Power Line: The billion-dollar battery race, top wind companies, and seeking nominations for the rising stars of clean energy

The battery company Amprius is among a trove of startups developing silicone-anode lithium-ion batteries. Last October, Amprius announced a partnership with Airbus, which is developing all-electric aircrafts.

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The battery company Amprius is among a trove of startups developing silicone-anode lithium-ion batteries. Last October, Amprius announced a partnership with Airbus, which is developing all-electric aircrafts.
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Airbus

Hello, and welcome to Power Line, a weekly clean-energy newsletter from Business Insider.

What you need to know:

  • Sign up here to get Power Line in your inbox every Friday.
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  • Have a tip or feedback to share? Reach out to energy@businessinsider.com.

We’re looking for the rising stars of clean energy

Think: Lynn Jurich, before Sunrun was dominating residential solar. Or Lizzo five years ago – but, you know, in the very-different business of energy.

The details: Business Insider is looking for up-and-comers who are set to transform the clean-energy industry.

  • Maybe they founded a startup or are rising fast within a big renewable power company. Or maybe they’re doing groundbreaking research in an academic lab.
  • These are the people who everyone in the business will be talking about in the next few years.
  • Do you know someone who fits that description? If so, please fill out our nomination form. (It’s very short.)

Now, let’s get to it.

The startup Sense makes a home sensor that

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The startup Sense makes a home sensor that “listens” to your appliances.
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Sense

This hot piece of tech that has investors buzzing listens to the hum of your home appliances

There’s a constant chatter among your toaster and oven and fridge. But you can’t hear it because it’s in the language of … electricity.

Each appliance in your home emits a unique signal as it sucks down energy. The startup Sense has a $299 device that can listen in – and it says it can save you money when it does.

Here’s how it works:

  • The device sits inside your electrical panel and analyzes the energy your home is using in real time.
  • It applies a machine-learning algorithm to identify subtle differences in current and voltage, which it then tries to match with the signal of appliances in a growing reference database.
  • The sensor feeds that data to the homeowner through an app. It shows them how much electricity different devices are using, and when.

This comes with a lot of potential benefits – especially for those who fear they may accidentally burn down their homes. You can read about those here.

Investors are piling in

Sense has raised $50 million from big backers including Shell and Schneider Electric, and here’s why:

Tesla's solar roof

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Tesla’s solar roof
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Tesla

A financial analyst bought Tesla solar panels to see how well they work. Then he sent the company’s share price soaring.

Although Tesla acquired one of the country’s leading residential solar companies back in 2016, the electric vehicle giant hasn’t exactly focused on its solar business.

  • Tesla’s battery and solar-panel segment accounted for only 6% of sales in 2019.
  • Tesla is being crushed by competitors – namely, Sunrun, which installed more than twice as many megawatts of residential solar in the first nine months of 2019.

Will that change? A top financial analyst certainly thinks so.

  • As Markets Insider’s Ben Winck reported on Wednesday, the research firm Piper Sandler boosted its Tesla price target, causing Tesla’s stock to surge on Wednesday.
  • The firm believes that customers who buy Teslas will increasingly opt for solar panels as well.
  • “In the coming years we think Tesla will replicate its success in Energy Generation and Storage,” the note said.
  • Alex Potter, an analyst at Piper Sandler, bought solar panels for his home in Minnesota to charge his Model X. “The results have been illuminating so far, and we’re upping our price target accordingly,” the note said.

Do you have tips about Tesla’s solar business? Please email energy@businessinsider.com.

Venture capitalists have dumped $1 billion into a new kind of lithium-ion battery

OK, so I’m into battery content! That’s because the science is really neat, and it has MAJOR implications for all of our tech – and, increasingly, our cars.

The news: A raft of startups is working on batteries made with silicon anodes, which promise 20-40% improvements in energy storage. That means longer lasting phones and more mileage for EVs.

Tell me about silicon-anodes: You can get the full rundown here. But basically, anodes hold the charge inside a battery. Most lithium-ion batteries are made with graphite anodes, which does a decent job at holding charge. Silicon can do better – it can hold about 3x more energy.

Over silicon that fast? There’s another battery in the works – solid-state cells made with lithium-metal. It promises even greater increases in energy storage.

Seimens Gamesa

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Siemens

The top 5 companies dominating the US wind industry

More like the only 5, amirite?

There are nearly 60,000 wind turbines spinning across the US, and most of them are made by just five companies.

See the full list here.

2 big stories I didn’t cover

  • Jeff Bezos is planning to spend $10 billion to fight climate change, or about 8% of his estimated net worth, which he announced in … an Instagram post.
  • New study alert: It’s a big one, revealing that the oil and gas industry may be responsible for “25-40% more of the total share of methane emissions than previously estimated,” per MIT Technology Review.
  • US solar jobs have risen by 167% in the last decade, according to the Solar Foundation’s latest census report. Women make up a quarter of the workforce.

Finally, here are this week’s top updates

  • Carbon Clean Solutions, a carbon-capture company focused on point-source emissions, raised $16 million from investors including Chevron.
  • Sustainable lithium mining startup Lilac Solutions raised $20 million in a round led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a fund spearheaded by Bill Gates.
  • Google’s parent company Alphabet is no longer supporting the airborne wind upstart Makani. Shell still backs the company, which generates energy through small wind turbines attached to kites.

That’s it! Have a great weekend.

– Benji