Folsom Labs receives $1 million to expand Helioscope PV design software

helioscopeFolsom Labs, the San Francisco-based developer of HelioScope, has raised a $1MM round of funding from leading industry executives. The capital will be used to expand HelioScope to become a full end-to-end solar software solution, from initial customer lead to final close.

“HelioScope is already a phenomenal PV design tool, and we have the opportunity to extend it further, from refining residential functionality to generating permitting documents – and all steps in between. Even though we are profitable and growing rapidly, our customers are ready for that complete solution,” said Paul Gibbs, CEO of Folsom Labs. “This group of highly strategic investors will really help accelerate that vision.”

The round was led by Sheldon Kimber, Principal at Kokosing Capital, and formerly the COO of Recurrent Energy. It includes a number of solar industry veterans, including Tim Ball (founder of REC Solar and board member of SunRun), and Fred Kittler of Firelake Capital.

“The solar industry doesn’t need a new semiconductor technology – it needs tools like HelioScope that help installers design, deploy and finance projects more efficiently. Few understand this as well as the Folsom Labs team,” said Kimber. “Folsom Labs started by attacking the most valuable problem – system design and energy calculations – and are now uniquely positioned to become a true end-to-end solution for solar developers.”

“By raising when we didn’t need the money, we were able to be very selective about the investors we wanted to work with – and ended up with a group of investors that include the most experienced executives in the solar industry,” said Paul Grana, co-founder of Folsom Labs and Head of Sales & Marketing.  “Our investors make sure we are tuned in with where the industry is going on a 5- to 15-year horizon, and help us manage our growth opportunities effectively.”

HelioScope has gained widespread adoption across residential and commercial solar developers and EPCs. Customers include REC Solar, SunEdison, NRG, Rosendin Electric, GE Power & Water, and Borrego Solar – plus hundreds of small and medium-sized developers and installers.

“HelioScope has become essential to the way we run our business,” said Jay Miller, Director of Engineering at groSolar. “The software has transformed our pre-sales process, helping us cut our customer turnaround time in half. It then enables me to do powerful value-engineering – and then integrates seamlessly with the rest of our processes.”

Chris Anderson, CTO of Borrego Solar summarized the value of an expanded offering from Folsom Labs: “We’ve already adopted HelioScope across the prospecting stage of our business, dramatically reducing our turnaround time,” said Chris, “with this expanded offering, we will be able to adopt HelioScope throughout our end-to-end process, enabling us to leverage the labor savings even further.

“The Folsom Labs team has a proven track record of being responsive to customers and delivering improvements that really make a difference,” Anderson added. “We couldn’t be happier to be a HelioScope customer, and can’t wait to see what is in store next.”


Google The Cleantech Utility


Google has acquired Nest Labs, the maker of a smart learning thermostat. The Nest thermostat connects your air conditioning and heating device to the internet and makes it accessible via your phone and computer. It also learns your habits and preferences to predict when it should turn the A/C on or off.

Sounds great, but what does it have to do with your electric utility? Absolutely everything! Your heating and cooling patterns linked with how you use your home can create a system-wide prediction mechanism for when and where electricity is needed. Solar can be intricately linked to your home system, along with the other residential services that are now available.

The key aspects of home services include: home automation (lighting, cooling, etc), home security, residential solar, broadband (cable, internet), and electricity. Google makes a market in all of them  except for home security. Two of the leading providers in home security include Vivint and Alarm.com, both of which are very active in residential solar (Alarm.com has a partnership with 1BOG) and home energy automation. Vivint was a large force in home security before entering the residential solar space, today holding over 10% market share of residential solar. Home security companies are one of the leading threats to energy utilities as mentioned by many Utility CEOs, so keep your eyes on acquisitions in the sector by either Google or Utilities.

Now that Google has an understanding of your heating and cooling habits with the Nest device, it may have all of the information it needs to be a very effective electric utility. More importantly it has been heading into this direction for years. In 2010, Google filed for and was granted approval to be an energy marketer by FERC1.  Key language from the order includes:

“Google Energy requests authorization to sell ancillary services in the markets administered by PJM Interconnection, L.L.C., New York Independent System Operator, Inc., ISO New England Inc., California Independent System Operator Corp., and the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, Inc. Google Energy also requests authorization to engage in the sale of certain ancillary services as a third-party provider in other markets.”

Google’s presence in solar is no secret, having invested $75million in one of the latest Clean Power Finance (CPF) funds and also sits on the CPF Board through Google Ventures. Google also hosts a large system on its headquarters and has invested in large utility scale projects. To recap, we already know that Google sees your online habits and now is providing you other service options including: broadband access (Google Fiber), wireless (Android), home automation (Nest), and solar (CPF).

Contrary to 60 Minutes reporting, cleantech hasn’t crashed. Google may just be creating the first smart cleantech utility!

Original Article on The Solarserver

In Focus: Google’s Cleantech Investment Strategy


Google has invested billions of dollars in clean energy projects and startups, most recently throwing down $3.2 billion for the intelligent thermostat maker Nest.

Is the internet giant positioning itself to be the next energy giant? Or is the company’s goal less ambitious? In this week’s show, we’ll look at Google’s cleantech investment strategy and ask what the endgame may be.

Then, we’ll examine the recent rise U.S. CO2 emissions and discuss whether the global coal industry is approaching a peak.

Continue Reading at Greentech Media

60 Minutes Disses Cleantech Industry


You would think CBS’s 60 Minutes would have learned from its recent Bengazi debacle, but apparently not – evidenced by this Sunday’s extremely poor and inaccurate report, this time on the Cleantech Industry.

After being pleasantly surprised that 60 Minutes would begin 2014 with a segment on Cleantech, it immediately became clear that the only purpose of the “Cleantech Crash” was to bash the industry.

With a tone that was negative from the start, reporter Leslie Stahl (who often seems to have a superficial understanding of the topics) quickly listed all the company failures of the now infamous Department of Energy (DOE) loan program.

Yes, out of nowhere, she brought Solyndra back from the grave! Then she ticked off the dozen or so other companies that met similar fates, such as A123 Systems, Fisker Automotive, Ener1, and Ecotality. “I’m exhausted,” she said, after finishing her list!

Her main point: taxpayers have little to show for cleantech investments and there really isn’t much to the industry at all.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! This shockingly inaccurate portrayal couldn’t be farther from the truth, but that’s what 60 Minutes apparently wants Americans to believe.

Just as we’re not experts on what happened in Bengazi, most people aren’t aware of how cleantech is progressing – other than what they hear in the media.

Cleantech Facts

Fact: DOE’s $34.4 billion portfolio of loan guarantees has been extremely successful in ramping up the US renewable energy and electric vehicle industries. The FACT is only 3% of loan guarantee recipients failed, said Jonathan Silver, who headed DOE’s program, in a testimony to Congress.

“The vast majority of companies are expected to pay the loans back in full, on time and  with about $8 billion in interest – while supporting 60,000 American jobs and helping us compete in a rapidly growing global industry,” DOE Secretary Chu said at the time of a White House-ordered review of the program.

And how about highlighting the program’s successes? Stahl mentioned Tesla, but what about the enormous utility-scale solar plants that are now producing energy in West? They received loans much bigger than Solyndra.

“Pundits in search of stories focus on repeating a few well-publicized, politicized and probably predictable failures, like Solyndra and A123,” says venture capital leader Vinod Khosla, who was interviewed in the segment. Somehow Stahl managed to make Khosla look bad too with constant provocations about his ‘silly’ investments.

But most importantly, there’s a lot more to the cleantech industry than this one DOE program!
“In addition to the strong performance of many companies, such as SolarCity and Tesla, recent acquisitions and the breadth of private companies generating material revenue is impressive,” noted Sheeraz Haji, Cleantech Group CEO, this past summer.

There have been a slew of interesting, successful cleantech IPOs in 2013 and somehow Stahl failed to even mention the outstanding growth of US solar, which employs over 100,000 Americans. Ooops!

It’s curious that 60 Minutes chose to resurrect the Bengazi and Solyndra stories, both of which Republicans have relied on to make the Obama administration appear incompetent. 60 Minutes is challenging Americans to believe the Republican line that Obama’s “green agenda is an affront to the economy.”

After decades of superbly objective reporting and holding the trust of Americans as no other news program has, it appears that 60 Minutes is also giving in to sensationalist reports that have little relationship to the facts.

Original Article on SustainableBusiness