Smart grid startups compete for highly variable venture funding

Venture capital industry interest and investment in smart grid startups has been up and down over the past five years, ranging from a peak of nearly $316 million in 2009 to around $100 million or less in 2011 (as of the end of September). There’s reason to be optimistic about the future growth of the sector, however. Powerful fundamental factors — the shift to cleaner, renewable energy sources and market deregulation among them — continue to support growth, as do smart grid proponents and technology providers.

Mocana gets funding Intel to protect smart devices from hackers

For all the talk about the “internet of things,” or web-connected sensors of all kinds, there’s a grim reality. Hackers are going to have a field day unless those things are protected from cyberattack. Mocana aims to protect all of those smart devices, from cars to smart meters, and that is why Intel Capital has just invested an undisclosed amount of money into the security startup.

icontrol meters

Home energy network provider iControl raises $50M

iControl, a provider of broadband home management software, said Monday it raised $50 million in its fourth round of funding. Investors in the latest round included Cisco Systems, Comcast Ventures, Intel Capital, Charles River Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Rogers Communications and Tyco International.

JouleX clips energy costs and raises $17M

JouleX, a company that creates software that monitors data center energy usage, announced today that it has raised $17 million from Intel Capital and a batch of other investors.

The quest for the Holy Grail of home energy management

Several big players are vying for a piece of the home energy management market – a growing market estimated to be worth over 3 billion by 2015, according to Parks Associates. This market will continue to shake out, with utilities, service providers and energy management vendors all trying to find the right scalable model. And the entrepreneurs and investors who choose the winning horse will be riding a huge wave as home energy management rolls out across the planet.

Toshiba buys smart meter maker Landis+Gyr for $2.3B

Toshiba, a Japanese mega-conglomerate that produces products ranging from power infrastructure tools to consumer electronics, announced today that it is purchasing electricity monitoring device manufacturer Landis+Gyr for $2.3 billion.

Solar power dominated cleantech investments in April

Investors were still pouring money into solar power ventures in April — with about 45 percent the $330 million invested in clean technology ventures pointed toward solar power startups.

GE to pick up power management pro Converteam for $3.2B

General Electric will acquire Converteam, a company that specializes in technology that converts electricity to mechanical energy and vice versa, for a whopping $3.2 billion to improve its power transmission and management network.

How the Internet of things could save the environment

By 2020, there will be around 50 billion devices connected to a wireless network — and a huge chunk of those devices will be able to drastically reduce carbon emissions and environmental impact by virtue of being connected to the Internet, said telecom giant Ericsson’s chief executive Hans Vestberg.

A sensor-driven life: IT companies wire up cities of the future

In a hospital somewhere, a patient falls out of bed. A loud alarm goes off, and nurses rush in. Then three blood pressure monitors and a crash cart go missing from the ER. Operations managers quickly locate them in other parts of the hospital via a GPS-like function loaded into the software on their computers.

What U.S. utilities can learn from China’s smart grid expansion

China’s state-owned State Grid Company of China signed a strategic cooperation agreement last month with General Electric to develop smart grid protocols in the country. The news was another step toward opening the world’s second-largest consumer of electricity to cutting edge smart grid technology. The State Grid Company had previously set an aggressive target of building a robust smart grid in China by 2020 and plans to invest $600 billion in developing its national smart grid over the next decade. [Disclosure: GE is an investor in Consert, the company I work for.]

Control4 nabs powerful Cisco partnership

Home energy systems maker Control4 announced an agreement with Cisco today to develop home energy and smart community projects worldwide.

How secure is the smart grid?

What if a burglar could browse data which reveals which houses in an area are empty, or a cyberattack could create an electricity blackout? What if you unwittingly paid for your neighbour’s electricity, or a hacker could hijack control of your washing machine?

Cisco jumps into electric cars via Ecotality partnership

Electric car charging company Ecotality has integrated its Blink car charger with Cisco’s home energy management systems. The Cisco-Ecotality parntership will allow electric car charging status and electricity rates gathered by the Blink charger (pictured, above) to be viewable on a Cisco home energy controller (pictured, below).

The road to green is paved with data

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Home energy guru Control4 teams with Silver Spring to make smart grid sexy

While energy efficiency companies are making good inroads with enterprise customers, getting consumers to engage with energy-saving devices has been an ongoing struggle within the smart grid industry. Part of the issue is the struggle to figure out designs and setups that actually engage consumers; the other is getting utilities to sign on.