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GE, VC Firms Launch $200 Million Contest for Smart Grid Innovation

General Electric and four venture capital funds launched a $200 million contest for innovations in smart grid technology, pledging to use the money to fund development of the winning entries.

Called “Ecomagination Challenge,” the contest invites businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators and students to submit projects with will help renewable energies penetrate the electricity grid, make the grid itself more efficient, or help make energy use in homes more efficient.

“We want to jump-start new ideas and deploy them on a scale that will modernize the electrical grid around the world,” GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt said in announcing the contest.

The venture capital partners are Emerald Technology Ventures, Foundation Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byer and Rockport Capital.

As examples of areas for innovation, GE cited developments to protect alternative forms of energy during transmission to the grid, to compensate for voltage fluctuations and manage output intermittency.

For the grid itself, GE is seeking innovations to stop waste, lower delivery loss and anticipate and monitor demand to free grid capacity.

On the home front, project areas include smart meters and appliances that are able to “talk” to the power utility; home area networks; renewable integration tools; demand response systems; home energy use monitoring; time-of-use pricing; plug-in hybrid electric vehicle integration; and neighborhood micro grids.

Submissions are due by Sept. 30 and five winners selected by an “evaluation committee” will receive a $100,000 innovation award. Select projects will have an opportunity to form a commercial relationship with GE. Funds will be available from the $200 million capital pledge and the projects will be thoroughly evaluated by GE technical and commercial teams.

There will also be partnership opportunities with GE to scale a global business and to accelerate product development using GE’s global research centers.

“The smart grid is a new platform and a new market that is just beginning to be explored,” said Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired and an adviser to the contest. “Great ideas on how to do this can come from anywhere, so this competition is designed to tap the widest possible range of innovators.”

By. Darrell Delamaide for OilPrice.com




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Leave a comment
  • Anonymous on July 16 2010 said:
    Wouldn't just privatizing the grid encourage a lot of innovation to improve it?Oh wait, GE is a big corporation and wants ideas for how governement will give it money to improve the grid. Never mind. :-*

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