GE Invests In Makers Of Solar-Powered Air Conditioners, And Eleven Others

At a conference held by General Electric (GE) this morning in New York, chief executive Jeff Immelt revealed his company’s plans to invest $45 million in twelve digital energy, or smart-grid related companies— the first of several investments planned through the company’s Ecomagination business competition.

The newly funded entities include: ClimateWell, Consert, FMC-Tech, Ltd., The Fu Foundation School for Engineering And Applied Science at Columbia University, Joulex, OPOWER, Scientific Conservation, SecureRF Corp., Sentient Energy, Soladigm, SustainX and SynapSense Corp. Venture capital partners working with GE on this competition— Emerald Technology Ventures, Foundation Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Rockport Capital Partners— will invest $10 million into these first twelve winners, as well.

Five of the funded startups are involved in grid management, five in energy efficiency for data centers, commercial buildings or homes, another is working to connect a New York City utility to the smart grid, and one has desigend a solar-powered air conditioning system.

Beyond the $200 million of investments in clean tech businesses through its competition, GE also revealed today that it will give out five $100,000 cash grants to support companies with earlier-stage ideas to: CapStone, ElectricRoute, GridOn, IceCode and WinFlex. GE is also planning to spend $12 million on scholarships and university programs to develop clean tech talent domestically, over the next few years Immelt revealed.

Company Bios Below From GE Press Release

First Twelve Innovation Funding Recipients From GE Ecomagination Challenge

ClimateWell, Stockholm, Sweden (Efficient Appliances)

ClimateWell’s energy-efficient cooling and heating systems run on solar-powered hot water rather than electricity, maximizing energy efficiency. This technology translates into a significant reduction of power consumption and carbon emissions. While initially targeting operations like hospitals or commercial buildings, GE is working with ClimateWell on deploying this technology in additional markets already served through GE’s appliances business.

Consert, Raleigh, NC (Energy Management Systems and Software)

Consert’s demand side energy management solution empowers utilities, municipalities and co-ops to manage load curtailment, increase operations efficiency and act as a virtual power plant. Consert’s technology complements GE Digital Energy’s existing solutions to meet the unique needs of these market segments.

FMC-Tech, Ltd., Shannon, Ireland (Intelligent Sensor Technologies)

The power line monitoring system for medium voltage networks serves as a nervous system for the smart grid and has applications for GE’s Smart Grid Delivery Optimization. It integrates overhead line sensing, data storage, and wireless communication to a local controller to detect and locate faults in the smart grid and manage distribution communications, providing a platform for the present and future needs of the network.

The Fu Foundation School for Engineering and Applied Science, Columbia University, New York, NY (EV Charging Stations)

A new collaboration with GE, Columbia Engineering, FedEx Express, and Con Edison to enable the conversion from hydrocarbon to electric delivery vehicles in New York City. Columbia Engineering’s technology, developed by its Center for Computational Learning Systems, manages load and delivery and links electrical vehicle charging stations to the utility’s electric distribution management system in real-time. FedEx is providing and operating the all-electric vehicles that the collaborative team will study. In addition to providing funding, GE will supply expertise from its Digital Energy division and GE’s Global Research Center to support this program.

JouleX, Atlanta, GA (Energy Management Systems and Software)

JouleX provides a single, network-based, energy-management solution. The JouleX Energy Manager monitors, analyzes and automatically adjusts the energy usage of a network’s connected devices and systems. It has the potential to reduce energy consumption by 30-60 percent. It will enhance GE’s data center solutions to help customers reduce energy consumption in the data center. In addition, the technology will enhance Demand Response Management System capabilities in GE’s Digital Energy business.

OPOWER, Arlington, VA (Energy Management Systems and Software)

OPOWER integrates consumer demographics, energy consumption data and behavioral analytics to encourage households to make intelligent choices around power consumption in their homes. The average user reduces consumption by about 2.5 percent per month, helping to deliver savings. With GE’s global work in Smart Metering and Automatic Metering Infrastructures, OPOWER can help utilities secure buy-in from consumers and public utility commissions.

Scientific Conservation, San Francisco, CA (Energy Management Systems and Software)

This platform monitors and manages energy drift in commercial buildings through predictive maintenance of core energy systems: heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration, lighting, controls and renewable sources. Using its patent pending diagnostics, it typically improves efficiency covering the cost of installation in less than two years. The technology has applications for GE’s Intelligent Platforms building management software business and provides conservation opportunities for GE’s real estate portfolio and GE buildings.

SecureRF Corporation, Westport, CT (Utility Security)

SecureRF provides security solutions that address lower-powered embedded devices that will be used throughout the Smart Grid. Its Algebraic Eraser(TM) is a public-key cryptography method designed for resource-constrained devices like meters and sensors. GE’s Digital Energy business can draw on this security technology for the smart grid to help utility customers alleviate consumer privacy and data security concerns.

Sentient Energy, Burlingame, CA (Intelligent Sensor Technologies)

Sentient develops advanced grid monitoring solutions that consist of modular intelligent monitoring devices and software applications, enabling cost-effective distribution automation. It improves fault location, cause analysis and remediation, grid capacity management, and utility workforce utilization, presenting integration and partnership opportunities for GE Energy’s Digital Energy offerings.

Soladigm, Milpitas, CA (Building Efficiency)

This window technology electronically switches glass from clear to tinted, enabling control of heat and glare. It can reduce energy usage for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems by 25 percent and reduce the HVAC peak load by 30 percent, an important tool to level demand for the future smart grid infrastructure. With GE’s green homes and green hospitals ecomagination programs, its zero energy home program and other energy efficiency initiatives, there are multiple paths for commercial relationships with the technology.

SustainX, West Lebanon, NH (Energy Storage)

This technology provides isothermal, compressed-air energy storage technology to enable cost effective, grid-scale energy storage. SustainX’s approach has the potential to be less than half the cost of traditional compressed-air energy storage. The technology presents opportunities for collaboration with GE’s Global Research Center and commercial partnership opportunities with GE Energy to commercialize energy storage applications and to enable a higher percentage of renewable power generation in markets like Europe.

SynapSense Corporation, Folsom, CA (Data Center Services)

Using a robust wireless sensor network, SynapSense’s solutions measure and manage the environmental conditions and power usage throughout data centers, resulting in a 10 percent reduction in overall energy consumption for typical, enterprise-class data centers. The technology offers commercial relationship opportunities with GE’s Digital Energy business and its Intelligent Platforms business with its visualization and energy management offerings.

First Five Innovation Grant Recipients From GE Ecomagination Challenge

Capstone Metering applies remote communications technology to the century-old water meter. The company’s intelliH2O is self-powered and delivers real-time water system management, which helps conserve water and eliminates the need for manual meter-readings. Recognizing the substation’s unique location in the electric grid, ElectricRoute created a communications gateway point for transmission and distribution systems. Its low-latency, communications network infrastructure eliminates duplicate sensors and thousands of copper lines running inside the substation.

GridON created a fault-current-limiter to protect the electric grid from disruptions and power outages, increasing the grid’s reliability and enabling load growth and expansion. This technology was developed in collaboration with Bar-Ilan University and Ricor Ltd.

IceCode’s technology removes ice by using high-power pulses to apply heat from the inside out. Employing this technology for wind turbines substantially reduces the amount of energy used for de-icing and eliminates downtime for ice removal and inspection. First developed at Dartmouth.

WinFlex produces rotors for wind turbines from light, flexible and inexpensive cloth sheets made out of composite materials. This flexible rotor design reduces installation costs by fifty percent and shortens the return on investment to three-four years, without subsidies.