Wave Power Funding: Ireland’s Wavebob Raises Interim Round

Wavebob_PICOcean power is managing to float forward during the recession, thanks in large part to government programs and to a lesser extent, private funding. The latest example is 10-year-old wave power company Wavebob, with CEO Andrew Parish telling us this week that it’s raised €3 million ($4.4 million) in a mix of equity funding and grants. Parish views the funds as an interim round that will give the Maynooth, Ireland-based company some breathing room as it works to raise a larger one (Business & Leadership reported that Wavebob was seeking €25 million back in June).

The smaller round is “a reflection of the current climate,” Parish said. “We started the year with the ambition to raise a lot of money and realized it was going to be difficult and expensive.” WaveBob plans to start raising another round of roughly $20 million in the first quarter of next year, by which time Parish predicts fundraising conditions will improve. For one thing, he expects stimulus funding for marine power to start flowing next year.
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Why Wave and Tidal Power Are Lost At Sea — It’s Darn Expensive

Despite many companies’ best efforts, wave and tidal power installations have been largely stuck in the pilot stage — bigger projects in particular have faced technical glitches and a lack of funding. Tom Konrad over on AltEnergyStocks points out research done last year showing ocean power’s most vulnerable point: It’s one of the most expensive clean energy generation options out there.

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SF Mayor Gavin Newsom: Power America With Ocean Energy

Today, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will hold a high-profile public hearing in San Francisco about the future of offshore oil drilling along America’s coastlines.
We have a choice. Invest in safe, renewable forms of ocean energy — including wind, wave, tidal and current power — that will help secure our future prosperity, create thousands of new jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Alternatively, we can continue to give tax breaks to oil companies that pollute our oceans and keep us locked in a carbon age.

The stakes are high. Oil companies are lining up to cash in on a Bush Administration proposal to offer petroleum development in 1.7 billion acres of formerly protected coastlines, including 136 million acres off the coast of California. This proposal represents a huge step backward. Our country has finally woken up to the need for a green energy future. Now we need to invest in the technology to make America the world leader in renewable energy. Read More about SF Mayor Gavin Newsom: Power America With Ocean Energy

Can Ocean Power Keep Its Head Above Water?

Most of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, so it seems like it would be a great idea to harness all that wave and tidal power and turn it into electricity. But so far, that’s pretty much what it is — an idea. Earlier this week, Pelamis Wave Power told the International Herald Tribune that it’s pulled its three wave power generators out of the water off the coast of Portugal due to technical and financial difficulties.
agucadoura_wave_farm
The move at Pelamis’ Agucadoura wave farm project reduces the already small number of wave and tidal power projects actually in the ocean. According to data from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy office, there are only 21 projects around the world that have devices operating in the ocean, grid-connected or not.
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Daily Sprout

Chu on OPEC: Energy Secretary Steven Chu said yesterday he was “pleased” that OPEC had decided against further cuts in oil production. He also urged continued focus on ending dependence on foreign oil and “investing in new clean energy sources that will put Americans to work and address the global climate crisis.” — Reuters

PV Down, But Not Out: Photovoltaic solar cell revenue in 2009 will decrease 1 percent from $16 billion in 2008, due to short-term drops in the average selling price, according to a new report from market research firm Gartner. But by 2013, it could reach $34 billion. — EETimes

Solar Cell Cost Cutter: Applied Materials released a new wire saw platform today that cuts thinner wafers, potentially slashing the cost of crystalline silicon photovoltaics manufacturing by up to 18 cents per watt by 2011. — Semiconductor International

Amsterdam’s Green Ambition: With help from IBM, Cisco, Philips and other companies, Amsterdam expects to invest more than $1 billion over the next three years in infrastructure for improved energy efficiency, smart grid technology and clean energy. — Spiegel Online

End of a Federal Feud?: A longstanding conflict between the Interior Department and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission over offshore wave and current energy projects could be put to rest as soon as this week, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said yesterday. — Greenwire via NYT

Will Cali’s Latest Wave Power Project Sink or Sail With Regulators?

Wave energy seems a natural fit for coastal, cleantech-loving San Francisco. But while the technology has a big fan in Mayor Gavin Newsom — who blogs today on CleanTechnica about the city’s latest scheme to tap ocean energy eight miles off the city’s west coast — the buck stops with higher-up regulators.

PG&E (s PCG) and Finavera Renewables (s FVR) know the regulatory snags all too well. The companies had a deal to develop what would have been the country’s first commercial wave power project last year. But state commissioners decided the technology was too new and the prices too high for a viable project — and denied approval for the utility’s energy procurement contract.

golden-gateThis hasn’t discouraged Newsom. Having completed a wave power study, San Francisco submitted a preliminary application to federal regulators today for a permit to develop a 10 MW-30 MW project with potential to generate up to 100 MW. For comparison, the PG&E-Finavera deal that the Energy Commission shot down was for just 2 MW. Read More about Will Cali’s Latest Wave Power Project Sink or Sail With Regulators?

Apple Declares No More Uninformed Reviews, App Store Ratings Jump

appstore

Once upon a time, anyone who wanted to could post a review of any app available in Apple’s (s aapl) App Store. You could just drop in on the top paid apps list, prepare a number of scathing single-star reviews based on the outrageous prices of each app, and possibly make a significant dent in their overall rating (especially if you were looking at some of the international stores, where there aren’t nearly as many ratings as there are in the U.S.).

It was misleading, it was petty, and it was stupid. Luckily, Apple did away with most of that nonsense when they limited the ability to review to people who’ve actually purchased an app. What remained, however, were all the spurious reviews made prior to the ban, with no way for users to distinguish between the two, and still affecting the app’s cumulative score. Read More about Apple Declares No More Uninformed Reviews, App Store Ratings Jump

Daily Sprout

Finavera Forfeits Wave Power Permits: Finavera Renewables plans to give up its FERC license for two Pacific Coast wave energy pilot projects so it can focus on developing wind power in British Columbia and Ireland. — Energy Business Review

Can You Charge Me Now? Good: Evan Thornley of Better Place Australia breaks down the plan for Down Under in a detailed interview, and says the country will have 99.8 percent network coverage within two decades. — CNET Australia

Electric Cars to Be Made in China, Sold at Wal-Mart: Mexico-based GS Motors plans to sell China-made electric vehicles at big box retailers like Costco and Wal-Mart in the U.S. within five years. — Cleantech Group

Aliens Off the Hook for Turbine Damage: Remember the mysteriously snapped wind turbine we covered last month — the one that locals thought might have had something to do with a UFO? Turns out it was worn out bolts. — NYT’s Green Inc.

Cities Get Smart: A growing movement in Europe envisions futuristic “smart cities” — self-sufficient energy systems where construction firms (would rival power suppliers. — Reuters

Lockheed, Ocean Power to Team Up on Wave Power

opt-powerbuoyLockheed Martin Corp. (s LMT) and Ocean Power Technologies (s OPTT) plan to develop a utility-scale wave power project off the coast of California or Oregon, the two said this morning.

Lockheed will construct the project and handle operations once it’s up and running, and New Jersey-based Ocean Power will provide the technology — so-called “PowerBuoy” (pictured) generators that convert wave energy into electricity, which can feed into a local power grid via underwater transmission lines. The 12-year-old company, one of the more established wave power developers in a growing field, claims that its 10-megawatt buoys can work in arrays of up to hundreds of megawatts.

Wave power technology, however, has yet to be tested on that scale. Even single-digit megawatt projects (“utility-scale” generally means generating capacity of at least 1 megawatt) remain in the early stages of development. As Finavera Renewables found out three months ago when the California Public Utilities Commission sunk a 2-megawatt project planned for the Pacific coast, it’s a long haul between an agreement like the Lockheed-Ocean Power one unveiled today and actual deployment.
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For Amazon, Netbooks Are a Smash Hit

netbookSanta was apparently good to Amazon.com (s amzn) this year; the e-tailer says its 14th holiday (shopping) season was its best ever, though it doesn’t offer any data to back up that cheery claim. Its biggest sellers (based on number of units ordered) included the Samsung 52-inch LCD TV, iPod Touch (s aapl), Acer Aspire One netbook and Nintendo Wii video game console — all in line with the trends we saw at the start of the holiday shopping season.

Amazon seems to have done well at the expense of its brick-and-mortal rivals. As Mary Delk, a director in the retail division of consulting firm Deloitte LLP told the Wall Street Journal, “Retailers went from ‘Ho-ho’ to ‘Uh-oh’ to ‘Oh-no.'” Sales for electronics and appliances fell a combined 26.7 percent vs. a 2.7 percent gain in 2007, according to the WSJ. E-commerce sales fell 2 percent versus 22.4 percent gain in sales in 2007.

I am particularly amazed by the growing popularity of netbooks. Kevin, Stacey and others on our team are quite enamored with these devices, which were originally designed as part of a program for underprivileged children. According to Fortune’s Apple 2.0 blog, of the 25 best-selling notebooks on Amazon, 17 are netbooks that cost less then $500. As they say — the race to the bottom has begun.