Deregulation and the smart grid

As utility markets in the U.S. trudge toward deregulation, many on the smart grid and renewable energy startup scene feel that deregulation could further grease the wheels of their businesses.

Tado aims to be a smarter thermostat than Nest

The two thermostat systems won’t be clashing head-on anytime soon, as Nest only works in North America and Tado in Europe. But the newer system, from Germany, also offers an interestingly different approach to smart energy control.

The Honeywell-Nest lawsuit: Have the patent wars come to cleantech?

Cleantech has so far largely avoided the nasty patent wars that plague a space like mobile, but that changed last week when thermostat maker Honeywell filed suit against startup Nest. The appearance of a large company using its patent libraries to fight a new product’s coming to market could have chilling effects on the ability of startups to convince investors that investing in a new idea is worth the risk. It is tough enough right now to raise capital for early-stage cleantech startups. Build in extensive patent survey costs for startups and investor concern about late-stage litigation, and it gets even harder.

Survey: Weigh in on the Honeywell-Nest lawsuit

Then news that thermostat giant Honeywell has slapped startup Nest with a lawsuit for patent infringement throws an unexpected wrinkle in the landscape of the smart thermostat this year. We ask readers to weigh in on what the lawsuit means for the smart thermostat industry.

Today in Cleantech

Thursday brings a reminder to home energy management startups that they’d better be ready to acknowledge the giants in the field. Honeywell said Thursday that it has shipped more than 350,000 of its UtilityPRO thermostats, which can turn down air conditioners via utility communications or homeowner pre-sets. Some 33 utilities are using them today, and Honeywell expects they’ll be delivering 500 megawatts of peak energy use reduction by next year. At least some of these thermostats come with technology from Cooper Power Systems and subsidiary Cannon Technologies — and Cooper’s Yukon demand response platform is in place at more than 200 utilities. Add in Comverge’s residential demand response portfolio, and you’ve got a good list of the market leaders in residential demand response today. Given the cheapness of the pager-and-thermostat approach, this could remain the dominant platform for smarter home energy technologies to link to for years to come.

Why Comverge Is Rebranding Demand Response

Comverge has rebranded itself as a provider of “intelligent energy management” services. What does that mean for the demand response provider’s future against big competitor EnerNOC and upstarts in the smart grid space?

Today in Cleantech

Tendril Networks wants to be the TiVo of thermostats. Presumably, that means it plans to emulate the DVR innovator’s fun and functional appeal and not its struggles with profitability. If Tendril does indeed deliver money-saving energy management devices with TiVo’s set-and-forget simplicity, chances are good that profits will follow in short order.