Here are the top stories we&'re following today in cleantech:

Carbon emissions are on track to reach a record high in 2010, largely due to the growing demands for energy and coal-burning power plants in India and China, Reuters reports.

The Department of Energy has handed out $19 million in grants this week to five smart grid research projects, which include energy storage circuits and wireless connectivity for assets located deep underground, Earth2Tech writes.

Former secretary of state Colin Powell gave the wind energy industry its &''battle plan&'' at the American Wind Energy Association&'s symposium last week, Greentech Media writes. The industry has suffered setbacks in the midterm election, losing governors who supported wind and facing a potentially tough battle to convince Republicans on the merits of wind energy.

Honda will pilot its all-electric Fit via Google&'s car-share program, GFleet, a fleet of 30 hybrids and all-electric cars made available to the company&'s employees and managed by Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Google is looking to expand that fleet, Earth2Tech reports.

NRG Energy CEO David Crane wants the company&'s recently announced privately-financed eVgo charging network in Houston to define the car-charging space, in the way that Whole Foods is ubiquitous with organic food sales, according to the WSJ. Crane plans to expand the charging network by focusing on 13 states with deregulated electricity markets. The company may build a national sales force through its recently acquired renewable energy retailer Green Mountain Energy.

Ford and Smith Electric are competing to win a deal from the U.S. General Services Administration&'s planned fleet of all-electric trucks. The agency plans to add 100 electric vehicles to its fleet (overall, it procures around 70,000 vehicles a year), according to Bloomberg.

Nlyte Software raised $12 million in third-round funding for its data center efficiency and energy savings tools.

[Image via Flickr/Senor Codo]

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Tags: carbon, carbon emissions, charging infrastructure, electric car charging, electric cars, electric vehicles, eVgo, green data centers, Smart Grid, wind, wind energy

Companies: Department of Energy, DOE, Google, Green Mountain Energy, Honda, nlyte Software, NRG Energy

People: Colin Powell

Tags: carbon, carbon emissions, charging infrastructure, electric car charging, electric cars, electric vehicles, eVgo, green data centers, Smart Grid, wind, wind energy

Companies: Department of Energy, DOE, Google, Green Mountain Energy, Honda, nlyte Software, NRG Energy

People: Colin Powell

Iris Kuo is the VentureBeat's lead GreenBeat writer. She has reported for The Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong, Houston Chronicle, the McClatchy Washington Bureau and Dallas public radio. Iris attended the University of Texas at Dallas and lives in Houston. Follow Iris on Twitter @thestatuskuo (and yes, that's how you pronounce her last name).

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