Energy and Sustainability Startup Companies

Energy and Sustainability Startup Companies

By Bruce Naegel  June 2018

Plug and Play’s (1) Summer Summit 2018 featured Energy and Sustainability startup companies.  Plug and Play uses the Summit to promote and accelerate their client startup companies. Plug and Play states they are the largest startup accelerator. Their main office is in Sunnyvale CA and they have branches around the world. The main elements of the Summer Summit are:

  • Three-minute sales pitch to the entire audience (200 people).
  • Display area where potential clients can meet with the startups. Each company gets a small tabletop (about 24 inches).

The Plug and Play Summer Summit 2018 featured companies in these Energy and Sustainability segments:

  • Energy positive water purification
  • Pumped hydro energy storage
  • Geothermal energy generation
  • Measuring methane (and other gases)
  • Security management
  • Network energy management
  • Lighting and more
  • Measuring solar PV systems.
  • Solar for remote areas
  • Managing batteries
  • Personal mobility charging station

Energy positive water purification

Water Purification takes energy. Energy and sustainability solutions minimize energy usage.  How do we get to a water purification system that maximizes energy and sustainability?  Fortunately, we are developing energy positive water purification systems.  This means the water purification system generates more energy than it uses.

Microganic (2), based in Albany New York, uses blackwater as their water source for its solution.  PTG (3) is in the Bay Area and uses cooling water from a gas turbine as the input stream. PTG displayed at the SSV water conference.

Pumped hydro energy storage (4)

Pumped Hydro is the most common form of energy storage.  Using renewable energy with energy storage serves energy and sustainability.  Pumped Hydro is 70 to 80% efficient, has 96% market share and is low in price.  However, it only works only in places with hydro power (e.g. dams).

Gravity Power (5) fixes the vertical height / location issue with a deep hole in the ground. If one digs this hole economically, many locations will use it. Pumped Hydro has long duration output needed for utility scale storage.

Geothermal energy generation

Geothermal electricity generation starts with pumping water into a well.  The bottom of the well has hot rocks, heating the water. The heated water comes out of the well and spins turbine connected to generators.

It is also relatively carbon free. This makes it an energy and sustainability solution. A power system with geothermal energy can balance out the peaks and valleys from wind and solar.

Conventional Geothermal plants use water as the transfer agent. Using water can degrade the output over time. GreenFireEnergy (6) solves this problem using Superecritical C02 as the transfer agent.  This supercritical C02 can restore old wells as well as power new ones.

Measuring methane (and other gases)

Natural Gas power plants are a step towards a power system with energy and sustainability. Burning Methane (CH4 or Natural Gas) in a power plant creates only 1 pound of C02 per kWh. This is instead of the 2 lbs.  per kWh from a coal fired power plant.

Unfortunately, methane can leak. When it does, it has 25x the GHG effect of C02. Several studies show burning and leaking methane is providing as much GHG effect as making electricity from coal. We are not serving Energy and Sustainability well if we are leaking methane.

Older gas pipeline infrastructure is the most subject to leaks. Palo Alto had serious gas leaks (1930s era) until its gas pipelines were replaced. To fix the leaks, you need to find them. Some people have mounted laser gas sensors (LIDAR or Light Detection and Ranging) on motor vehicles.

Sensing from the air is a better way to cover large areas.  Skyx (7) provides Measurement as a Service for detecting methane. They have a system built around an aerial platform. They have proven its abilities in Mexico monitoring gas pipelines. They can detect where thieves have broken into gas pipelines to steal gas.  Two other companies with chemical sensors are Pollution (8) and Indrio (9). They work for factory applications and detect a range of chemicals.

Security management:

Energy and sustainability solutions need security.  To start, one needs a unique way to identify the entity asking for access to the network. One way to provide that identify is a hardware token. These security tokens are hard wired with a unique ID.  One can compare the key on the hardware token to the allowed entities. This filters out actors who should not be on the network. Vivity (10) supplies hardware security tokens. They are simple to embed in the architecture as they are activated by a single line of code.

Vivity supplies a hardware token for securing IoT networks

One can breach network security in many locations. Hardware tokens help, but one needs more security methods. Indegy 11) is a multilayer solution for Internet of Things (IoT) networks. Indegy includes threat detection to show when a threat has occurred. It also includes vulnerability management. This provides tools to manage vulnerability when it occurs. It also contains asset tracking. One can then know what assets are on the network. These features are part of what makes up a comprehensive security solution.

Network energy management:

Energy and Sustainability can increase when one monitors the energy used in a building. Measurements help direct effort. This allows the building staff to focus on true problem areas.   Envio Systems is one of the systems shown at Summer Summit 2018. Envio emphasizes its ease of installation and usage.

Energy and Sustainability Network Management
Envio Systems supplies an easy to install network management system

Circuit Meter provided the second solution. It has a variety of electrical power sensors that cover a range of power applications. Circuit Meter also includes a scalable architecture. This enables one to measure large environments.

Lighting and more

Omniflow (14) has OmniLED outdoor LED lighting system with Solar and Wind generation.  OmniLED, the lighting system, can provide light without a connection to AC power. OmniLED can also supply power for an IoT platform node. This then allows a range of revenue generating services

Measuring solar PV systems.

A solar PV array enhances energy and sustainability. However, a PV array can have problems that reduce its output.  The best way to see if there is a problem is with an independent light measuring device. Solar Analytics (15) supplies such a device.  It has a wireless connection to a central monitoring station. Comparing the output of the measuring device to the output of the solar array can indicates if a problem has occurred. One can then dispatch services to fix the problems.

Solar for remote areas

Yousolar (16) addresses energy and sustainability for remote locations with solar energy and storage. The PowerBloc™ is ideal for three types of customers: those on unreliable grids who regularly run diesel generators, those who cannot net meter with their utility provider, and those who have no access to grid power. Yousolar is designed to work in warm climates where powering the air conditioner is a necessity.


Managing batteries

Energy and sustainability solutions are using more batteries for energy storage. Batteries are getting better. Since we understand them better, we can manage them better.  Improved software is key to better battery management. This applies both to new battery types and to existing batteries.    One vendor supplying better battery management software is Watt-Learn (17).

Energy and sustainability battery management
Screen describing Watt-Learn Battery Management software



Personal mobility charging station

We need energy and sustainability solutions for our transportation system.  Part of the solution is moving from SOVs (Single Occupancy Vehicles) to personal mobility (e.g. walking, bicycles and scooters). Electric scooters and bicycles are becoming more popular. These devices extend the effective range over the nonelectric versions.

An electric solution requires charging stations. Programs exist for expanding the charging stations for electric cars. As the population of electric scooters and bicycles grow, they will need charging stations as well.  Y- lectry (18) is ready to supply that device.

Energy and Sustainability Personal Mobility
Electric scooter requiring charging

Energy and Sustainability:

Energy and Sustainability are maximized when energy is reduced. They are also optimized when gas leaks are minimized. They are also maximized when a facility for supplying energy or energy savings is optimized.

Plug and Play’s Summer Summit 2018 presented several solutions across the energy and sustainability space.  They represent a good cross section of solutions.






Energy and Sustainability Crowd at Plug and Play
This is tje overflow crowd attending Plug and Play Summer Summit 2018 for Energy ans Sustainability.