Here are the top cleantech stories we’re following today on the GreenBeat:

NRG Energy has announced it will invest $300 million over the next three years in BrightSource’s planned 392-megawatt Ivanpah solar thermal project (model rendering pictured). Brightsource also received a $1.4 billion loan guarantee from the government for the project and power purchase agreements from SoCal Edison and PG&E. Construction has started, and all three phases of the project are expected to be fully operational by 2013.

The European Union is tackling so-called “vampire energy” in a multimillion-dollar project that will research more efficient transistors, CNET writes. Project Steeper aims to create electronics that operate 10 times longer on battery charge and don’t suck energy while plugged in but not in use (the energy that leaks from electronics that are not in use is called vampire energy).

Global photovoltaic panel production will grow 92 percent in 2010, reaching 15 gigawatts, according to a new GTM Research report. Subsidy cuts in markets like Germany — which have industry watchers worried — will slow growth in 2011, but the GTM Research forecasts panel production will exceed 25 gigawatts by 2013. And certain solar technologies will be able to lower manufacturing costs to $1 per watt by 2012.

Residential solar company SunRun has announced a new round of financing from U.S. Bancorp to expand its residential solar business. U.S. Bancorp today committed tax equity to develop 1,900 new home solar projects. This is SunRun’s fourth transaction with U.S. Bancorp. No dollar figure was disclosed. SunRun has previously raised $300 million in project financing from U.S. Bancorp and PG&E.

Oregon-based electric vehicle company Barefoot Motors will close its factory doors. The company made all-terrain electric vehicles for utility and agricultural uses, according to the Medford Examiner. On the company website, CEO Mary Gresens said a  “critical interruption” in their supply chain ultimately caused the factory’s closure.

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