GigaOM’s top 10 cleantech posts of 2012

If page views are an accurate indicator, GigaOM’s cleantech fans loved exclusive photos and videos of new technologies in 2012. Yeah, that’s probably not such a surprise, but the most-trafficked cleantech stories in 2012 included: our first photos and videos of Tesla’s (s TSLA) Model X electric SUV, photos and an explainer of Apple’s ground-breaking solar farm in North Carolina, and photos and videos inside Facebook’s (s FB) energy-efficient Oregon data center A number of these highly trafficked stories managed to capture the interest not just of cleanteach regulars but more mainstream readers as well.

Meantime, our loyal readers also appreciated our profiles of new and under-the-radar startups, feature stories on clean energy and electric car trends, and explainers on new battery technologies.

Here are our 10 most-popular cleantech stories of 2012:

10). A Khosla-backed big data energy startup you should know about: Published in late October, this profile of energy data startup Bidgely, which has backing from Khosla Ventures, had a combo of buzz-worthy terms like “big data,” “startup” and “Khosla.” The Bidgelystartup does energy data appliance disaggregation, which means it can take data from your smart meter and accurately determine which of your appliances are energy hogs and which are energy misers.

9). Bill Gates-backed Liquid Metal Battery is now . . . Ambri: In this nice little exclusive, I wrote about how a battery company called Liquid Metal Battery had decided to change its name to Ambri, as the company moves closer to commercialization. The internet cared partly because Bill Gates has invested in the company, and also because the founder of Ambri, Donald Sadoway, went on Jon Stewart later in the year.

8). Video: We test drive Tesla’s Model S electric car! Now this was a fun one. For our Green Overdrive show this summer, we got to be one of the first journalists to do a test drive of Tesla’s Model S electric car. It was a smooth, vibration-free ride, and the car had excellent torque.

7). The story behind how Apple’s iCloud data center got built: Whenever I get a chance to travel or visit a site where new clean power technology is being installed I take it. For a data center road trip series, I drove around North Carolina and visited some of the Green Overdrive: We ride a Tesla Model S Beta! thumbnailtowns and talked with the economic-development folks that helped pave the way for Apple’s huge new solar farm there, which is being built next to its data center. My most popular story in the four-part series was “The story behind how Apple’s iCloud data center got built.”

6). Nest thermostat reviewed: A smart device for all seasons: GigaOM’s mobile guru Kevin Tofel wrote a detailed review of the Nest learning thermostat, after he used it for several weeks at his house. Tofel is used to getting attention for his stories: His reporting helped influence Apple’s decision to build the iPad mini, and he’s recently been doing some great stories about GM’s Chevy Volt, which he bought a month ago.

5). A rare look inside Facebook’s Oregon data center [photos video]: On a tour in mid-August we visited Facebook’s energy efficient data center in Oregon and learned about its outdoor chilling system and its new server architecture. We grabbed a series of mini Flip videos, as well as a full photo spread of the technology that Facebook is using there.

4). Hands-on video with Tesla’s electric Model X: Thanks to the mad-dash editing skills of GigaOM Creative Director Chris Albrecht, we shot and unveiled this video of Tesla’s Model X electric car over a few-hour period at Tesla’s event in February 2012. Elon Musk does the official unveil of the Model X Because the live feed of the Model X launch was delayed that night, we also got a nice audience boost as it was the only footage — video and photos — of the Model X at the time.

3). The first photos of Tesla’s electric SUV the Model X: Along with the video, we posted these first photos of Tesla’s Model X car. We were one of the first sites to post these, and we were one of just a few journalists at the preview event, so we got a lot of traction with them.

2). A battery breakthrough that could bring electric cars to the masses: A profile of promising battery startup Envia was near the top of the top 10 list, at #2. I got out early with the story, so that helped draw attention, but thanks to Reddit, the article also got some more mainstream attention.

1). Behold Apple’s massive solar farm from the sky [photos]: Sometimes the killer posts are the ones that just kind of fall into your lap. North Carolina’s TV Station WCNC-TV sent me some aerial photos they took of Apple’s solar farm in North Carolina, after I did an interview with them about the data center cluster in the state. I popped a snappy headline on top and the rest is page view history (with over 50,000 page views on the post alone).

Runners-up included: