Moving smartmeter data to the cloud

E.ON, one of Europe’s biggest energy generators, has signed a deal with IBM to move its metering data and management capabilities to the cloud. E.ON owns almost 70 gigawatts of capacity and serves 26 million customers, largely in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

The race is on for big cloud providers to step in and offer utilities cloud based solutions to managing everything from basic meter data to predictive analytics. We’ve seen the early meter data management systems (MDMS) startups like Ecologic Analytics get acquired. But I wonder if the fully integrated IT companies like IBM will be able to offer the most comprehensive suite of solutions for utilities, making it hard for a startup, say, with a novel predictive analytics tool to find a niche.

Germany is interesting in its own right because while it’s the most forward looking and advanced renewable energy deployer, it has no smart metering mandates. In fact, early predictions say only a quarter of the country will have smart meters by 2022, far less than the U.S. or the rest of Europe. With so much renewable power on the grid, the country is going to have to go further into energy storage and will likely miss out on some potential advantages of being able to crunch smart meter data to provide novel forms of energy storage like pre-heating buildings based on predictive analytics that combine weather data with historical smart meter data for a given location.

On the flip side, for critics of smart meters, the absence of a mandate will force metering companies to really prove the value of smart meters to utilities in order to make the sale.

A German solar battery startup comes to America

A German company has engineered a lithium-ion battery system with wireless communication to enable homeowners to manage their solar electricity generation and use and control appliances.

Holy Desertec: $555B Solar Saharan Project Finds a Dozen Backers

solarthermalgeneric2Ever since the news came out about Desertec, a $555 billion project to build solar thermal plants in Northern Africa’s Sahara desert to funnel solar power to Europe, we’ve been scratching our heads about what to make of it. The sheer size (supposedly large enough to supply up to 15 percent of Europe’s electricity needs), cost and timeline (over 40 years) is so utterly massive and ambitious, the project will no doubt look very different when — and if — it ever makes it to light. But despite the “fantasy” nature of the plan, a dozen serious and respected companies have signed a memorandum of understanding today to investigate how to build the project.

Participants include German engineering company Siemens (s SI), German insurer Munich Re, Deutsche Bank (s DB), German utilities RWE and EON, Spain’s power company Abengoa, Zurich’s electricity grid builder ABB, Algerian firm Cevital, European bank HSH Nordbank, engineering company M+W Zander, and solar firms Schott Solar and Solar Millennium.

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Report: Climate Change Is Big Business

For cleantech companies, climate change has been a big deal for some time. But it’s officially become a major mainstream business issue, according to a new PricewaterhouseCoopers report, “Capitalizing On a Climate of Change,” that says energy and climate policies are influencing the way all companies report their finances, raise capital, and value merger and acquisition deals.

In other words, climate change is evolving from a scientific and public policy issue to a business concern. “Until recently, the impact of climate change on the deal market was barely on the radar of most businesses,” PricewaterhouseCoopers said in the report released Tuesday. “However, national policy action on greenhouse gas emissions is requiring companies in virtually every industry to think about the impacts on energy and climate policies on their business.”

That’s good news for those developing and selling products to help businesses go green and comply with ever-changing energy and climate regulations. And PricewaterhouseCoopers expects climate change to become increasingly important to investors and to companies’ valuations.
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Massive Offshore UK Wind Farm Gets Green Light From Investors

Is that the wind you’re hearing? No, it’s a collective sigh of relief from UK wind advocates. Plans for the world’s largest offshore wind farm have been given the green light from investors — Danish utility DONG Energy, German energy company E.ON and Abu Dhabi’s clean energy initiative Masdar — ending uncertainty as to whether or not they would move forward with the 1-gigawatt London Array in the midst of the economic downturn.

The future of the project, slated for the Thames Estuary off the coast of London, fell into question after Shell pulled out of it last year. Masdar stepped in to help fill the void, only to raise concern again in January when it said it was revisiting the economics of the project.

Falling UK power prices, the weakening British pound and rising credit costs have threatened those economics, according to Reuters. But investors decided to go ahead with their plans after the British government said it would raise support for offshore wind farms in its 2009 budget.
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Quick Tip: Prolong Your MacBook Battery Life

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Having a laptop battery that drains quickly is one of the most annoying things I can think of. I bought a laptop over a desktop so I could use my computer anywhere and expect the battery to last enough time to get a decent amount of work done. Whenever I find something that can increase my battery life, I get excited. I recently stumbled across a firmware patch for MacBooks that does just that.

The patch was released in March 2009, but I did not find it until just now. According to Apple (s aapl): “This update improves the ability of MacBook batteries to maintain a charge when the system is shut down and not used for an extended period of time. For more information about this update, please visit this web site: About Battery Update 1.4.” Read More about Quick Tip: Prolong Your MacBook Battery Life