To avoid environmental catastrophe within the next century, we, as a world, desperately need to cut carbon emissions.
If you’re an entrepreneur, this is the calling of a lifetime — there’s massive economic opportunity here. That’s why VentureBeat is hosting GreenBeat 2009, the seminal conference on the emergence of a “Smart Grid” — the movement toward a cleaner, more efficient electrical grid — one that champions transparency and puts consumers back in charge of how much power they use, and more importantly, how much they pay for it. We’ve got everyone coming, from former Vice President Al Gore (father of the Smart Grid), to John Doerr, a leading Silicon Valley investor with Kleiner Perkins (see his piece here), to Laura Ipsen, VP and GM of Cisco’s Smart Grid Business Unit, to executives from the leading utilities like PG&E.
We’re also looking for the biggest, boldest ideas entrepreneurs have to change the way we think about, build and use the existing grid. To spotlight these ideas, we’re holding a competition to award the best disruptors in the business. More details are below.
Today, the country’s energy market is at least $1 trillion. And if you look at the proposals being bandied about, tens of billions of dollars are on the move. In some areas, value is being destroyed (inefficiencies are being ironed out and old power plants are being phased out). But in other areas, value is being created (alternative energy projects built, smarter software installed, jobs created).
Heavy regulation and focus on efficiency means that large utilities won’t be able to keep generating more and more power, but they’ll resist change if they don’t see financial incentives. Federal and state governments are now anticipating this problem, and the legislative environment is ripe for breakthrough.
The Obama administration may be distracted by the healthcare debate today, but eventually, it push forward on the controversial Waxman-Markey Climate Bill, mandating a carbon trading system. Obama knows the U.S. needs to save face at the United Nations’ climate summit in Copenhagen in December. The House has already passed the bill, which would reduce gas emissions sharply. It now hinges on the Senate. All this should be coming to a head around the time of our conference on Nov. 19.
Despite what critics say, the cost of these legislative measures will be relatively little, and the benefits huge. California illustrates this best. It has led the nation in efficiency, establishing strong renewable energy requirements, and decoupling utility revenue from how much power their customers use (giving them reason to actually help people conserve). As a result, consumers and businesses alike have redirected their energy spending to other goods and services, creating more than a million jobs with a payroll of more than $45 billion, according to an estimate by Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive (pictured here), who wrote a good column on this over the weekend.
The opportunities are so big that even Google is reaching for a piece of the pie with PowerMeter, a consumer-facing home energy management system rolling out to thousands of households as early as this year. The California Air Resources Board, the agency responsible for implementing a law that will reduce California greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, predicts $33 billion in increased economic production as a result of the policy, Schmidt notes. In addition, the state’s gross product will increase by $7 billion, and personal income will grow by $16 billion.
Indeed, entrepreneurial opportunities already abound. Lately, we’re seeing metering companies buy up or partner with home energy monitor makers. Itron just landed a partnership with OpenPeak, Silver Spring just bought Greenbox, Elster partnered with Blue Line Innovations — all in the last two weeks. All of these metering companies are looking to install dashboards in homes and businesses telling consumers exactly how much energy they are using and how much it is costing them in real time. The Smart Grid has never gotten so much attention.
Given the activity in the U.S., imagine the opportunity in China and India, countries with huge populations and growing economies in urgent need of modernized energy infrastructure. News is that India, which has long rejected adopting curbs on emissions, is now considering a proposal to do just that.
I hope you’ll join us at GreenBeat 2009 to find out more about this potential. Sign up now and get an early bird discount of $255 off the regular price!
Meanwhile, here’s more on the GreenBeat 2009 Innovation Competition:
We’re seeking path-breaking companies to achieve the goals of the Smart Grid, which are defined by GreenBeat 2009 as the following:
1) Decarbonize the grid
2) Transmit data alongside power between utilities AND consumers
3) Drive increased efficiency and conservation of power
The top 10 business models and technologies promising the “smartest” impact on the power grid will win.
We are seeking submissions from companies with the following:
Innovative business models — These companies will have strategies that either leverage the capabilities and data made available by the Smart Grid or help fulfill one or more of the goals above. These companies will answer the questions: Who will profit from the Smart Grid? What is the next killer app everyone will use? Now that there’s so much data available, who will make the best use of it and how? The winning business models will have clear revenue models and have convincing arguments as to why their revenue models are sustainable in a rapidly changing space.
Innovative technologies — These companies or organizations (universities, research groups) will help decarbonize the grid, facilitate data transmission and monitoring of power use, or increase efficiency or conservation efforts. We’ll give preference to companies that have a pilot project already underway. We’ll also give preference to companies that plan to launch at GreenBeat 2009 or at least plan to reveal the latest release of their their existing products (GreenBeat is focused on the bleeding edge, so we’re less interested in showcasing companies with dated technology).
Eligible companies can operate in any of the following fields:
- Advanced metering
- Network architecture for power management
- Energy storage
- Fuel cells
- Grid scale hardware and infrastructure
- Real-time power monitoring
- Lighting and Appliances
- Demand management software
- Home area networking
- Data transmission/ “Broadband over Power line”
- Electric or other car systems that disrupt our reliance on carbon
If you have any questions regarding the competition, eligibility, or potentially demonstrating your new product at GreenBeat 2009, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.