There are not many “sure things” in the transition away from fossil fuels, but here’s one: the fastest payback will come from saving energy, not from new ways to produce it.
Another perspective: If renewable energy is more expensive than fossil fueled energy during the transition, technologies that reduce energy consumption will keep overall costs level.
Here are four examples of private-stage companies whose founders -- and their venture capital supporters -- get it. These companies have products that save energy (energy = money) for companies or individuals that use PCs, drive vehicles with internal combustion engines, and work or live in buildings that use electric lighting and have windows. I’d say that includes pretty much everyone.
Verdiem Corporation, based in Seattle, has software that reduces power consumption of PCs. The company has more than 400 companies as customers for its network product, named Surveyor, including the California government which this month deployed Surveyor on 70,000 state PCs with the goal of reducing PC power consumption by up to 60 percent. Verdiem also has a version for individuals, named Edison and downloadable at no charge.
(Venture Capital support: Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers.)
Transonic Combustion, Inc., headquartered in Camarillo, CA, is commercializing a fuel-injection technology that enables a lean combustion process. The result is reduced fuel consumption at a given power output.
A Transonic conventional test car the size and weight of a Toyota Prius achieved 64 miles per gallon at highway speeds, compared with the 48 mpg highway rating on the Prius. Transonic is working with three major automakers and expects the first equipped vehicles to hit the market in 2014.
Adura Technologies, Inc., based in San Francisco, develops wireless lighting control and energy management systems that make dumb lighting systems smarter.
The systems allow people to adjust commercial building lights to target just one desk or just one room instead of standard on-off functionality. The result is an improvement of 30 percent to 70 percent in electricity used for lighting. In doing so, Adura can save offices money and improve the environment for workers.
Sage Electrochromics, Inc., based in Faribault, MN, produces electronically tintable glass for building windows and skylights that can be switched from clear to darkly tinted (and from darkly tinted to clear) at the click of a button, or programmed to respond to changing sunlight and heat conditions.
Sage claims the potential to reduce building heating and air conditioning requirements by up to 25 percent, reduce cooling loads by up to 20 percent, lower peak power demand by as much as 26 percent, and reduce lighting costs by up to 60 percent.
Image credit: Sage Electrochromatics
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