The sunniest April on record in the UK has ensured a good year for producers of solar energy. The industry recorded its highest electricity production ever of 9.68 gigawatts on April 20 at 12:30. And Powerhouse, a startup focused on solar companies, is part of a bigger movement to support companies focused on low-carbon energy.
Brian McCallion from Northern Ireland has been one of the beneficiaries of exceptionally warm weather. He has been saving close to $1,400 annually in energy bills since he installed them five years ago. He hopes that the technology becomes more efficient.
An average solar panel in commercial use can convert into electricity merely 17% to 19% of the solar energy it receives. It was 12% a decade ago. But can the efficiency of this technology be boosted to 30%?
All About Efficiency For Powerhouse
And efficiency is exactly what companies around the world, such as Powerhouse, are trying to bring into solar energy technology. Improvement in solar technology could boost solar energy output from a mere 2.4% of the global supply of electricity.
The good news is that solar energy is the fastest-growing energy sector. A decade ago, the combined global solar capacity was a mere 20 gigawatts. By the end of 2019, that had grown to around 600 gigawatts. Another 105 gigawatts are expected to be added in 2020.
Pop superstar Prince has anonymously made an initial investment of $250,000 in Powerhouse. The aim was to help fresh solar energy companies face operational challenges that they cannot alone.
This idea has transformed into the Powerhouse group that concentrates on helping the tech startups that are coming up fast around the world. And the sole focus is on solar energy companies.
Powerhouse has an accelerator program and also a program for incubators. While and accelerator provides an initial sum, office space that is either low-cost or free, and an opportunity for startups to network with customers and investors that are starting with fresh know-how and business plans.
Since 2013, the year it started out, Powerhouse has put collectively hundreds of thousands of dollars into 15 fresh startups. This summer they plan to bring into this program a few more solar entrepreneurs.
Powerhouse: A Nexus For Clean Energy Entrepreneurs
The company wants to have a leading role in nurturing innovative technology in the rapidly expanding solar sector. Companies that Powerhouse has supported are using data, software, and the internet, for easier designing, and selling new solar technology.
Such startups bank on the expertise of Powerhouse to bring in investors, find customers through acquisitions or public funding. It is the initial support that matters. CEO and the co-founder of UtilityAPI, Elena Lucas says that they got the credibility and validation at the initial stage, right when they needed it the most.
The improvement in technology has helped a lot. The initial wave of startups had many companies that focus solely on the design and materials for solar panels and calls.
But such startups failed to reach the required levels of technology that could have marked them as efficient. This despite getting big investments from venture capitalists from the Bay Area.
Improved technology has brought down the price of solar energy and attracted more investors in the sector. Emily Kirsch, Powerhouse co-founder says the mission of the company is to turn solar energy into the most available and inexpensive source of energy.
Powerhouse normally gets a small percentage of the equity of the firm it supports and profits when the company goes public or is acquired by an investor. Some of the top startups it has supported have seen an increase in value by 40 times. 4 of the companies that it has supported in the incubator program have since been acquired.
Powerhouse has transformed into a hub of the solar ecosystem and has supported companies to transform breakthrough ideas into reality. Co-founder Danny Kennedy says that such initial-stage investing programs in energy is crucial to enable the transition to clean and low-carbon energy.