After watching the cleantech industry develop for several years, I feel like it’s now at a key transition point.
Finally, utilities across the country are upgrading their technologies and as such the electrical grid is turning into something analogous to the Internet.
Just as the Internet circa 1996 was suffering from congestion and inefficiency, so the nation’s power grid in 2010 is suffering from bottlenecks and blackouts. And while the Internet’s growth spurred the need for sophisticated routing and security technology from Cisco and a generation of other companies such as Juniper, Cerent and Siara, so the electrical grid needs an upgrade to exploit smart transformers. And there’s a lot of money that can be made from investors who back these “core” technologies. “This is what we’re paying attention to,” says Vinod Khosla, a venture capitalist who backed companies during the Internet era and made billions, but who is now backing grid companies.
Also, the urgency to combat climate change hasn’t diminished, despite the failure of federal legislation recently.
There’s only one place where the industry’s top minds will debate the problems and identify new billion-dollar opportunities, and that’s VentureBeat’s GreenBeat 2010 conference.
You still have time to put yourself in the mix at a special rate. Register by tomorrow evening, Saturday, October 23, and you’ll get a special earlybird discount of 30 percent. Our 2010 conference on green investing will be held Nov. 3-4 at Stanford University, and is cohosted by SSE Labs, a student-run organization.
The theme is “Charging the Supergrid.” We’ll be debating the big challenges of green investing today. Cleantech is moving into a new stage, where venture capital isn’t enough. Green businesses need to tap public markets to get the capital to make big changes in our infrastructure. We’re starting to see some IPOs in key sectors like electric vehicles and biofuels. But public-market investors are still skittish and the success stories are few and far between.
Here are some of the topics we’ll tackle:
- New electric vehicles are rolling out from Nissan, Coda, General Motors, and more. The utilities are saying the grid needs an upgrade to charge them up for the road. Both sides will mix it up on stage. It promises to be, literally, an electrifying debate.
- Consumers need to be motivated to go green. The rollout of smart meters has proven to be pretty dumb. What’s needed: New policies? Monetary incentives? Better marketing? Smarter technologies? And could the green sector learn something from social media and the gamification movement?
- A super-grid infrastructure push to match the information superhighway that blossomed in the 1990s. Green venture-capital pioneer Vinod Khosla, a longtime skeptic of the smart grid, will lay out what’s required to build networked intelligence into the super grid.
Here are some of the recently confirmed speakers:
- Scott Lang, President & CEO, Silver Spring Netwoks. He leads the smart grid company that everyone is expecting to file for iPO soon
- Kevin Surace, CEO, Serious Materials. He’ll bring focus on buildings, another part of the “edge” that we’re focusing on this year
- Scott Hublou from EcoFactor, one of the coolest young companies shaking up consumer energy management and demand response.
- Kevin Skillern, Managing Director of Venture Capital at GE Energy Financial Services, in charge of choosing which new smart grid technologies to fund at the smart grid giant GE.
- David Merkoski Executive Creative Director, Frog Design, who will explore how frog’s work with smart meters, solar panels, in-home energy readers, thermostats, eco-packaging and more has shaped groundbreaking shifts in consumer’s behavior.
See why GreenBeat 2010 is a can’t-miss event? Register now to get a special discount, and I’ll see you in November.