In the world of energy, Hawaii is an excellent early market for startups to test and vet their technologies. The state is facing challenges with its energy system before most other markets, and its high energy prices make new solutions cost competitive there before nearly anywhere else in the world. Startups flock to the island state to launch their expansion to markets in the Asia Pacific and US mainland.
The Energy Excelerator, with the help of key stakeholders, identifies the state’s most pressing energy challenges and selects a cohort of startups with innovative solutions to help solve them. “We are excited to work with a new cohort of startups with a ton of experience in running successful companies,” says Dawn Lippert, Director of the Energy Excelerator. “These are really smart people that have vetted technologies and are eager to partner with our local businesses to help solve some of our most difficult energy challenges.”
Through funding from the US Department of Energy and the US Department of Defense’s Office of Naval Research, the Energy Excelerator will invest $5 million into 17 new startups. In addition to funding, the Energy Excelerator helps these companies demonstrate their technology and vet their go-to-market strategies by connecting them to investors, customers, and strategic partners.
Hawaii currently has the highest level of grid-tied renewable energy in the country. With over 10% of Oahu buildings having installed PV systems and a high level of renewable energy deployment, new technologies are needed to handle and distribute these electrons on the grid. On top of having a high percentage of variable renewable energy, each of the islands has a pronounced evening ramp leading into a high peak demand. Oahu alone experiences a spike of 300 MW in the evening as people come home from work and visitors come back from the beach. The following startups are working towards addressing these challenges.
Edisun Heliostats develops low-cost concentrated solar power with built-in storage using rocks as a storage medium.
Go Electric delivers the next generation of microgrids for facilities that need to attach or detach to utility power at a moment’s notice.
Infinite Invention supports the integration of solar on the electric grid through plug-and-play solar connection and control.
Rebound Technology turns supermarket freezers into batteries.
www.rebound-tech.com | @reboundtech
Shifted Energy creates a virtual power plant of electric water heaters to store excess renewable energy and deliver demand response.
www.ShiftedEnergy.com | @shiftedenergy
Spider9 develops smart controllers that make large battery systems more reliable and profitable.
www.spider9.com | @spider9inc1
In 2012, Honolulu became the third-most traffic congested city in North America. The city is faced with utilizing existing infrastructure to accommodate the growing population of Oahu. A high-speed rail system is under construction and will eventually connect Oahu’s west side to the airport and downtown Honolulu. The new rail system creates a need for last-mile solutions and other supporting infrastructure. Just as the electricity grid is changing and evolving to incorporate new digital solutions to these challenges, the transportation sector is changing as well. The ability to integrate new transportation options with renewable energy, building efficiency, and digital technology is vital to an affordable and sustainable transportation future.
Bandwagon will work to connect passengers to share rides and taxi fares through a mobile app.
www.bandwagon.io | @hibandwagon
FreeWire Technologies combines robotics and energy storage to create a network of electric vehicle chargers.
www.freewiretech.com | @freewiretech
Ridescout aggregates public, private, and social transportation options into one mobile app.
www.ridescoutapp.com | @ridescout
TransitScreen synthesizes all sustainable transportation options in real time into one screen.
www.transitscreen.com | @transitscreen
Innovative solutions often call for new financing models. On October 1, 2014, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission passed a $150 million green energy financing program (Green Energy Market Securitization — GEMS), expanding access to solar and other energy improvements. This is the first financing model in the nation to get approved to provide low-cost financing for the installation of clean energy equipment. Innovative models, such as those developed by the following startups, are needed to help individuals and businesses take advantage of new financing programs.
Effortless Energy offers free home energy upgrades at no cost to customers.
GoEffortless.com | @goeffortless
kWh Analytics reduces financial risk and enables solar financing through analysis of asset performance.
kwhanalytics.com | @kwhanalytics
The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative set a 30% energy efficiency portfolio standard by 2030. Achieving that goal involves making energy efficiency simple and valuable for commercial and residential energy users. These companies are using innovations in software to make inefficient systems and devices smarter.
Bidgely allows homeowners to monitor energy usage by appliance in their homes without expensive and intrusive hardware sensors.
www.bidgely.com | @bidgely
Bright Light Systems combines energy efficient lighting and automation.
www.brightlightsystems.com | @brightlightsys
BrightBox Technologies improves HVAC performance and comfort, and lowers operating costs, through optimization software.
Agriculture is a prominent part of economic life for many islands around the Asia-Pacific region. Increases in the cost of water and energy as well as limited land and resources have created an urgent need for integrated, low-cost agricultural solutions. Hawaii’s year-round growing season attracts startups innovating in the agriculture space.
Kunoa Cattle Company enables large-scale local food production powered by renewables.
Prota Culture produces biodiesel and animal feed from organic waste
www.protaculture.com | @protaculture
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