August 17, 2016
Posted by Beth Hartman, Electric Power Research Institute
The second annual Incubatenergy Network Summer Meeting on August 2-3 at the Marina del Rey Marriott and the LA Cleantech Incubator (LACI) brought together nearly 100 clean energy experts from incubators and utilities, as well as entrepreneurs who presented their solutions to the group. Ranging from thermal storage solutions to farms inside shipping containers, the innovative ideas highlighted by the 15 companies show tremendous potential for accelerating the transition to a more sustainable energy system.
The event kicked off with an inspiring keynote address from Commissioner Lorraine Akiba of Hawaii, focusing on how innovative clean energy solutions can help lead to a more sustainable and resilient energy grid for the future. Quoting Robert F. Kennedy, she encouraged everyone: “rather than looking at things as they are and asking why, we should look at things as they could be and ask why not.”
Following the keynote, companies supported by incubators in the network presented a wide range of clean energy solutions. First, NETenergy described a thermal energy management system, with Viking Cold Solutions kicking off the second half of presentations with another approach to the same issue. ConnectDER also presented towards the beginning of the first half, highlighting equipment that turns the electric power meter socket on a customer’s home into a standardized interconnection point for solar and other distributed energy resources.
Also during the first half of the pitch panel, AutoGrid Systems and OpusOne Solutions presented technologies for managing data and energy on the grid, while UtilityAPI targets a solution making such data more accessible and understandable for third parties. Other interesting concepts presented during the first half were Inventev, which makes an electric hybrid truck for mobile power generation, and NBD Nano, which makes a super hydrophobic coating to improve efficiency and control the interaction with water across a wide variety of surfaces.
After Viking Cold Solutions kicked off the second half, we saw several innovative concepts including Local Roots, an agricultural shipping container producing the equivalent of 4 acres of farmland, and Atom Power, which makes digitally controlled, purely solid-state circuit breakers. RUTE Foundations presented the interesting concept of producing an anchored beam footing created specifically for utility scale wind turbines, while Igor makes a power-over-Ethernet intelligent LED lighting solution for commercial buildings.
Verdigris Technologies provides smart sensors backed by artificial intelligence in the cloud, while ProjectEconomics offers community solar solutions. Finally, Spirae Wave makes a platform for electric distribution operators to reliably operate systems with high penetrations of renewable energy, storage, electric vehicles, and flexible loads.
Several networking sessions throughout the day allowed these companies to connect with utility technology executives at the event, in addition to interacting with each other and incubator leaders from around the country. Before the evening reception, the first day also included a discussion panel focusing on trends in energy innovation and featuring Dawn Lippert from the Energy Excelerator in Hawaii, Doug Kim from Southern California Edison, Johanna Wolfson from the Department of Energy, and Sara Hochman from Energy Foundry in Chicago. Finally, the day concluded with the introduction of new network members KIC InnoEnergy from Europe and Powerhouse from San Francisco.
The second day of the event featured a tour of the LA Cleantech Incubator (LACI) La Kretz Innovation Campus, an impressive facility with 60,000 square feet of labs and prototyping areas, co-working space, meeting rooms, event centers, and more. Some of the more visually striking elements of the campus included a living wall covered in different types of plants at the entry way, as well as a sleek white smart home of the future that looked like something out of a space ship.
Finally, event attendees met with LACI portfolio companies including BK Litec, Chai Energy, Entrade, Green Commuter, and Pick My Solar. Lunch was served to facilitate additional networking, and the main meeting adjourned leaving smaller breakout groups to discuss future strategy. We look forward to seeing everyone again at this event next year, as well as upcoming conferences this fall such as SXSW Eco in Austin!