The start-ups disrupting the energy sector
A key sector for change, thanks to the inevitable consequences of climate change and resource issues, lies in energy. There are various start-ups on a mission to completely change the way we all use it, make it and store it.
These early stage companies are leading the way into the future of sustainable energy. They’re working on renewable energy, energy storage and targeting the regions of the world that are most in need. Meet just some of these pioneers below.
- BuffaloGrid – connecting those in need
Launched in 2015, the BuffaloGrid hub works to connect millions of people who have no access to power. While they may not have power, 650 million of them do have mobile phones.
Bringing power and mobile together to the people who are off grid is a massive move towards pushing against the divide. The BuffaloGrid hub (a powerpack attached to a solar panel) allows people to recharge their phones. The company aims to connect more than 500,000 people in India next year.
The service runs in 20 Indian villages where shops provide their customers with power by using the hub. Co-founder Daniel Becerra explains: “We provide our hubs for free to local entrepreneurs who sell services from the hub and receive a share of the revenue.”
- SEaB Energy – converting waste to fuel
This start-up sees waste as fuel and turns a business or an area into its own power plant. By using closed-loops systems called the Flexibuster, which processes food waste and the Muckbuster (for agricultural waste), electricity and heat is generated. This goes to a microgrid that can be shared by multiple people.
One of the biggest clients for this start-up is the NHS, which is utilising the systems to save money.
- Origami Energy – an online marketplace for energy distribution
This company aims to create a real-time marketplace that will distribute energy. The distributed network of energy generation, energy utilisation and energy storage are connected to the grid and monitored through an online marketplace. This means the overall supply and demand of energy on a massive scale is accurately reflected.
- Bulb – renewable energy advocates
The founders of Bulb reckon that renewable energy is ‘the third industrial revolution’. They are working with the fact that it’s no longer necessary to burn materials to generate power. Energy storage is projected to provide cost reductions, Bulb sees energy suppliers becoming energy managers.
They supply green energy (100%) that’s cheaper than fossil fuels. And, with 150,000 members so far, with many more on the way, those who have already signed up are saving 285,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide – the same as the removal of 200,000 cars from the road.
- H2GO Power – developing hydrogen energy storage
Focusing on the future of energy revolving around storage, H2GO Power has come up with a way to store hydrogen gas. It can be burned using nanomaterials in fuel cells, eventually releasing gas. The company is looking at the fast-growing markets in the developing world, in places like Nigeria, where two-thirds of the country are off grid.
- Kite Power Systems – kite-driven power stations
The CEO of Kite Power Systems has created one of the first commercial kite-powered power stations in the world. His company develops wind-generation kites for use on and offshore and aims to make them available without the need for government subsidies.
They fly 450 metres in the air in a figure of eight pattern. As they pull a tether, it turns a turbine and produces electricity. Two kites working together can create a continuous source of energy. As it can fly higher than a wind turbine is built, it can harness winds higher up.
These are just a sample of the companies breaking through the traditional barriers surrounding energy production, consumption and storage. Look out for many more over the next couple of years.
– Freddie Achom