Not much has changed in the energy industry since the dawn of electricity over a hundred years ago. We pretty much produce and distribute power the same way as we always have.
Yet we live in exciting times. With the advent of renewable energy, AI, and other innovations, we are set for a major revamp and disruption of the energy sector as we know it.
From the way power is generated, distributed, and managed, much of this innovation has been driven by our need to move away from the more traditional fossil-based energy economy to one that is based on clean energy principles.
According to Fortune, a record $330 billion was invested into clean energy in 2015. Of this amount, $6 billion was invested into clean energy startups.
Here we look at the Top 10 Clean Energy Startups to keep an eye on!
SeAB Energy focuses on a waste-to-energy technology by manufacturing containerised Anaerobic Digestion units.
These units help to turn organic waste into energy exactly at the point where the waste is produced and the energy is required—in supermarkets or small to medium businesses that produce between 500kg and 3000kg of organic waste per day.
The company has taken the logistical challenges and complexities of anaerobic digesters by offering a plug and play solution.
Anaerobic digesters use special bacteria to break down organic waste to produce biogas. This biogas is then used to produce electricity or heat by providing clean gas to a generator.
Much of the challenge up until now was having to transport the organic waste to the anaerobic digester.
SeAB Energy has solved logistical waste transport challenges to the actual biodigester by developing a scalable system in a container that can be installed at the waste source—a plug’n’play solution that processes the waste onsite with the biogas then used to provide heat and power to the facility.
The main office of the company is located at the University of Southampton Science Park in the South of England.
The matching of energy supply and demand has always been a delicate balancing act, along with proper energy price signals.
The electricity grid is a complex distributed network of power generators, substations and electricity consumers on the supply side.
Origami Energy from Cambridge, UK has developed an online marketplace that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and Big Data to predict supply and demand of electricity more accurately.
The solution is holistic, looking at both the supply and demand of electricity and managing it efficiently.
Origami Energy has built an intelligent Technology Platform to remotely monitor and dynamically control distributed energy assets in real-time.
For example, energy traders can see flexibility across their portfolio in real-time and quickly make changes to improve their imbalance or trading position.
It allows energy suppliers and traders to buy, sell and trade better.
One of the major challenges up until now with renewable energy is the variability of it.
The sun isn’t always shining or the wind blowing when the demand for electricity is required the most.
When there is a shortage of clean energy supply due to excess demand, then this gap must be filled with baseload power stations that are able to provide constant power output.
Think nuclear or coal powered stations here.
The solution of course is energy storage, storing excess renewable energy produced for when it’s needed.
H2GO Power has developed a hydrogen-based energy storage system that can be used to efficiently store large amounts of clean energy as a solid-state carbon-free synthetic fuel and release it when it’s needed.
H2GO Power claims it can also be sold to hydrogen vendors such as the hydrogen electric vehicle market or consumer electronics (such as smartphones and laptops) and drones.
Kite Power Systems
A completely different take on the way we think of wind power.
Simon Heyes, CEO of Kite Power Systems, has developed the world's first commercial kite-driven power station.
Simon’s company has developed both onshore and offshore wind generation kites. The system consists of two kites flying in a figure 8 fashion at an altitude of 450 meters.
The wind speed at 450 meters is higher than what current wind turbines are exposed to, meaning it has access to more consistent higher wind speeds.
His aim is to develop a cost-effective renewable energy solution that is easy to maintain without the use of government subsidies.
Up until now, most attempts to manage energy better has been on the supply side—think renewable energy supply.
During peak times when energy demand reaches its peak, utilities revert to dirty and expensive fossil fuel power stations.
Upside Energy has turned that notion on its head by using AI-based cloud service to create virtual power stations from energy storage systems owned by businesses and people—uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), solar PV systems (solar panels), electric vehicles, domestic heating systems, etc.
By using AI and a cloud-based service, they are able to feed that energy stored back into the grid at a market-related price.
This approach helps to balance the supply of electricity and electricity demand.
A lot of focus lately is moving towards to energy efficiency, running electrical loads more efficiently to reduce energy consumption.
The benefit of this is reduced carbon emissions and lower energy costs.
Controlling demand reduces the demand from the grid and our power stations.
Watty is a Swedish startup that is targeting the smart-home market.
Using hardware and unique software algorithms via a smartphone app, the system is able to tell you how much energy is being used and where in real time.
This gives the homeowner the power to manage their energy consumption at home a whole lot more efficiently.
Sympower is yet another startup focusing on controlling electricity demand more efficiently.
If an appliance is on and not being used, energy is being wasted and unnecessary carbon emissions are being emitted.
Sympower has developed a unique cloud-based software platform that switches appliances on and off according to peak demand periods without affecting your comfort. Think about heating systems, water boilers, ventilation systems, energy storage devices, and more.
Sympower aggregates appliances in a pool via our cloud-based platform. The connected appliances are powered up or down when available, for short periods of time.
It’s a cleaner, cheaper and more efficient method for balancing the grid, where demand is adjusted to meet the grid’s needs.
This solution is available to both businesses and homeowners.
Wapo is the world's first AI facility manager!
Wapo, a Dutch startup, has developed an AI chatbot that interfaces with Building Management Systems and different sensors installed in a building measuring different environmental changes.
A BMS, or Building Management System, is a complex software tool that manages different aspects of a building such as the air conditioning, lighting schedules etc.
If you have an issue with air conditioning in your office, then chat to Wapo and he will assist in resolving the issue.
If he can’t resolve the issue then he will log a call with maintenance personnel.
The objective of Wapo is to improve productivity and improve the energy efficiency of buildings.
The sharing economy,which is already disrupting consolidated industries, will soon enter the energy field thanks to a huge number of connected IoT devices that will exchange energy and data.
We are also quickly moving to a decentralized energy model, as more people start to produce and consume their own energy—the so-called prosumers (a mix of producers and consumers).
Dajie (Distributed Autonomous Join Internet & Energy For Everyone) is an Italian startup focusing on implementing blockchain technology in the energy sector.
As feed-in tariffs and net-metering falls away, another viable alternative will be required for the trading of energy.
Using blockchain technology, Dajie is developing a centralised trading platform that will allow prosumers of rooftop solar PV systems to trade excess energy with their neighbours.
One of the main competitors of Dajie in Australia is Power Ledger.
The energy market is developing rapidly, providing good opportunities for improving our lifestyles, saving costs and finding new investment possibilities.
It’s time to switch our focus from global energy corporations to young yet ambitious startups that are going to be major disruptors to the energy sector very soon.
Get ready for the shake-up!
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