University Scholars Upbeat on COP15

The leaders of several university energy departments were solidly optimistic about the prospects of the international climate talks that begin in Copenhagen next week at an event at Google’s (s GOOG) San Francisco headquarters on Monday night. While Google grabbed our attention at the event by indicating the search engine giant’s move into clean energy project investment, three university energy department heads from UC Berkeley, MIT and Stanford explained to a group of journalists before a panel discussion that there is a lot of positive momentum and indicators from countries that very important progress will be made at COP15.

The important posturing from the U.S. and China — that they will set provisional emissions targets, and engage with the rest of the world on this issue — has already happened, explained Dan Kammen, Director of the Renewable Energy Lab at UC Berkeley. Dueling announcements from the U.S. and China’s leaders in recent weeks indicates that they’re starting to get on the right path, and this changes the equation completely at Copenhagen, said Kammen. No matter what gets officially signed, or gets prepped for signature at the next UN climate talks (taking place in Mexico City in 2010), the two biggest players now seem to be on board, said Kammen.
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How 3 ARPA-E Grants Could Reinvent Building Efficiency

384px-ToggleswitchThe Department of Energy this week announced the first round of grants under its Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program, which was created to back risky but potentially breakthrough technologies. Out of the 37 projects awarded grants, three are focused on improving building energy efficiency and could help spur what Secretary of Energy Steven Chu hopes will be “the next Industrial Revolution in clean energy technologies.”

Stanford University

Stanford University, located in Silicon Valley, received $4.9 million from the DOE to research better tools for encouraging energy-saving behavior in homes and small businesses. The two-year project, which will look at smart grid and wireless sensor tech combined with behavioral science, is also expected to receive $1.28 million in matching grants from the university and the California Energy Commission. Project Director Carry Armel said Google (s GOOG) and California utility Pacific Gas & Electric (s PCG) are likely collaborators as well, but she declined to offer more details on their potential roles. Read More about How 3 ARPA-E Grants Could Reinvent Building Efficiency

iTunes U: Learning Wherever You Are

iTunes U Splash

iTunes U (iTunes Link), part of the iTunes Store, is an amazing venue for top-notch educational content from the world’s greatest universities, institutions, museums and other public educational foundations. From language lessons to audiobooks to lectures and more, iTunes U is a great place for those who love to learn. With the release of iTunes 9, Apple (s aapl) has put an even bigger spotlight on this great content by featuring it prominently inside the application.

When iTunes U first launched, many of the top universities, such as Stanford, Cambridge and Carnegie Mellon, jumped onboard to provide engaging content. As the original institutions first began producing content for the free service, some implemented their content as podcasts that would download into the “Podcasts” section of iTunes whereas others would implement their content so it would download in the “Music” section. Furthermore, as more engaging content was added to the service, it became problematic to keep this content organized. Some universities would automatically create playlists for their content, and others would just create multiple podcasts. Read More about iTunes U: Learning Wherever You Are

Tesla DOE Loan Project #1: New Powertrain Facility at Stanford’s Old HP Site

Less than two months after the Department of Energy gave Tesla Motors the green light for $465 million in low-interest loans, the electric car startup has identified its first project for the funds: setting up a powertrain assembly facility and new headquarters at the Stanford Research Park in Palo Alto, Calif., a little more than 10 miles south of its current headquarters in San Carlos.
According to a release from Tesla this morning, the three-building complex, once occupied by Hewlett-Packard and Agilent Technologies, will be used to build electric powertrains for Tesla to use for its own cars, and also to sell to other automakers. tesla-deercreek2
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Steve Ballmer Sees the Light Through the Clouds

Steve BallmerAfter laying off thousands yesterday, Microsoft (s MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer visited Stanford today in high spirits, telling students that his company is hiring and that he can’t think of a better time to start a business. “These are tough economic times, but these are times that are rich in opportunity,” was his message. “I don’t think the contraction is dramatic enough that we’re not going to see strong ideas come through.”

Well I guess the task at hand was an inspirational speech, so you can’t blame Ballmer for trying to deliver, but this wasn’t the kind that resulted in wet eyes and standing ovations. Not that he isn’t charismatic, it was just a little hollow in light of the economy. Read More about Steve Ballmer Sees the Light Through the Clouds

Zipcar, Zimride Team Up for Shared Ziptrips

It sounds like a job for Captain Obvious: Why not team the top car-sharing service, Zipcar, with Zimride, a leader among the growing number of startups trying to reinvent carpooling on the web? Both appeal to green-minded urban drivers, and they have worked to build a strong base on college campuses (get ’em while they’re young, the strategy goes). Well today, the two companies launched a new partnership, integrating their tools into one service. They’re starting the rollout at Stanford University and plan to expand to other college and company networks.
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Stanford and Apple Offering Free iPhone Development Course Through iTunes

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If you ever wanted to be an iPhone developer, but weren’t sure where to start, this might be the place.

Stanford University is now offering an entire course (iTunes link) in iPhone development through Apple’s (s appl) iTunes store, absolutely free. The only cost will be the $99 iPhone Development Program fee (if you aren’t already a registered developer). Plus, you don’t even have to commute to Palo Alto, Calif., which will definitely save a buck or two. Read More about Stanford and Apple Offering Free iPhone Development Course Through iTunes

Stanford Launches $100M Energy Research Program

With the economy in the tank and layoffs happening across the cleantech sector, the next-generation of technology to fight climate change has been losing a lot of financing options. But here’s a bright spot: wealthy donors. Stanford University announced this afternoon that it is launching a $100 million program for a new initiative, the Precourt Institute for Energy, $40 million of which is designated for the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy.

The donation is one of the largest given for a specific program — Jay Precourt donated $50 million to the project, and Thomas Steyer and Kat Taylor donated $40 million. Other donors include Douglas Kimmelman, partner with Energy Capital Partners; Michael Ruffatto, president of North American Power Group; and the Schmidt Family Foundation. The funds will help bring in at least five new professors, 20 new fellowships and will also provide seed funding for new energy-related projects. This spring, Stanford will kick off that seed funding with a $2 million energy innovation business prize.

Update: Here’s some notes from a panel that included Google CEO Eric Schmidt, John Doerr, partner with Kleiner Perkins, Lynn Orr, the Director of the Precourt Institute for Energy, Sally Benson, director of Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP), Jim Sweeney, director of Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy Efficiency, and Jane Woodward, CEO of MAP.
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Tesla to Open Store in Silicon Valley Next Week

Electric car startup Tesla Motors will open its second store, this one in Silicon Valley, to the public on Tuesday, July 22, the company tells us this morning. Tesla CEO Ze’ev Drori wrote an announcement on the company’s web site this weekend that details the company’s production status and notes that the increased delivery of the Roadster “dovetails with the Grand Opening of our second Tesla store.” The store will be located near Stanford in Menlo Park, Calif., relatively close to its San Carlos, Calif., headquarters.

Just as it does at the company Los Angeles store, Tesla will sell products and offer services, but in addition, the Silicon Valley store will be the “place where all final assembly, tests and preparations are made with each car prior to customers’ delivery,” writes Drori. The company also plans to open stores in New York, Chicago, Miami and Seattle.

Drori says that there are now 27 Roadsters in assembly, with 12 having already arrived in California (they’re arriving in the state at and a rate of four per week). Several weeks ago Tesla said it had moved the manufacturing of its second car, “Model S,” to California.

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