task. Challenges await, including trade wars, funding shortages and other roadblocks to commercialization. The clear winner will be the solar-energy player that breaks new records in solar efficiency without the breaking the bank.

Photos: The future of energy tech at ARPA-E

The third annual ARPA-E conference — created to highlight research and startups that have received mostly small grants from the Department of Energy — kicked off just outside of Washington DC on Monday. Here’s my photos of some of the next-gen energy tech from the show:

Fisker suspends work on Project Nina, lays off workers

Electric vehicle maker Fisker Automotive announced on Monday that it has halted work on its second electric car called Project Nina at its factory in Delaware, has laid off 26 workers, and is attempting to renegotiate the terms of its loan with the U.S. government.

And the next Solyndra is . . . Beacon Power

Flywheel maker Beacon Power declared bankruptcy on Sunday after winning a $43 million loan guarantee from the DOE in the summer of 2009. This is the second company to declare bankruptcy that had a loan guarantee from the DOE program, following solar maker Solyndra’s bankruptcy.

Funding FAIL: The federal budget, politics and cleantech

Fighting for funding is a perennial, bloody sport for just about every federal agency. But the budget funding cycle is seriously out of whack with the development cycle for clean energy, according to Arun Majumdar, director of the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E).

In wake of Solyndra, DOE Loan Chief to step down

As the failure of now-defunct solar panel maker Solyndra continues to make headlines, the Department of Energy’s Loan Chief Jonathan Silver plans to step down. Silver will become a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the think tank Third Way.

What the clean power industry needs: more lobbying

Is the clean power industry not doing enough to win political support in the nation’s capital? While Solyndra has gotten flack for its significant lobbying efforts, the reality is that the industry should do more, not less.

The military: where the future of cleantech lies

The future of cleantech may depend more on the work of our military than climate change talks. The Pew Charitable Trusts released a report on Wednesday that showed the U.S. Defense Department’s cleantech investment ballooned 300 percent between 2006 and 2009 to reach $1.2 billion.

First Solar, SunPower move ahead on solar farms

Amidst intense scrutiny of the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program via the Solyndra scandal, September has still emerged as critical for a series of solar companies that hope to close federal loan guarantees and start construction on solar farms by the end of the month.

Calisolar ditches loan guarantee, lands in Mississippi

Solar silicon and cell maker Calisolar has ditched a $275 million federal loan guarantee to build a factory in Ohio, but the company still has a manufacturing plan. It says it has secured a $75.25 million package from Mississippi to locate its factory there.


Flash analysis: lessons from Solyndra’s fall

Solar technology startup Solyndra, which has raised more than $1.5 billion in private and government funds, has suspended manufacturing and laid off 1,100 full-time and temporary employees. We conducted a survey and asked GigaOM readers for their views on the fallout of Solyndra’s decision to file for bankruptcy and what the future holds for the company. This research examines the survey’s results. It also includes an analysis of Solyndra’s struggles over the past two years to move into mass production, and to do it amidst difficult and volatile economic conditions. Companies mentioned in this report include Evergreen Solar, First Solar and SpectraWatt. For a full list of companies, and to read the full report, sign up for a free trial.

How the smart grid empowers commercial building owners

There are hundreds of thousands of commercial buildings in the U.S. that are responsible for almost 20 percent of the nation’s annual energy consumption. Changes to our electric infrastructure could have a big impact on the cost to operate these facilities.

DOE Loan Chief: We Remain Committed to Nuclear

The DOE’s Loan Program will seek guidance from relevant nuclear agencies on lessons learned from the Japanese nuclear incident, but at this point remains committed to nuclear power, said Jonathan Silver, DOE Loan Chief at the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco on Wednesday.

Budget Cuts Loom Large at ARPA-E Summit

Charismatic speakers, from DOE Chief Steven Chu, to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger kicked off the first official morning of the ARPA-E Summit — the Department of Energy’s high-risk, early stage grant program. But amidst all of the inspiring words budget cuts loomed large.

What You Need to Know About Obama’s Budget & Energy

President Obama unveiled his proposed budget Monday that calls for boosting funding to the Department of Energy by nearly 12 percent. The spending plan would focus on research and deployment of technologies he’s championed repeatedly: renewable energy, electric cars, biofuel, energy efficiency and nuclear.

The ARPA-E Graduates: 6 Next-Gen Energy Startups

The DOE’s program to fund high-risk, early-stage, greentech projects is working, the DOE says this week. The indicator, says the DOE, is that private investors have invested a combined $100 million into at least 6 ARPA-E awardees. Here are the six ARPA-E graduates:

Tenneco Ditched Its DOE Loan Deal: Why?

Do not pass go, do not collect $24 million: That’s the card played by auto supplier Tenneco, which withdrew from a Department of Energy loan program in March 2010, less than six months after securing a coveted conditional loan commitment from the agency.

Feds Finalize Largest Clean Power Loan Guarantee

Following on the heels of the Obama administration’s plan to streamline the DOE’s loan guarantee program, the DOE has given final approval to its largest clean power loan guarantee to date: a $1.45 billion guarantee for a solar thermal project in Arizona built by Abengoa Solar.

The State of the DOE Green Car Loans in 2010

While Uncle Sam has tapped a select few companies as winners for its green car loan program, it has left a much longer list of loan applicants disappointed or stuck in limbo. Here’s the state of the ATVM awards at the end of 2010:

Why We Need Energy Literacy

We’re all going to need to become a lot more energy literate if we’re going to fight climate change. Now the DOE has started working on a collaborative Energy Literacy document that will help guide energy education in schools, as well as federal policy and funding.

Sharing Super Computing for Energy Innovation

Could 1.7 billion processor hours put a dent in the fight against climate change? That’s what the DOE is hoping, and this week unveiled a program to donate computing power from two super computers for dozens of projects working on energy innovation.

Obama to Streamline the Loan Guarantee Program

The Obama administration is working on streamlining the DOE’s loan guarantee program, a spokesperson for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) tells me this morning. The program will not be abandoned, but will be changed to run more smoothly, and take less time.

Data Mania: Better Tech Needed to Crunch Climate Change Data

Both Google and the government have taught us one important lesson: data rules. On Friday, U.S. officials said they will develop what they called the “first-ever, comprehensive and up-to-date database” of satellite images that will show land-use changes around the world.

Playing Translator Between Solar & Utilities

Intermittent solar power systems could cause lots of grid instability, unless utilities can communicate with them in some kind of common language using a set of common commands. Here’s a list of those top commands, and how they may emerge as industry standards.

Video: Private CEO Says Porn Piracy Is Promotion

Private Media Group CEO Berth Milton doesn’t think it’s worth fighting piracy. The porn veteran wants to instead give the content of his adult entertainment company away and use it as a free promotional tool to build a new business based on actual real-life sex.

Why Do You Need a Computer to Use an iPad?

One of the first disappointments a brand new iPad owner often faces is the fact they simply can’t use their magic new toy right out of the box. To setup an iOS device, you need a computer running a compatible version of iTunes. But why?

DOE Awards Up to $122M for Making Fuel from Sunlight

“Revolutionary.” That’s how the Department of Energy describes the methods for generating fuels directly from sunlight that the agency hopes will emerge from a new project in California. An energy research “hub” just been awarded $122 million to work on the tech.

How the DOE's Loan Guarantee Program Falls Short

The Department of Energy has treated some companies unfairly in their bids to win loan guarantees for innovative energy tech, and risked “excluding some potential applicants unnecessarily,” according to a new report from the the watchdog arm of Congress.

Plug-in Vehicle Maker Fisker Closes $529M DOE Loan

The federal government and Fisker Automotive have just closed a $528.7 million loan agreement meant to help the startup launch its luxury plug-in hybrid, the Fisker Karma, and set up manufacturing in Delaware for a line of lower-cost plug-in hybrids.

V-Vehicle on the Hunt for $100M to Build Plastic Car

V-Vehicle, the secretive auto startup backed by the venture capitalists at Kleiner Perkins, has pulled back the curtain for the first time on its future fundraising plans, stage of development and design elements of its inaugural model, which includes a plastic shell.

Coda's China Battery Venture Piles On $100M

Electric car startup Coda Automotive has just announced the first funding for its joint venture with Chinese battery giant Lishen. The duo has agreed to invest $100 million in the venture, which just snagged a $294 million line of credit.

CHEAT SHEET: Green Car Loan Winners & Losers

“Extremely surprised” and “shocked” are some of the words that secretive startup V-Vehicle and local officials in Louisiana have used this week in the wake of V-Vehicle’s failed bid for a federal loan to build a low-cost, high-MPG car. Is it really so shocking?

Daily Sprout

Duke Energy Jumps for Juwi’s 14MW Solar Project: “Power company Duke Energy said its commercial business unit, Duke Energy Generation Services (DEGS),…

Tesla IPO: A Test for VC Model in the Auto Biz

If and when Tesla goes public, it could become the biggest and possibly the first public offering for a U.S. car company since Ford Motor’s IPO more than 50 years ago. It will also offer a glimpse at the role IPOs will play in the green car market.

Daily Sprout

DOE Flunks Again: The latest inspector general’s report finds that the Department of Energy often fails to adjust heating and air conditioning…

Daily Sprout

DOE Dole Doesn’t Come Cheap: To score a $43 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy last week, energy storage company…

Thanks to Our GigaOM Sponsors!

We’d like to say thanks to this week’s GigaOM sponsors: PEER 1: Fully Scalable Hosting Solutions RackSpace: Experience fanatical support StrataScale: It’s…

Daily Sprout

Waiting…Still Waiting: The DOE has yet to disburse $25 billion under a four-year-old loan program for green cars. One complication: It can…

Daily Sprout

Home on the Carbon-Offsetting Range: Rangeland sequestration projects, which involve paying landowners to trap carbon dioxide underground by keeping grass unmowed, are…

Markey Opens 2nd Round of Net Neutrality Fight

Ding! The second round of the Net Neutrality battle officially started today, with Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey’s introduction of H.R. 5353, a…

Future Cloudy For FutureGen?

It seems FutureGen’s clean coal announcement last week was a bit premature. The Department of Energy (DoE), the main financier of the…

JLab iPhone Case

I have always been a fan of the Apple iPod case that came with my 3G iPod when I bought it over…

Nokia’s CTO Says, Keep It Simple

Business 2.0 : As phones become increasingly complex, the industry must make them easier to use, says Pertti Korhonen, chief technology officer…

Its the broadband stupid

The total US Internet access services market is tipping $35 billion, reports In-Stat/MDR and will grow by high single digits, indicating that…

Sharp TM-150 disappoints

Sharp Electronics has been quietly making a move into the US cellular handset market, and has made favorable impression on at least…

Tech-NO-rati problems

Kottke says Technorati is getting some deserved bad press. I think it more of a case of how to lose friends, customers…

Newswire For Feb 5

— RealVideo Preferred Over WMA & MPEG-4? — Good-bye Corporate Pop — Go Where the Girls Are — Streamcast Releases New Version…