Green

On the GreenBeat: AlertMe raises $23 million, Tesla gearing up for Model S in 2012

Energy management firm AlertMe raised $23 million in a second round of funding ahead of planned expansion into the U.S. market. The company has picked up a strategic investor and commercial partner in British Gas, the U.K.’s largest utility, which invested about $9 million for a 15.96 percent stake in the company. The two companies have signed a commercial agreement worth over $32 million that will roll out AlertMe’s products to the utility’s customers – the products allow consumers to monitor and manage energy consumption over cell phones and the internet. Investors in this round include VantagePoint Venture, Index Ventures and SET Venture Partners.

SolFocus is attempting to bring bankability to the relatively nascent concentrated solar power field by offering customers a 25-year power performance warranty via insurer Munich Re. Green Tech Media notes this move takes a crack at the difficulty concentrated solar projects have getting bank loans if the panels are not supplied by well-established manufacturers like SunPower and First Solar. Concentrated solar projects are often utility-scale and capital-intensive.

Tesla’s Roadster model will end production in 2012, and the company will focus on the Model S sedan (pictured), which it expects to make at a rate of 20,000 cars a year starting at the end of 2012. Tesla’s Model S sedan’s battery is incorporated into the underbelly of the car, making it easier to switch out — but the company said it probably won’t collaborate with battery-switching station startup Better Place. (Unlike Better Place, Tesla doesn’t agree that battery forms should be standardized; rather, it chooses different batteries for different cars.) Tesla plans to grow its workforce from 700 to 2,000.

First Solar announced yesterday it has signed seven customers for a 380-megawatt increase in orders for 2011. The company is working with existing customers on solar projects mostly in Europe, and says its customers see “robust growth” in that market, according to a statement. First Solar has plans to increase capacity in Germany and France to meet increasing local demand and the development of a utility-scale market.

Production of biomaterials will grow faster than biofuels and increasing biofuel capacity is highly reliant on technology from innovative startups, according to a new report from Lux research. The biofuels sector has been slow to replace petroleum-based products, but the market is expected to grow at least 17.7 percent a year.

LG Chem has landed its first American utility customer, Southern California Edison, which will use LG’s battery packs for a residential energy storage pilot project. SoCal Edison will collect data over about one year to learn how stored solar can help in its renewable energy efforts.

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