The DOE issued a release today about the $3.4 billion in grants issued as part of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA, aka the Stimulus Package). The release is here and there are links for downloading details on who will receive the funds as well as a map of where the funds will be invested.
It is a happy day for Smart Grid technology and service providers.
Tags: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
, stimulus bill
Posted by Jason Morris on October 27, 2009 at 9:55 PM
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News today, that the Department of Energy will dole out $3.4 billion in Smart Grid stimulus money tomorrow, in what was already shaping up to be a noisy public affairs and public relations week at Solar Power International. The first speculation that something was coming soon was posted by Matt Marshall of VentureBeat this morning.
With much of the US utility market and solar industry gathered in Anaheim for the SPI conference, this will no doubt give the cleantech industry as a whole a major boost. Venture Capitalists made cleantech the top funding market for Q3, but were having trouble raising new funds. With government dollars flowing, policy driving cleantech adoption and a slowly improving economy, it is only a matter of time before we start seeing the health of VC and private equity fund raises improve as LPs jump back on the cleantech bandwagon.
The news will also inject even more life into the GreenBeat 2009 event in November, where leaders in smart grid policy, technology and adoption will get together to discuss the market environment for 2010. Al Gore and others will be keynoting the event and Schwartz is a Silver Sponsor.
For updates at Solar Power, follow @jasonmorris and I'll try to report back on major happenings at the show.
Posted by Jason Morris on October 26, 2009 at 6:49 PM
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It's not every day one is lucky enough to see the President of the United States speak. Add in the topic (energy), timing (eve of Senate hearings on the Climate Bill) and location (MIT) and you have a seriously major event.
The crowd began lining up three hours before the scheduled start time to clear security and nab seats in the intimate (at least for a Presidential speech) Kresge Auditoium at MIT.
Once the crowd entered the warm venue (it was pretty chilly outside), the auditorium turned into a big schmoozefest (with no food or drinks, they were prohibited along with laptops from coming inside). As usual for Presidential events, things started a bit late. In this case, it was because President Obama was receiving a briefing from professors and students on new clean technolgies being developed at MIT, including wind.
President Obama entered to a rousing ovation. After a few jokes, he launched into a speech that was classic Obama--soaring language meant to inspire. One of my favorite passages:
"I'm excited being here and seeing these extraordinary young people...because it taps into something essential about America -- it's the legacy of daring men and women who put their talents and their efforts into the pursuit of discovery. And it's the legacy of a nation that supported those intrepid few willing to take risks on an idea that might fail -- but might also change the world."
But the President wasn't at MIT just to inspire. Obama used his speech as a call to action for America to innovate more rapidly and solve the energy problem, framing it as an economic imperative:
"Countries on every corner of this Earth now recognize that energy supplies are growing scarcer, energy demands are growing larger, and rising energy use imperils the planet we will leave to future generations. And that's why the world is now engaged in a peaceful competition to determine the technologies that will power the 21st century. From China to India, from Japan to Germany, nations everywhere are racing to develop new ways to producing and use energy. The nation that wins this competition will be the nation that leads the global economy. I am convinced of that. And I want America to be that nation."
And Obama was clearly conscious of the hurdles within the US political system that still need to be cleared, in some eyes taking the fight directly to the opposition:
"I think it's important to understand that the closer we get, the harder the opposition will fight and the more we'll hear from those whose interest or ideology run counter to the much needed action that we're engaged in. There are those who will suggest that moving toward clean energy will destroy our economy -- when it's the system we currently have that endangers our prosperity and prevents us from creating millions of new jobs. There are going to be those who cynically claim -- make cynical claims that contradict the overwhelming scientific evidence when it comes to climate change, claims whose only purpose is to defeat or delay the change that we know is necessary."
The President brought it home with more words of inspiration--"This is the nation that will lead the clean energy economy of tomorrow, so long as all of us remember what we have achieved in the past and we use that to inspire us to achieve even more in the future," and then he was done.
I was pretty sure he wouldn't work a rope line (he was already late to a Governor Deval Patrick fundraiser), but he dove in. Sensing a chance for a shake, I rushed up and extended my hand. Sure enough, I got my first Presidential shake.
A fantastic finish to a great day...but more importantly, the cleantech community received indisputable scientific evidence that President Obama is a huge supporter of innovation's role in solving the energy problem.
Tags: cleantech pr
, Climate bill
Posted by Mike Farber on October 24, 2009 at 7:13 AM
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As the Solar PR world shifts its gaze to Anaheim for next week's Solar Power International event, the news pipeline has already begun heating up. National Semiconductor today announced that it has acquired a solar monitoring software provider, which will put the company in direct competition with Fat Spaniel among others. SolarEdge, a Schwartz client, is a company that already combines power harvesting and monitoring in a single product, which likely pushed National Semiconductor to make an acquisition in the space.
Also this week, Schwartz client Skyline Solar announced the start of commercial manufacturing in a Cosma International metalforming facility in Troy, Michigan. This is another example of solar looking to fill the US manufacturing void left by struggling automakers, about which we will likely hear a lot more in the months to come.
Expect a lot of news around US manufacturing, public policy (i.e. grants and feed-in tariffs) and global firms entering the US market next week, as many peg North America as the solar focus for 2010. We'll have several Schwartz team members and close to ten clients at the event and will report back what we hear during the show.
Posted by Jason Morris on October 23, 2009 at 11:07 AM
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On the heels of the spectacular A123 IPO, President Barack Obama's "major" energy policy speech tomorrow at MIT keeps the cleantech spotlight on New England. It's a great validator for what I (and many others) believe about New England's role in the cleantech economy--we've got some some of world's biggest brains and it is through scientific innovation at places likes MIT that we'll solve the energy problem.
By simple virtue of its timing the speech is a big deal. As The New York Times reports, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (aka the Climate Bill) is finally ready for take-off:
"Obama's speech in Cambridge, Mass., comes the same day that U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson plans to release the agency's economic and environmental analysis of the climate bill (S. 1733 (pdf)) from Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). With the EPA analysis in hand, Boxer is set to begin a three-day series of hearings in her Environment and Public Works Committee on Tuesday, Oct. 27, with testimony from Kerry, Jackson, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff."
Two of tomorrow's most interested spectators represent one of the other big assets New England brings to the cleantech economy: the strength and leadership of our Congressional delegation. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is heading the energy push from the House and Sen. Kerry is the lead sponsor of the Senate legislation.
For the cleantech economy to truly take off, there needs to be cooperation between the private sector, government and academia. Tomorrow's event represents one of the highest-profile examples yet of how the three constituencies intertwine...and it's happening here in New England.
, Climate bill
Posted by Mike Farber on October 22, 2009 at 3:08 PM
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Out of the hundreds of standards that will ultimately be needed to run the nation’s emerging Smart Grid, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) announced it has determined about 80 of them in its new report. Smart grid standards have received a lot of PR in the past few months as many predict they will be the top road block to the market maturing and having its full impact.
Released during this year’s GridWeek conference in Washington, DC, the draft is open for comments for the next month. Jeff St. John at Greentech media did a solid overview of the release. Designed to guide utilities and vendors as they roll out services, products and software, these standards are being born out of a Smart Grid Conceptual Reference Model, which NIST is using as a guide to identify and keep track of all the various systems and requirements.
NIST highlights two groups that are being formed to help direct the future of the Smart Grid—where savvy and well networked Smart Grid businesses will be participating:
--Smart Grid Interoperability Panel: a public-private partnership established by NIST at the end of this year to offer more permanent organizational structure to support the ongoing evolution of the framework.
--Smart Grid Architecture Board: a subcommittee to the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel, which will lead the development and management of the Smart Grid Conceptual Model.
While many panelists and board members have likely been identified by NIST, there still should be opportunities for Smart Grid businesses to lobby themselves into the groups. Take the Cyber Security Coordination Task Group (CSCTG) for example, where security companies are helping build the requirements that address all cyber security elements of the Smart Grid.
Not selected by the NIST? Well, the releases of new standards and regulations will offer repeated PR opportunities for businesses to offer insight, commentary and thought leadership to the media—and help get their company and technology recognized.
Take this report, for example. What’s noticeably absent? What does NIST need to focus on in Phase 2? What are your thoughts?
, Smart Grid Architecture Board
, Smart Grid Interoperability Panel
Posted by Erin DelLlano on October 7, 2009 at 12:15 PM
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It's interesting to see large commercial and industrial companies infighting over how to approach lobbying around greenhouse gas (GHG) requirements. According to the FT, companies are actually leaving the US Chamber of Commerce over disagreements on how to approach lobbying around climate change legislation.
The thinking is that by lobbying to stall or water down a bill in Congress, businesses have exposed themselves to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule on GHG emissions which would be even more restrictive. It will be interesting to see if this leads to a wholesale change in lobbying tactics which could grease the skids for a climate bill in the coming weeks.
Posted by Jason Morris on October 2, 2009 at 2:09 PM
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In retrospect it seemed inevitable, but according to a new report by the Cleantech Group and Deloitte & Touche, cleantech has emerged as the number one sector in U.S. venture capital investment. This is a big deal...literally. The numbers are staggering--in Q3 2009 $1.59 billion was invested in 134 cleantech companies.
The report indicates that over the next few quarters cleantech is expected to stay on top of the investment heap (over IT and biotech). Reasons include investment risk mitagation in the form of government support through grants and loan guarantees and the "A123 Systems" halo effect--a monster IPO that gives VCs hope for lucrative cleantech exits.
, green financing
Posted by Mike Farber on October 1, 2009 at 4:28 PM
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