Startup Of The Week

Startup Of The Week: SOLshare

SOLshare, a Bangladesh-based peer-to-peer smart grid operator, has been named the World’s Best Energy Startup 2018 by the Free Electrons Accelerator Program, a global alliance of ten utility companies that cover 76 million customers in 40 countries and have a combined turnover of $163 billion.

The startup, which was also named a 2018 World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer, started by developing the first peer-to-peer solar electricity trading platform for off-grid households in Bangladesh. But “we believe that the smart peer-to-peer networks we are building…. may be the future for utilities globally,” says SOLshare CEO Sebastian Groh.

The ten utilities behind the Free Electrons Accelerator apparently agree. The utilities- including Energias de Portugal (EDP), American Electric Power, Australian utilities Ausnet Services and Origin Energy, Hong Kong’s CLP, Dubai Electric and Water Authority, Ireland’s Electricity Supply Board and Germany’s innogy New Ventures, Singapore’s SP Group and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (SEPCO) — awarded the company first prize and $200,000 in funding in its October startup contest. And, in September the company raised a series A investment round of $1.66 million led by innogy New Ventures LLC, the Silicon Valley-based arm of the innogy Innovation Hub, the accelerator and venture capital investment arm of the German utility innogy. Portuguese utility firm EDP, and the IIX Growth Fund from Singapore also participated in the round.

The startup’s SOLbox Internet of Things meter enables peer-to-peer electricity trading between off-grid households connected to solar panels. As more users connect over time, the SOLshare network grows in supply and allocation, empowering households to become solar entrepreneurs by selling excess energy.

The plug-and-play nature of the SOLbox allows the trading network to grow dynamically from the bottom-up as more users connect over time. The startup’s back-end aims to facilitate secure peer-to-peer electricity trading between users; integrating mobile money payment, data analytics and grid management services. As a SOLshare network grows, it can connect with the national grid, operating in island mode when the grid is unavailable, and drawing power from the grid when it is available. The solution creates last-mile power distribution infrastructure and, says the company, demonstrates the ability for its technology to integrate with expanding rural electricity grids.

About the author

Jennifer L. Schenker

Jennifer L. Schenker, an award-winning journalist, has been covering the global tech industry from Europe since 1985, working full-time, at various points in her career for the Wall Street Journal Europe, Time Magazine, International Herald Tribune, Red Herring and BusinessWeek. She is currently the editor-in-chief of The Innovator, an English-language global publication about the digital transformation of business. Jennifer was voted one of the 50 most inspiring women in technology in Europe in 2015 and 2016 and was named by Forbes Magazine in 2018 as one of the 30 women leaders disrupting tech in France. She has been a World Economic Forum Tech Pioneers judge for 20 years. She lives in Paris and has dual U.S. and French citizenship.