Recurve Refines Energy Retrofits, Sungevity Helps Homes Go Solar, BrightSource Prepares for IPO, & More Bay Area Biztech News

Last week was an unusual one at Xconomy San Francisco: it was practically all energy news, all the time.

—On Tuesday I profiled Recurve, a San Francisco startup that’s systematizing the science of home energy audits and retrofitting using its own in-house software. The company eventually hopes to conduct energy audits and retrofits on a massive scale as a way to help utilities reduce electrical demand.

—I had a fascinating conversation with Danny Kennedy, the founder of Oakland, CA-based solar startup Sungevity. He told me all about the company’s business, which is to make it as frictionless as possible for homeowners to finance and install photovoltaic panels on their houses, and about his background as a former activist and administrator at Greenpeace—and how he made the switch to energy entrepreneurship.

—Japanese electronics giant Sharp said it would acquire Recurrent Energy of San Francisco for up to $305 million in cash. Recurrent develops distributed energy generation facilities for utilities.

—Reports surfaced that Oakland, CA-based BrightSource Energy, which has contracts to build large-scale solar energy plants that will supply electricity to PG&E and Southern California Edison, is preparing for an initial public offering.

—And in non-energy news, I spoke to one of the founders of Whereoscope, whose iPhone app sends alerts to parents every time their iPhone-toting children arrive at a specified location, such as school or soccer practice. Whereoscope participated in the Summer 2010 term of the Y Combinator startup incubator program; I’ve been profiling as many members of that class of startups as I can make time for.

—Speaking of Y Combinator, I visited Anybots, the Mountain View, CA, robotics startup that shares quarters with the incubator. Founder and CEO Trevor Blackwell told me how the company developed its concept for telepresence robots that help office workers in remote locations communicate in a more immersive, informal way than conventional teleconferences allow. And I shot a video starring Blackwell and Suzanne Brocato, the startup’s “virtual receptionist,” who was logged into an Anybots QB robot from her home in Martinez, CA.

—Greg wrote about the passel of lawsuits filed lately against Silicon Valley companies by Boston-area tech companies, including Everyscape’s suit against Adobe, Skyhook Wireless’s suits against Google, and Helicos BioSciences’ suit against Pacific Biosciences.

Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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