From the CEO: Hawaii

I just returned from an amazing week in Hawaii, on the island of Kauai, for a surprise 50th birthday gift from my amazing wife. In between snorkeling, sailing, golf, hiking, kayaking, I also stopped and saw hundreds of solar projects, ranging from big utility scale projects coupled with storage to small systems — my kids were very impressed. Nearly every public building, school, firehouse, municipal center, supermarket had a rooftop solar system, and most homes seemed to have a new solar system as well.  

While I was in the first state in our country to pass a law moving to 100% renewable energy, I was excited to see the experiment up close. Utility scale and customer sited storage will also play a major role in the Islands transformation to 100% renewables. This transformation will drive local jobs, improve public health and protect the fragile environment — which helps drive and support the massive Hawaiian tourism industry.  

 
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This transformation is not easy, simple, or without detractors but the political, regulatory, and utility leadership on all the islands should be applauded for their innovation and leadership in moving Hawaii to a 100% renewable powered state.

Nikola Power is doing more than just thinking about Hawaii, we are actively working on the upcoming HECO solar + storage Request for Proposal.  We are partnering with local landowners and other key industry folks and moving forward with an innovative solar + storage bid. It's a privilege to see Hawaii lead the way and we're excited to be a part of this journey!

–J.W. Postal, Founder & CEO

From the CEO: ESA, NRECA, First Solar and the COSEIA Mountain West Conferences

We've had a busy but very productive travel schedule the last few weeks. Over my 10 years in the renewables space, I have found conferences to be an invaluable use of time and energy. I am able to connect with key partners, new prospects, and targeted vendors.

Generally, I like to speak at conferences as way to better position myself and Nikola Power as a thought leader. I was excited to see and hear significant talk and action on energy storage at each of my most recent events.

We started our events schedule in Washington D.C. at the ESA Annual Energy Storage Policy Forum. It was a great event and an excellent opportunity to network and hear from FERC commissioners, Senate policy staff, and state issues. It's quite clear that energy storage opportunities are growing exponentially. NRECA, was a wonderful event as well that was based in Nashville (got a bit of my Johnny Cash and Bourbon hobbies taken care of). We are working with a few rural cooperatives and looking forward to more work with this exciting market — we have the ability to add real value and talk to decision makers running complex power systems. It was excellent event for Nikola Power with lots of networking and learning.

The First Solar Event was one of the best events of the year. It is an intimate affair with many of the industry's heavy hitters in attendance. The venue, FSLR, planning, and hospitality was second to none. Seeing and hearing about the long-term strategies from one of our industry's largest and most successful companies was tremendous opportunity for myself as a new CEO. I was quite giddy about the dialogue surrounding storage and how better, more intelligent software can be the key to unlocking the true value of storage. The golf and red wine later in the day made for a truly must-attend event.

The Mountain West COSEIA event was a chance for me to be in my home state and help lead the great organization I just became a board member of. Colorado and the Mountain West are a great home for solar companies, solar opportunities, and the new storage landscape with bills passing our State Legislature just this month.

There are many more events on the calendar, including the Energy Storage National Conference in Boston, InterSolar in San Francisco and Solar Power International in Anaheim — we hope to see everyone there!

 

–J.W. Postal, Founder & CEO

Working Towards an Affordable, Reliable, Resilient Energy Future for Puerto Rico

One of Nikola Power’s strategies is to bring solar and energy storage solutions to island nations. These locations are particularly vulnerable to unreliable grid infrastructure and high-priced electricity, and require extensive resiliency measures given their susceptibility to storms and the potential of being cut off from resources.

When we heard about PJ Wilson’s effort to develop a Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) chapter in Puerto Rico, kicking off with a Clean Energy Summit in San Juan, we took the opportunity to be part of the discussion.

I arrived in Puerto Rico not knowing what to expect in terms of the island’s infrastructure, what amenities were open, what locations would have power and water, etc. I had an Airbnb, no car, and a less than certain contact I had never met trying to facilitate a volunteer experience for Saturday. What I found was an emboldened renewable energy community driving towards an affordable, reliable, and resilient energy future for Puerto Rico and its residents, inspiring me and my company to support the effort.

The extent of the previous work that had been done to install solar PV on the island caught me by surprise, but there clearly is an ongoing sea change in the community regarding the desire for a 100% renewable energy future. And, if it is up to the people in the room at the PR-SEIA Clean Energy Summit, I am confident that it can and will happen!

After two days of engaging conversations, presentations, and thought leadership, I had finally confirmed an opportunity through contacts at Sail Relief Team (https://sailrelief.team/) attending the conference to join a volunteer effort on the island of Vieques: an island seven miles off the east coast of Puerto Rico that was particularly hard hit during the recent hurricanes.

Many thanks to Oscar Ruiz, and Sean and Julie Turgeon of Sail Relief team for coordinating the logistics. Sail Relief Team’s long-term goal is to take Vieques 100% off-grid - quite the vision! In addition, I would like to thank Vieques Love (https://www.facebook.com/ViequesLove-147893779146493) and Adrienn Lanczos for welcoming another set of hands on their project.

Vieques was completely cut off from the world before satellite phones and shipments of food and water began to arrive. According to residents, every leaf was stripped off the foliage, leaving an eerie landscape. Mother Nature has come back, but approximately 30-50% of the island remains without power; I stayed in a home that had running water but had not yet been reconnected to the grid. Solar panels and batteries powered internet, solar lanterns, etc.

Our meeting point on Saturday was the local hospital, which has been shuttered due to damage from the storm, and made our way up the steep terrain to the home of a family who not only lost part of their home and source of income as a result of the storm, but suffered additional loss when a generator caught fire after the storm and destroyed the inside of the home.

We helped the father remove debris from the home, we removed all the smoke-damaged cabinetry and refurbished it, we powerwashed the ceiling, walls, and floors of the soot that remained, and began patching the walls that had been damaged. To see the strength of the father as he went all in to rebuild his life and that of his family was inspiring. He had lost everything but was not leaving. Rather, he was forging ahead knowing that “juntos nosotros levantarémos” and that “después de la tormenta viene el calma”.

I hope Nikola Power can continue to be a part of the rebuilding, making an impact on the island and for its people. I am proud to be a part of an organization that cares and that knows little by little, we can make a difference.

– Ben McConahey, Executive Vice President

From the CEO: Adventures in Renewable Energy

Yesterday, we were disappointed to hear the news that President Trump had approved tariffs on imported solar panels, risking the loss of thousands of clean energy jobs. While this news is not ideal for our industry, the Nikola Power team is confident that this is a mere detour on our path towards a clean energy future.

Before the announcement of these tariffs, we had been following the news from Greentech Media (GTM) which highlighted the advantages of energy storage over natural-gas peaker plants. According to Shayle Kann, a senior advisor to GTM Research and Wood Mackenzie:

“I can’t see a reason why we should ever build a gas peaker again in the U.S. after, say, 2025. If you think about how energy storage starts to take over the world, peaking is kind of your first big market.”

The data is clear — as lithium-ion batteries continue to become more inexpensive, the ability to outperform gas peakers becomes more obvious. Within 10 years, energy storage is expected to always win in head-to-head pricing against peaker plants.

So the renewable energy adventure will continue as we face new hurdles from the anti-solar lobby but have good news on the cost curve of energy storage in the same week — this industry is certainly exciting. The news on battery storage pricing proves that with our business, we are in the right space, at the right time.

Despite today’s solar tariff news, our industry and Nikola Power will continue to pursue the combination of solar plus storage where appropriate. Nikola Power is at the forefront of this growing energy storage industry, creating proprietary technology based on our patented optimization algorithms. Our solutions and services will continue to include solar, which remains a proven, cost effective alternative for many customers in many markets across the country. Coupling solar with storage will allow more communities, customers, and utilities to increase the volume of renewables on their grid and the performance of their battery assets — and we can’t wait to see what lies in the journey ahead. 

– J.W. Postal, Founder & CEO

 

From the CEO: Our Stance on the Suniva Trade Case

Earlier this week, an editorial by USA TODAY urged President Trump to reject solar tariffs due to the overwhelming negative repercussions that would impact workers in the American solar-industry. If you have not been following this story, here is a summary:

"On one side are manufacturers SolarWorld, a U.S. subsidiary of a German company, and Georgia-based Suniva, majority-owned by a Hong Kong firm. Both complained to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) that cheap imports, mostly from China, were killing them. Suniva and the SolarWorld parent company are in bankruptcy proceedings.

They filed their ITC complaint under a seldom-used statute in which the criteria is nearly impossible to refute. Commissioners needed only to find that large numbers of an imported product were undercutting a U.S. manufacturer.

On the other side is the ever- expanding American industry that assembles and installs solar panels for homeowners, commercial projects, and solar farms. They include companies such as Tesla, which opened a new factory in Buffalo, N.Y., last month where 500 workers fashion solar panels using the low-cost imports. (Tesla, while it opposes tariffs, says it could absorb the higher product costs.)

This industry is America's fastest-growing energy business, expanding by 20% each of the past four years and now employing nearly 374,000 workers."

Forgoing the oddity of German and Hong Kong parent companies asking for a tariff to bolster American manufacturing, the number of jobs at risk from fair, global competition is in the hundreds — while the assembly and installation sector could risk losing as many as 88,000 workers. In the long-term, this tariff would lead to two simple problems: making the American renewable energy industry less competitive and harming the American worker.

We at Nikola Power stand with the rest of the solar industry and reject the notion that this course of action will benefit us — we are strongly against the tariff.

– J.W. Postal, Founder & CEO

U.S. Energy Storage Summit 2017

Last week, J.W. Postal, Ben McConahey, and Evan Hung from the Nikola Power team attended the GTM U.S. Energy Storage Summit in San Francisco. Our Founder & CEO, J.W. Postal, presented our company and its technology on the main stage and was very well received. It was amazing to see the number of attendees and how excited people are about the possibilities of energy storage — it further reinforced our belief in the possibility of a 100% renewable-powered world and we are extremely excited to be at the forefront of that journey.

We also received some market validation in the form of interest from large strategic partners in Europe. During the conference, we met with a number of individuals leading sizable funds looking to invest in energy storage players like Nikola Power. These meetings are wonderful for us to begin building a foundation for future capital investment, beyond our recently closed seed round, to scale our technology and development initiatives — we are excited to evaluate options like this as we continue to grow.

At the summit, we had the opportunity to listen to leading minds in energy storage on topics such as the evolution of energy storage in the U.S., the role of energy storage in the grid of the future, and the development of new energy storage ownership models. At the moment, California is leading the way with energy storage adoption (behind-the-meter and utility scale) and utilization, but other states are beginning to adopt solutions at a rapid pace.

From the size of the crowd and the excitement and energy in room at the GTM U.S. Energy Storage Summit, it is clear that energy storage is truly the next frontier in renewable energy. In 2018, our goal is to meet potential partners as well as people and companies who are interested in collaboration. If anyone would like to learn more about the tools Nikola Power has in development or the markets we are targeting for solar and storage projects, please email J.W. Postal at jw.postal@nikolapower.com.

CO Impact Days Press Release

Nikola Power Named as CO Impact Days and Initiative Social Venture Finalist

One of 100 to Participate in Second Annual Marketplace for Impact Investing

Denver, November 10, 2017CO Impact Days and Initiative announced the top 100 social ventures that have been invited to meet face to face with investors in order to seek millions of dollars of “impact investments” at CO Impact Days Social Venture Showcase on November 17, 2017 Nikola Power is proud to announce our inclusion. Nikola Power was chosen out of 150 applicants in a competitive process with over 138 judges from around the United States.

The 100 ventures will convene on November 17 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House at the Denver Performing Arts Complex for the second year of this innovative, exciting, “shark-tank for good” statewide marketplace for impact investing.  The chosen social ventures will have the opportunity to showcase their investment opportunities to offer not only a financial return on the impact investor's investment, but also to offer solutions to some of the most pressing issues of our time.

“We are so thrilled to again invite over 200 investors and philanthropists to interact with these valuable social ventures. When these two groups of powerful move-makers share a room, there is no telling the good that will come. We’ve aimed to offer a diverse array of impact investments, with a goal that every investor attendee will leave knowing that deal flow is not a Colorado impact investing problem,” said Dr. Stephanie Gripne, Founder of the Impact Finance Center and creator of CO Impact Days and Initiative. “We’re excited to continue this effort and see even more fruitful collisions at this year’s marketplace.”

The goal of CO Impact Initiative is to catalyze $100 million in impact investments into Colorado social ventures in the next three years, and it is kicking off with CO Impact Days on November 15-17. CO Impact Days encourages a new breed of impact investors and community members to Learn. Connect. Invest.

CO Impact Days’ innovation is uniquely possible because Colorado is home to a number of national leaders in impact investing and a thriving and collaborative community of social venture entrepreneurs in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, plus philanthropists and investors who are committed to growing Colorado’s economy and creating good jobs while ensuring our state remains one of the best places to work, live and play in the U.S.  

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About CO Impact Days and Initiative

CO Impact Days is in the second year of its trail blazing effort to create a statewide marketplace for impact investing; identifying, connecting, and celebrating Colorado's top social ventures and impact investors from the Western Slope to the Front Range. CO Impact Days’ brings together Colorado’s top 100 social ventures, 200 impact investors, and 500+ community members to Learn. Connect. Invest.  For more information or tickets, visit www.coimpactdays.org or contact Kristin Giant at kgiant@coimpactdays.org.

CO Impact Initiative, created by the Impact Finance Center and led by Dr. Stephanie Gripne is a 3-year strategy to elevate and accelerate impact investing in Colorado, catalyzing the flow of $100 million in investment capital into Colorado social ventures that deliver positive impact on the state’s communities, economy and natural environment.

About Nikola Power

Nikola Power was founded in 2017 by veteran renewable energy executive Jonathan W. Postal (J.W.).  The company develops projects in energy storage and solar, and possesses patented battery algorithms that can optimize the performance and lifespan of energy storage assets. Nikola Power is partnered with the University of Colorado’s High-Capacity Battery Research and Test Laboratory for technological development and with Mortenson Construction for national project integration.

 

SELF Annual Report

We were extremely excited to receive the following note this week about the work the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) has done in 2016. It's incredibly rewarding to see organizations like this doing impactful work around the world and bringing renewable energy solutions to local communities.

 

2016 Annual Report

October 17, 2017

Dear Friends & Supporters,

I am pleased to present SELF's 2016 Annual Report to you. You will see that this version is a little different from previous years. Of course, we share our accomplishments, but this time we also bring you personal essays written by several of our dedicated staff. This format change is in response to a survey we conducted last year. In it, we were told by a majority of respondents that they want to hear stories from the field. I hope you enjoy these accounts as much as I have.

Some of SELF's highlights from 2016:

  • In Northern Benin, we installed a 12th Solar Market Garden (SMG) and Micro-enterprise Center (MEC) between the villages of Lou and Danganzi, and we installed three new clean water stations in the Kalalé District.
  • In Haiti, we began restoring solar electricity to 12 health centers on Haiti's Southwest Coast that were damaged by Hurricane Matthew, and we continued solarizing the Haitiain vaccine cold chain to assure that inoculations are widely available. We also witnessed the launch of the micro-grid that SELF installed for homes and businesses in Haiti's Central Plateau. In preparation for the opening of the National Solar Training Center in Port-au-Prince in 2017, we finalized and translated the training curriculum from English to French.
  • In terms of innovation, we engineered an energy harvest device that can safely divert surplus electricity from solar direct-drive vaccine refrigerators to help power medical equipment and lights in remote clinics around the world. 

   The full report can be accessed here:

SELF's accomplishments in 2016 are a testament to our determination to make a significant contribution to help eradicate energy poverty and mitigate climate change. We are empowered by the knowledge that supporters like you are partnering with us on this important endeavor. So, when you read this 2016 SELF Annual Report, the credit goes to you as well for the inroads we made in 2016. I look forward to what we will accomplish in the future!

Denver Startup Week Second Place Win and Funding Update

I had a fantastic time at Denver Startup Week 2017 last week! It brought together over 17,500 entrepreneurs, investors, and business leaders focused on startups, and I took the opportunity to attend as many sessions as possible to learn and connect with others. The event organizers did a great job bringing everyone together to foster passion, motivation, and innovation. I feel fortunate to live in a city with such a thriving startup community.

For me, the highlight of the week was the Pitch Competition. The competition was fierce, and I do not envy the judges having to select only three winners from the impressive finalists. The winner, Boogaloos Beds, creates and sells smart beds for people with autism and other sensory disorders to improve their sleep, safety, and sensory control. They are hoping to improve the lives of the estimated 71% of children with Autism who have sleep disorders. Nikola Power wishes them well in their important work.

The 3rd place winner, AI Health, is also hoping to improve lives: they want to quickly and efficiently match patients being discharge from the hospital to Post-Acute Care (PAC) facilities. They have developed a platform to match patient needs to PAC reviews, capabilities, and availability. A good fit between patient and PACs will ensure patients get home quicker and in better health, and we hope AI Health succeeds in their mission.  

I am honored Nikola Power placed second among these inspiring startups. This is great validation of our progress and potential, and I would like to thank everyone who took the time to vote and help us into the final round! We are fortunate to have such great support and have worked hard to be where we are today.

Speaking of support, we are in the middle of raising our seed round. We have two lead investors, the Rockies Venture Club (RVC) and Laurence Chang, former Janus Capital Portfolio Manager, who have been fantastic partners. We are making solid progress and have already raised a third of our round. We are looking forward to closing this round and implementing our vision of a 100% renewable energy powered world!

Thank you everyone for helping us get this far! If you are interested in either participating in the seed round or working with us to deploy solar and energy storage, please reach out to me at jw.postal@nikolapower.com.   

Below is a picture of our team with the second place DSW Pitch Competition award:

 From left to right: Ben Joseph, Leslie Fredrickson, JW Postal, Evan Hung, and Bernadette Jendrusch. Missing from the picture is Ben McConahey.

From left to right: Ben Joseph, Leslie Fredrickson, JW Postal, Evan Hung, and Bernadette Jendrusch. Missing from the picture is Ben McConahey.

Solar Power International 2017

Las Vegas is a fun but overwhelming place to hold a major conference. This was my 9th SPI, so I have seen the industry grow, struggle, duck, dive, dip, and thrive again. The city's venues are top notch — but the sheer size, heat, and chaos of the city can be tough to manage when doing business. Nevertheless, we all preserve and "suffer" through 3 days in Vegas. 

This is my first SPI as a CEO of my own company which is thrilling, fun, and a bit scary. The push for meetings, conversations, and all important party invites are now all for my own company. 

However, it's an amazing event — I ran into old friends, colleagues, and clients as well as new partners all within one hallway on the way to find coffee! Despite the backdrop of today's political climate and an on-going industry trade case, the buzz at the show was overwhelming positive. We have reached a tipping point where the momentum towards a clean energy future for our country and the rest of the world was surging at SPI. 

Nikola Power's entry into the growing space of Solar + Storage seems almost too perfect. Investors, customers, manufactures, and the media were all talking about the combination of Energy Storage and renewables and how it can finally drive the true adoption of clean energy — it's clear that energy storage can make our vision of a 100% renewable energy-powered world a reality. On the day I spoke on a panel about Energy Storage Finance, it was inspiring to see a packed house with audience members asking excellent questions — SPI is a must-go conference and I look forward to many more in the future.

– JW Postal, Founder/CEO

Denver Startup Week Pitch Competition

Nikola Power has been selected as a semi-finalist in the Denver Startup Week 2017 Pitch Competition! We're extremely excited for the opportunity to share our vision of a 100% renewable-powered world with the community and are excited to see you all at the live event.

In the meantime, we need your vote — register with Denver Startup Week and vote for Nikola Power!

 

  1. Go to https://www.denverstartupweek.org and register for Startup week. Registration is free and you don't have to attend the events to vote.
  2. After you've registered, go to https://www.denverstartupweek.org/pitch_contest/entries and click on the “Thumbs Up” icon to vote for Nikola Power.
  3. That’s it, thank you for voting!

 

Nikola Power Is B Corp Pending

Nikola Power acknowledges that our mission of creating a 100% renewable energy-powered world can’t be done alone—positive changes must be made collectively. We impact and serve not only our shareholders but also our community and our planet. There’s no movement that better embodies this belief than the B Corp’s growing global movement of people using business as a force for good. 

We Are Still In – Are You?

In my previous post, I wrote about how it was time for leaders to lead. Well, just days after Trump's decision to back out of the Paris Climate Agreement, thousands of leaders across the U.S. galvanized into action by joining forces to reduce carbon emissions. Leaders – such as mayors, governors, business leaders, and college presidents – took matters into their own hands and vowed continued commitment to the agreement in an open letter to the world. The list of signatories increases every single day — you can become one too, sign up here

Time for Leaders to Lead

My middle son is 15 years old and he is frequently prone to moods and mumbling, and is a generally a distracted teenager. However, on Thursday evening he was sad, frustrated, and embarrassed (not by his Dad’s dance moves, which are awesome) but by the exit from the Paris Climate Agreement.

Update from Record Setting Energy Storage Conference

The 27th Annual Energy Storage Association’s (ESA) Conference and Expo was held in Denver, my hometown, on April 18th-20th. This was my first foray at an energy storage only event, and it was a big success with record-setting attendance and the largest ever energy storage expo hall. The large number of attendees, and particularly the wide range of companies, was a clear sign that the storage industry has transitioned from the emerging phase to the growth phase – from a small number of companies centered around battery technology, to a much more diverse set of companies specializing in all aspects of storage projects, including power conversion, system integration and software and controls. It is also an industry that is increasingly characterized by companies such as Nikola Power with experienced, industry veterans, and well capitalized players, that can drive change, expand scale, and increase efficiency.