France’s second-largest solar power producer, Solaire, has raised $111.4 million in financing to build three solar plants with 20 megawatts of capacity near the city of Grenoble. The country is one of the fastest-growing markets in Europe, with capacity expected to double this year, driven in part by feed-in tariffs.

Solar inverter maker Power One has acquired Fat Spaniel, which makes remote monitoring software that can be integrated into solar panels to optimize performance. The field for solar optimizers (such as inverters, DC-to-DC-solutions, microinverters and maximum power point tracking technology) has been heating up lately with announcements from Enphase (pictured), SolarEdge, eIQ and Azuray.

Solar panel optimizer and monitoring solutions company SolarEdge has raised $25 million in a third round of financing, led by LightSpeed Venture Partners.

Lux Research has predicted some winners and losers in the biofuels space in its latest report. Solazyme’s a winner, Bioalgene is a likely loser. And despite Amyris’s decent IPO showing, don’t expect that glow to spill over to fellow biofuels IPO hopefuls Gevo and PetroAlgae. The latter’s $200 million IPO is expected either to be withdrawn or to fail mightily.

Americans are interested in alternative fuel vehicles, they just don’t understand them, according to a new survey by Harris Interactive. Car companies know this well. Major automakers like Ford and Mercedez Benz are pushing consumer education, while new names like Tesla and Coda use concept stores to teach interested shoppers about electric vehicles.

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