Smart meter installations to decline in U.S. over next 2 years

Smart meters eventually will be ubiquitous globally over the next few decades, but, interestingly enough, installations of smart meters in the U.S. will actually sharply decline over the next two years, before they pick back up, according to Pike Research.

Google has now invested over $780M in clean energy

Google has emerged as one of the most aggressive clean power investors in 2011, and has now invested over $780 million into clean power projects and technologies. The latest funding is another $102 million into a wind farm being built in Southern California’s Mojave Desert.

How California’s Smart Grid Privacy Ruling Will Affect the Industry

The California Public Utility Commission is the first major regulator to issue such sweeping guidance on how data privacy should shape the smart grid. Here is how the ruling will affect the three big California utilities, as well as tech companies, startups and telcos.

Solyndra Scores So Cal Rooftop Solar Deal

In the midst of recent turmoil at solar panel maker Solyndra, including swapping out its CEO and shelving its IPO plans, the VC-backed startup has some good news: a deal to sell 18 rooftop solar systems, (16.2 MW), to utility Southern California Edison (SCE).

Bloom Energy, Fuel Cells, Not A Good Match For Utilities — Yet

While famed venture capitalist and Bloom Energy investor John Doerr told “60 Minutes” last month that utilities will one day want to buy Bloom’s fuel cells, it looks like, at least in California, those sales could be slow going. Todd Woody reports that an administrative judge with the California Public Utilities Commission has made a preliminary decision to reject requests from utilities Pacific Gas & Electric (s PCG) and Southern California Edison to buy $43 million in fuel cells from FuelCell Energy (s FCEL) and Bloom Energy for 6 MW of electricity.
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Some Utilities Considering Rejecting Smart Grid Stimulus Funds?

Updated: Smart meter maker Itron (s ITRI) reported better than expected fourth quarter and annual 2009 earnings late Wednesday. That wasn’t too shocking given Itron has been expected to turn around this year as it has started shipping significant volumes of smart meters to utilities. But what was surprising in the company’s conference call was this nugget that CEO Malcolm Unsworth let out about how some utilities might potentially be thinking about rejecting the smart grid stimulus funds because of certain tax restrictions. That was the first time I’ve heard that.

In response to a question from Stuart Bush, an analyst for RBC Capital Markets, about a debate among utilities over tax implications of the stimulus funds, Unsworth says:

Obviously, I can’t talk for what the utilities are discussing. We had some of those that actually have said that they – I think it was been public statements that they may turn it down because of certain restrictions or whatever. I really don’t know, but it’s going to be a case-by-case business, I’m assuming. So, we just work with our utility potential customers and work through as we go case-by-case.

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Take Our Mobile Tech Survey: Win $50 to Amazon

UPDATE: Thanks so much to the hundreds of people who took our survey! We’ve closed the survey and will be sending gift certificates to two lucky winners shortly. Stay tuned to the summary of the report that we’ll be sending out shortly!

Here at TheAppleBlog, we think our readers are some of the best leading indicators of what will happen in the tech world, be it for Apple products or technology in general. With this in mind, we wondered what would happen if we asked you your thoughts about tech products such as smartphones and web tablets.

So here it is, a short survey asking about just that. We also think you would love to see the results, so if you take the survey, we’ll send you an executive summary of the report we’ll produce for GigaOM Pro, and we’ll also be posting some results on The AppleBlog as well. And if that doesn’t compel you, if you take the survey you might win one of two $50 Amazon gift certificates we’ll be giving away to those who take the survey.

And just so you know, these results are only going to be used for this survey and analysis for a report (which you’ll get the summary results for in PDF), and nothing else.

So head on over, take the survey. It’ll only take a few minutes. You’ll also get some interesting analysis as well as maybe some free Amazon $.

MailBrowser: A Plugin to Manage Gmail Contacts and Attachments

If you’re a Gmail (s goog) user who’s coveted third-party Outlook (s msft) email productivity add-ons like Xobni or Gist, you might like to check out Webyog’s new MailBrowser. It’s a free plugin for Firefox and IE (with Chrome support on its way) that aims to extend the contact and attachment management capabilities of Gmail.

Getting started is straightforward: Download and install the plugin (versions available for both Windows and Mac) and give it your Gmail account credentials (which are only stored locally on your machine, as it’s not a web app). It uses IMAP to connect to your Gmail and Google Apps accounts; once connected, it trawls through your emails looking for contacts and attachments. As soon as it’s finished indexing your emails, you’re ready to go.

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Utilities Poised to Brighten U.S. Solar Market

It looks like utilities are poised to drive the U.S. solar market in coming years, based on a new report from Emerging Energy Research that predicts utilities will add 21.5 GW of photovoltaic capacity by 2020, up from only 77 MW of utility-driven PV projects in operation today. The report released Thursday confirms the trend we noted back in October, and the projections are huge considering that the United States made up only 360 MW of demand last year, according to Solarbuzz.

U.S. utilities already have announced more than 4.8 GW of large PV projects in the works, according to the Emerging Energy Research report. The firm forecasts that utilities will play a key role in shaping the changing landscape of solar power and estimates the U.S. PV market – led by utility activity – will grow from 2 GW in 2011 to a whopping 12 GW in 2015. That compares to a worldwide solar market of 5.8 GW in 2008, according to Photon Consulting’s Solar Annual 2009. Photon projects the global PV market will reach 8.6 GW this year and 44.9 GW in 2011, meaning that the U.S. would make up more than a quarter of the world market in 2011 if Emerging Energy Research’s forecasts are on target, up from about 6 percent last year. Read More about Utilities Poised to Brighten U.S. Solar Market