Google invests US$20m in energy conversion technology


24 Feb 2011

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Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins and other venture capitalists yesterday announced a US$20m round of funding for Transphorm. This brings the total capital raised from all rounds to $38m.

Transphorm provides custom-designed power modules that are easy to embed in any electrical system, from consumer electronics products, to industrial motor drives, to inverters for solar panels and electric vehicles, and sells these modules to power equipment manufacturers. Transphorm cuts energy losses that result from converting alternating current, which comes out of wall sockets, to direct current, used by PCs.

Wasteful electric power conversion results in hundreds of terawatts of lost energy across the electrical grid, equivalent to 318 coal-fired power plants and costing the US economy $40bn a year. Executives said the technology, which cuts conversion losses by up to 90pc, is fundamental for the US as it could save all the energy needed to power the West Coast if the entire US adopted it.

“We founded Transphorm to re-imagine what enhanced efficiency in the generation and use of electrical energy can do for our economy,” said Umesh Mishra, CEO of Transphorm. “Why put up with needless energy waste in every electrical system and device, when we can quickly and cost-effectively design products that are inherently energy efficient? Transphorm’s next-generation power modules cut waste, increase efficiency, reduce system size and simplify overall product design.”

Transphorm, which was founded in 2007, has raised $38m from Foundation Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & ByersLux Capital and Google Ventures, the venture capital arm of search giant Google.

"With a global network of data centres, we have a very deep understanding of conversion losses," said Bill Maris, managing partner at Google Ventures.

Transphorm will reveal its first product at the upcoming APEC conference, taking place in Fort Worth, Texas, early next month.