Potluck Energy launch

Potluck Energy launch

May 26, 2015

Solar energy has never been as affordable and accessible as today. Anyone, in theory, should be able to benefit from the electricity produced from the sun. Yet, that is often not the case:

  1. The capital required upfront, the long-term commitment and the access to a suitable roof makes solar energy still a luxury product. 
  2. Many roofs are not suitable for installing PV panels, because they don't have the required solar exposure, or because a solar installation might increase the risk of leaks
  3. The energy produced by solar is intermittent, and, while it is true that on a daily basis peak solar production roughly coincides with peak consumption, there is a limit to how much intermittent solar energy the current grid configuration can take

Potluck Energy was born to solve these three problems. While we don't assert that solar energy is going to be the only or the ultimate form of energy, we believe that opening up its access will create significant benefits to the real estate owners hosting it and to the households consuming it, while relieving the environment of polluting emissions.

After years of research and work in this industry, we found that a common root is behind all three problems - the underlying infrastructure was built for a different system and architecture. Whether you look at how a roof is conceived and constructed, or at how the electric substations work, you notice fundamental barriers to the spread of solar energy. While the easiest way would be to redesign the grid system and to re-invent the roofing industry, the reality is that any change of this magnitude would take a prohibitive amount of time. We think that the way to address these problems is through a new kind of distributed solar energy. 

More specifically we believe that solar energy should include:

  • Virtual net metering, also known as community solar - this billing mechanism allows anyone to receive net metering credits from a solar installation, while removing large expenses upfront
  • Roof management technology - rapidly developing sensors and machine learning capability allow to safely install solar PV, while reducing the risk of roof leaks and structural damages
  • Battery technology and grid data - whether at substation or at building level, batteries allow to smooth and ramp up or down intermittent production of electricity; on the other hand, data on consumption and production allow to place solar energy installations in the best possible place on the grid

Potluck Energy's mission is to combine and advance solutions in each of the three areas at the same time. Community solar on large roofs, combined with roof management and battery / data technology, can become the most disruptive form of energy ever invented and transform the way we produce and consume energy.

A paper from Stanford’s researcher Jacobson showed that the state of New York’s 500,000 commercial buildings and 5 million houses, through their rooftops could power up the entire state, potentially replacing 5 large nuclear power plants. We can reach this target, by catalyzing the power of online social communities to increase access to solar-powered electricity. Through community solar multiple residents and businesses can tap into their town’s solar farm, without installing anything on their roof.

With annual weather anomalies in continuous increase and virtual consensus among scientists on the origin and cause of such anomalies, we need to increase efforts to curtail the emissions from polluting power plants and cars. We believe that our best chance is to capitalize on the power of communities to spread emission-free energy. Rheinold (“How to thrive online”) illustrates how the currency of social capital are trust and reciprocity. If trust is fueling solar communities, this socially-driven innovation. can spread virally. 

Please join us to change your community electricity sources, protect the environment and invest in tomorrow's energy. 

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