Yotta Energy, headquartered in Austin, Texas, was founded by Omeed Badkoobeh and Vikram Iyengar in 2017. The company makes PV solar panel-level energy storage, a microinverter, and energy management software for the commercial and industrial rooftop market. Recently, Yotta announced two new major developments. The company raised additional funding of $3.5 million, increasing its total Series A funding to $16.5 million. Also, the Department of Defense Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) awarded it $1.97 million for a solar power and energy storage microgrid project at Nellis Air Force Base. Nellis is located in southern Nevada and has a population of about 8,900, with six aviation units. The base can accommodate up to 300 aircraft. The new funding round and award bring Yotta’s total funding to over $25.5 million.
CEO and Co-founder Omeed Badkoobeh answered some questions about their new funding and Air Force base project for CleanTechnica. (If you would like to read more about him, take a look at our interview on CleanTechies.com.)
How much solar power capacity are you installing at the Air Force base? What will be the capacity of the energy storage?
Yotta Energy is installing approximately 450 kW of solar power capacity and approximately 600 kWh energy storage capacity.
Can you share any details about the microgrid’s components and how the microgrid will integrate with the solar power and energy storage?
Yotta Energy plans to showcase its PV-coupled smart energy storage system with advanced thermal management in a ground-mount solar + storage microgrid installation. Our team will be working closely with the base to design and install a solar + storage microgrid that advances the DoD’s energy resiliency objectives. One of the primary goals is to demonstrate how building-level energy storage systems can be cost-effective, modular, scalable, and repeatable.
About much will the base save on electricity bills after the solar, energy storage, and microgrid are functioning?
The project team will work with the DoD to document project activities, results, and conclusions in a final report, which will be published on the SERDP/ESTCP website.
What makes your solar power + energy storage technology unique?
We are looking at energy storage in a completely different way than most companies in the market today. We created an innovative and unique energy storage format designed to be installed outside, due to our patented thermal management system, scale with the solar PV, and simplify the installation process. We’re offering a new energy model that allows building owners to generate revenue from the solar they produce and store.
Our novel PV-Coupled architecture provides customers with maximum flexibility to install energy storage when they need it most. The modular system gives customers the ability to optimize their installation to their exact energy needs while also delivering superior performance and reliability at a price competitive with current solutions available on the market today.
We are also solving the problem of total installed costs for energy storage. The cost of integrating most energy storage solutions is highly variable. The price varies depending on the customized design, infrastructure, permitting, installation, maintenance, and operation, to name a few. This problem has significantly slowed down the growth of solar-plus-storage installations in the commercial and industrial (C&I) sector because the cost is unreliable and can increase depending on the actual energy storage installation. Because of the varied cost, our competitors have moved away from the C&I sector to utility-scale energy storage installations, typically greater than 1 MWh. This leaves our target market, small- to medium- size commercial and industrial rooftop installations, left behind when it comes to energy storage.
What unique considerations did the Air Force base have when considering solar power and energy storage and why did they choose your technology?
The ESTCP committee considers several criteria when evaluating projects, which must respond to a solicitation and specifically address a topic area. For this particular award, Yotta successfully responded to a pre-proposal, and then was invited to submit a full proposal by the ESTCP committee. The following ESTCP blog post also provides additional context for how they select projects for DoD installations.
How will your technology help business owners who want to generate their own electricity from solar power, store it and use it to charge their EVs?
Our technology helps business owners looking to install solar-plus-storage systems, but who may not know where to start. Because of our distributed approach, business owners can install as much energy storage as they need, when they need it. Yotta’s solar-plus-storage technology also helps defray the rising cost of electricity especially as EVs begin to burden the existing electric grid during peak electricity usage times. Yotta’s solar-plus-storage technology gives business owners control over their energy production, consumption, and deployment.
Unlike some of our competitors, we are designing and deploying solar-plus-storage installations that can be installed with the solar PV, require less labor due to the modularity, and are designed to neatly fit into solar PV racking, dramatically reducing total installed costs. Because of our patented thermal management system, our system doesn’t require a bulky container or separate real estate, which can be a problem for business owners who don’t have the space.We also offer business owners another unique solution: energy-storage-ready systems. This allows business owners to install solar PV today while giving them the flexibility to install as much energy storage as they need at a later date.
How will you use the new funding, and what is your vision for the next 3-5 years?
With this round of funding, we will continue to scale and develop our technology that will improve system performance.
Over the next 3 to 5 years, our vision is to drastically increase the number of rooftops with solar-plus-storage from the low single digits of where it is today, so that it becomes the norm. We also hope to increase adoption of solar-plus-storage for the C&I market, especially as big box stores and large corporations look for additional ways to quickly get to net zero emissions.
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