Gates has another punt on clean-tech

Bill Gates joins Sun Microsystems venture capitalist in another clean energy investment, this time backing power management firm Varentec.

Varentec is no household name, but the electric grid “power control solutions” provider announced yesterday that it had closed $US8 million in Series B funding from Bill Gates and Khosla Ventures (names that you probably do know).

The $US8 million is for “the production rollout of Varentec’s intelligent power monitoring, control, and data analytics solutions for US and international electric utilities and for various industrial applications”.

“Varentec’s intelligent, decentralised controllers operate at the edge of the network and, coupled with our software analytics, provide the ‘eyes, brain and muscle’ to uniquely enable real-time management of the power network,” said Deepak Divan, co-founder, president and CTO of Varentec.

“With multiple successful pilots at investor owned utilities and co-ops, Varentec is now poised for production rollouts of our Edge of Network Grid Optimisation solutions.

"This Series B funding, with the backing of investors like Bill Gates and Vinod Khosla, not only validates our unique approach, but enables us to solve present grid challenges such as energy conservation, grid optimisation, and grid integration of rooftop PV. It will also allow us to commercialise our cutting edge technology into transformative power delivery solutions data centers and industrial applications.”

More immediate responsiveness allowing for quick and “smart” management of the grid has been a priority for years, but achieving that is one of those “easier said than done” things. Varentec seems to have cracked an important nut or two in this arena.

Varentec’s intelligent power management and data analytics platform is exactly the breakthrough technology that we look for in companies,” said Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures. “Development of cost-effective, intelligent, decentralised power grid solutions has been a challenging problem that has been solved effectively by the Varentec team. This shows the path forward for transforming the present grid into a smart power delivery system and provides countless opportunities for power optimisation across the global electrical grid, in data centers, and in other power-intensive applications.”

Varentec’s technology should result in massive energy savings and also in easier and more efficient integration of renewables into the grid.

From the Varentec homepage:

Our unique approach complements the centralised command and control structure that utilities use to manage the grid today, filling in a major gap in the grid-control capability.

Varentec provides a completely new approach called ENGOTM, or Edge of Network Grid Optimisation. Our solutions improve performance in key areas of:

– Voltage compliance

– Grid reliability

– Efficiency

– Energy savings

– Grid integration of distributed PV

Varentec may never have the brand recognition or rockstar status of Tesla, but it is providing a critically important service and seems to have a bright future ahead of itself … at least, Bill Gates and Vinod Khosla think so!

In case you’re curious, a few of the other notable cleantech startups that Bill Gates has invested in include Aquion EnergyAmbri, and LightSail – all energy storage companies.

Khosla Ventures has also backed numerous cleantech startups, such as SunBorneAmbriLightSailSoraa, and Stion Corp. Yep, you probably noticed there that Bill Gates and Khosla Ventures often have overlapping investments.

Zachary Shahan is the director of CleanTechnica.

Originally published by CleanTechnica. Republished with permission.

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