Powerhouse Ventures sees board changes in compromise with rebel shareholders william_NBR 19 May 21
Clean energy entrepreneurs sometimes bemoan Silicon Valley's preference for funding software startups instead of the tough tech needed to tackle problems like climate change and crumbling infrastructure. But sometimes software really does the trick. Amrit Robbins found that out the hard way. The Stanford alum founded and led Axiom Exergy, an East Bay startup that raised at least $12.5 million to equip grocery stores with thermal batteries. Those devices use electricity to pre-cool so they can take over refrigeration duties during hours when electricity gets more expensive, saving money for the store. If a power outage hits, thermal storage can keep food cool for several hours, preventing food spoilage. It was a specific instance of a central theme in the clean energy industry: helping a paying customer while making the broader grid system cleaner and more efficient. That company shut down last year after five years, hit by the upheavals of 2020 and the realization that the hardware business wasn't going to scale.
The modern, renewable energy-rich power grid is an increasingly complicated machine to model. Maybe technology born of the massively complicated world of designing computer chips can help. That’s the genesis of Pearl Street Technologies ’ approach to analyzing the complexities of power flows and planning parameters for the transmission grid. Its Suite of Unified Grid Analyses with Renewables (SUGAR) software platform can take minutes to find solutions to highly complex problems that can take traditional modeling methods weeks to derive—or, fail to derive at all. On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh-based startup raised an undisclosed pre-seed investment from Powerhouse Ventures, following an earlier investment Incite Ventures, the investment platform co-founded by Nest co-founder Matt Rogers . The new investment will add to$1.8 million in small business innovation research (SBIR) grants from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy, as well as an award from DOE’s ARPA-E research program on grid optimization software.
A year after launching, solar software startup Terabase Energy has raised $6 million to keep growing its team and services. The Berkeley-based company emerged when SunPower wound down its project development business. Several former SunPower employees built a software tool to manage costs at the kinds of massive solar plants they used to develop: everything from site selection and layout to shipping logistics for millions of panels and the movements of laborers onsite. The ultimate goal is to find enough incremental cost savings across the board to bring the price of solar below one cent per kilowatt-hour in the next five years, said co-founder and CEO Matt Campbell. That would unlock terawatts of solar, making it cost-effective as baseload power in conjunction with longer duration storage—hence the company name. “Everything has progressed the way we thought it would,” he said of the software product. “Our thesis has been validated by clients, and we’re involved with a lot of real projects.” The startup raised seed funding of just under $2 million last year from individual investors and firms like Powerhouse Ventures, City Light Capital and Trancoso Partners.
Access to this site Your access to the site constitutes your agreement to be bound by the General Conditions which are available at… | November 24, 2019