managing the load in tandem with utilities and EV power management tools

Another crucial application for power tagging is the improved management of transformers in an aging transformer fleet — especially with EVs rapidly coming online. The majority of transformers are reaching the end of their 40-year useful life at the same time that EVs at a foreseeable 20 percent penetration would overload the transformer, according to Berens. Power tagging can control the loading of the transformer, managing the load in tandem with utilities and EV power management tools.

Vogler called out A123 Systems as his competitor in this market, but claimed that A123 had to use 40,000 cylindrical batteries with 80,000 connections versus Ionex’s 1,980 batteries in order to produce a 1-megawatt unit. Vogler also said that “Li-ion can now compete with lead acid.”

Vogler sees the battery as the glue in a hybrid energy systems — with the battery as the “energy router” that ties together wind, CAES, solar, natural gas, and the grid.  He envisioned the Ionex battery as the energy-storage-glue in a hybrid wind and solar power park.

Vogler spoke of the battery and its inverter obviating the need for the solar or wind component to have its own inverter system. Solar and wind would go right to the battery as DC with no inverter needed, according to the CTO.

The lines blur on companies like Comverge / Enernoc and others that deploy a solution on the customer’s side of the meter but get value from the energy market (that is managed on grids). Similarly with companies that use controls to save their customers energy, but can participate in Demand Response, thus doubling their value proposition.

Finally, Intel formally committed to bringing out chips built with transistors with three active sides. Factories will be upgraded this year and in 2012. The remarkable thing about this is that Intel unfurled the Tri-Gate transistor in 2002 and predicted back then that chips based around it would come out a few years after 2010.

Nearly a decade has passed and Intel has kept on track. Not many companies can do that. It goes a long way to explain why the Big I steamrolls over its competition in manufacturing. But the reality is that there are few that are effective at doing this and the regulatory structure to reward this kind of interaction “through” the meter is just developing.

Better Place is perhaps the most controversial company in green technology. Some say the battery swapping/charging network concept will lower the price of electric cars to realistic levels and provide a better driving and charging experience. Others say the numbers don’t add up.

Opinions are divided over CEO Shai Agassi too: visionary leader or just a chick magnet with a PowerPoint? Personally, I like the Better Place concept — cars on the Better Place network will age far slower than regular cars — but the finances represent a daunting challenge.

So, out of the $3 billion invested in 140 deals in 2011 so far, I count seven smart grid deals totaling more than $53 million. Which works out to less than two percent of total greentech VC dollars this year going into pure smart grid plays. Yikes.

Are VCs unsure of the exit path for smart grid firms? Were EnerNOC and Comverge the last smart grid firms to ever make it through the IPO window? It certainly seems that ABB and Siemens and GE have an M&A appetite for this type of firm. Is it too capital intensive? (See Silver Spring Networks.) Are the firms overvalued and is it too difficult to make the exit math work?

Thanks to all for attending The Networked Grid this week. We had a number of interesting sessions. Cree and Gridco outlined the future of solid state transformers, while Tendril CEO Adrian Tuck revealed that that company will launch its first commercial-scale home networking projects later this year.

In the hallways, much of the chatter swirled around Landis + Gyr. Will they hold an IPO? Get acquired by GE? Landis + Gyr execs kept totally mum, but others downplayed the idea of a GE takeover, so who knows. Distribution automation is clearly top of mind for many. Utilities are still struggling with consumer relations. As a result, we might see a migration of telco execs or retail execs to help them build expertise in ‘customer touch.’

Sentilla earlier this year moved toward monitoring and managing computers and applications. It’s a big shift. Data like this can also help companies determine whether they should outsource applications or keep them in-house. After 45 days with the new tool, one Sentilla customer found a way to shed 18 percent of its load.

Power Assure, meanwhile, started in that realm. It analyzes server loads to optimize use. Many large companies virtualize servers to maximize computing cycles, but sparingly. Too much virtualization can leave you vulnerable to traffic spikes. Power Assure next wants to move into controlling storage devices.

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