GE, VC Partners Invest $55M in New Smart-Grid Tech

by | Nov 19, 2010

As part of the $200 million “GE ecomagination Challenge,” GE and its venture capital partners has awarded $55 million to several leading power grid technology companies. This is the first of several rounds of innovation funding planned by GE and its venture capital partners to drive the development and deployment of power grid technology through open collaboration.

GE recently announced five innovation award winners as part of the ecomagination “Powering the Grid” challenge, each earning $100,000 to jump-start the development of their ideas.

To date, GE has formed a dozen new partnerships with entrants to develop and commercialize technologies that will help build the next-generation power grid. These technologies include energy storage, utility security, energy management software and electric vehicle charging services. GE expects these markets to grow rapidly into a $20 billion opportunity by 2015.

GE is actively negotiating investments and other commercial agreements with the companies and academic partners listed below, including two co-investments with venture capital partners. Here’s a quick rundown on the investments from GE.

–ClimateWell, Stockholm, Sweden (Efficient Appliances): ClimateWell’s energy-efficient cooling and heating systems run on solar-powered hot water rather than electricity, maximizing energy efficiency. This technology translates into a significant reduction of power consumption and carbon emissions.

–Consert, Raleigh, NC (Energy Management Systems and Software): Consert’s demand side energy management solution enables utilities, municipalities and co-ops to manage load curtailment, increase operations efficiency and act as a virtual power plant.

–FMC-Tech, Ltd., Shannon, Ireland (Intelligent Sensor Technologies): The power line monitoring system for medium voltage networks serves as a nervous system for the smart grid and has applications for GE’s Smart Grid Delivery Optimization. It integrates overhead line sensing, data storage, and wireless communication to a local controller to detect and locate faults in the smart grid and manage distribution communications, providing a platform for the present and future needs of the network.

–The Fu Foundation School for Engineering and Applied Science, Columbia University, New York, NY (EV Charging Stations): A new collaboration with GE, Columbia Engineering, FedEx Express, and Con Edison to enable the conversion from hydrocarbon to electric delivery vehicles in New York City.

–JouleX, Atlanta, GA (Energy Management Systems and Software): The JouleX Energy Manager monitors, analyzes and automatically adjusts the energy use of a network’s connected devices and systems. It has the potential to reduce energy consumption by 30-60 percent. It will enhance GE’s data center solutions to help customers reduce energy consumption in the data center. In addition, the technology will enhance Demand Response Management System capabilities in GE’s Digital Energy business.

–OPOWER, Arlington, VA (Energy Management Systems and Software): OPOWER integrates consumer demographics, energy consumption data and behavioral analytics to encourage households to make intelligent choices around power consumption in their homes.

–Scientific Conservation, San Francisco, CA (Energy Management Systems and Software): This platform monitors and manages energy drift in commercial buildings through predictive maintenance of core energy systems: heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration, lighting, controls and renewable sources. Using its patent pending diagnostics, it typically improves efficiency covering the cost of installation in less than two years.

–SecureRF Corporation, Westport, CT (Utility Security): SecureRF provides security solutions that address lower-powered embedded devices that will be used throughout the Smart Grid. Its Algebraic Eraser is a public-key cryptography method designed for resource-constrained devices like meters and sensors.

–Sentient Energy, Burlingame, CA (Intelligent Sensor Technologies): Sentient develops advanced grid monitoring solutions that consist of modular intelligent monitoring devices and software applications, enabling cost-effective distribution automation. It improves fault location, cause analysis and remediation, grid capacity management, and utility workforce utilization, presenting integration and partnership opportunities for GE Energy’s Digital Energy offerings.

–Soladigm, Milpitas, CA (Building Efficiency): This window technology electronically switches glass from clear to tinted, enabling control of heat and glare. It can reduce energy use for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems by 25 percent and reduce the HVAC peak load by 30 percent.

–SustainX, West Lebanon, NH (Energy Storage): This technology provides isothermal, compressed-air energy storage technology to enable cost effective, grid-scale energy storage. SustainX’s approach has the potential to be less than half the cost of traditional compressed-air energy storage.

–SynapSense Corporation, Folsom, CA (Data Center Services): Using a robust wireless sensor network, SynapSense’s solutions measure and manage the environmental conditions and power usage throughout data centers, resulting in a 10 percent reduction in overall energy consumption for typical, enterprise-class data centers.

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