The alternative option for energy storage makers: off-grid

When electric vehicles merely trickle into the market and utilities move at a snail’s pace when it comes to buying grid-tied batteries, where can an energy storage developer turn? To the somewhat generic, but decidely non-power-grid-connected “off grid market,” according to a new report.

Why A Company Would Ditch A DOE Loan Guarantee

What would lead a company to walk away from negotiations for a coveted federal loan guarantee, as solar company Suniva did recently? It has to do with the terms of the government deals, the time it takes to obtain one, and the recovery of private markets.

Biofuels, Bioplastics Startups Getting Sparse, Lux Says

Grab your biofuel startups fast, Lux Research says — the field of contenders with game-changing technologies for turning non-food feedstocks into useful hydrocarbons is getting sparser by the minute. The report sees Big Oil and consumer products conglomerates quickly winnowing the field of the best technologies.

GM Reports $1.2B Loss: What’s Next for the Volt?

General Motors trotted out preliminary financial results for the first time this morning since it sloughed off bad assets to the government and emerged from bankruptcy this summer: GM saw a net loss of $1.15 billion between July 10 and September 30 of this year, but ended the quarter with $42.6 billion in cash on hand (cash and marketable securities), according to the company’s reporting, which has not been audited and does not comply with GAAP standards.
Much of GM’s cash reserves have been earmarked for existing expenses, including payments to parts supplier Delphi, but as David Welch notes over on BusinessWeek, the automaker is now “closer to making money than it has been for years.” That milestone can’t come too soon for GM. The extended-range electric Chevy Volt, which GM gave a starring role in its financial viability plans, is now closing in on a late-2010 commercial launch that’s likely to be anything but a money-maker in the near term.
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Solar Market to Hit $100B By 2013, But Price Cuts Looming

The solar market is booming — plans like Google’s to wean the U.S. off fossil fuels over the next two decades involve massive investments in installing solar technology. According to a report from Lux Research the global solar market will reach $100 billion in revenues by 2013, with an almost five-fold increase in installations over the next five years. That $100 billion figure includes revenues from the modules as well as installation and system costs for five solar technologies: standard silicon photovoltaics (PV), concentrating photovoltaic systems, thin-film solar, organic PV and solar thermal.

But if you’re a solar supplier getting ready to kick back and wait for the cash to flow in, think again. Lux says that starting next year the market could start to get a lot more difficult for companies to make a profit. In 2009 the supply of solar modules is expected to overtake demand, and the resulting price drop will mean “an industry shakeout, with the weakest players being acquired or failing,” writes Ted Sullivan, senior analyst at Lux Research. As Lux has put it before, the solar bubble is about to burst and it could take many incumbent solar players down with it.
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Thin-Film Solar to Grab 28 Percent Solar Market by 2012

Thin-film solar technology, or thin layers of photovoltaics that can be printed onto flexible surfaces, will make up 28 percent of the solar market by 2012, says a report out this morning from Lux Research. Thin-film solar technology, which is being developed with materials like amorphous silicon, cadmium-telluride and copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS), is the next generation in solar technology and, through low cost materials and manufacturing processes, is poised to bring down the cost of solar production dramatically.

In dollar amounts, thin film is projected to bring in $19.7 billion in sales in that time frame. That’s significant sales for a technology that’s just starting to gain traction. Companies making more mature versions of thin-film solar, using amorphous silicon and cadmium telluride, are aggressively ramping up their lines. This includes companies such as investment darling First Solar, as well as Calyxo and Primestar. Lux says cadmium telluride manufacturing can be less than a third of the cost of traditional silicon solar panels.
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DocSyncer keeps Google Docs in sync with Office docs

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This Digital Inspiration tip on DocSyncer couldn’t come at a better time for me personally. I’ve been writing all of my non-jkOTR freelance work within both Word and Google Docs to see if the web-based service is good enough for my needs. Already I’ve had one instance of a document out of sync, i.e.: I made changes in Word and forgot to upload them to Google Docs.That’s where DocSyncer comes in: this beta web service is advertised to “synchronize your Microsoft Office documents with your Google account.” The screenshots show apparent support for Word, Excel and PowerPoint and I also see a “previous versions” menu item, which could definitely come in handy. DocSyncer is invite-only at this point and there’s little more info than that. I just signed up, so more to follow if an invite appears.