3Tier Raises $10M in Venture Round to “Remap the World” for Alternative Energy

12/18/08Follow @xconomy

Seattle-based 3Tier Group has raised $10 million in venture financing to drive its quest to help developers and financiers spot the best places in the world to build renewable energy facilities. Good Energies led the venture round, which will be used to establish offices in Europe and Asia, as first reported this morning by John Cook at TechFlash.

3Tier’s star has been on the rise this year as the price of oil surged over the summer, rekindling interest in alternatives. Even with oil dropping to less than $40 a barrel, this company clearly has something the world still wants. 3Tier Group is all about using high-powered computers to crunch data that can help governments and energy companies find the most efficient place to put a wind farm, solar panels, or hydropower turbines, as I wrote in a company profile of 3Tier Group last month.

The company, founded in 1999, has grown to about 85 employees based at the Westin Building in Seattle. About one-third bring expertise in atmospheric science, one-third are software programmers, and the rest are in business, said CEO Kenneth Westrick. Their task is to use computing models to forecast the ebbs and flows of wind, solar, and hydro at different times of day and different seasons, for example. This is supposed to give investors more confidence in the reliability of the source of renewable power, over decades, that is needed before they will plunk down hundreds of millions of dollars for a new facility, Westrick said.

Some of 3Tier’s growth has been driven by big customers like General Electric, the Spanish utility Iberdola, Houston, TX-based Horizon Wind Energy, and Seattle City Light. Westrick told TechFlash that the dropping price of oil has “taken a little bit of the wind out of the sails in the short-term,” but he believes that will be offset by a new push for renewables from President-elect Obama.

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