Denver Business Journal: Denver startup aiming for better battery power

Nikola Power was featured in the Denver Business Journal today! Click here to visit their website or read below:

By Cathy Proctor — Reporter, Denver Business Journal
Batteries have long been held up as the crucial piece of technology that will revolutionize the renewable energy industry. 
The power-storage systems can transform the variability of the wind and the sun into a steady, on-demand power supply. 
Battery systems can lower utility bills for businesses that are charged fees based on their peak power consumption during a month, and also provide power to the grid when demand soars. 
That's the goal, but the practical reality is that batteries are black boxes that — today — don't provide a lot of precise information about their status, said Jonathan "J.W." Postal, the founder and CEO of Nikola Power, a Denver-based startup battery technology company that's aiming to clear away the fog surrounding battery operations using patented software. 
The company owns four patented battery management algorithms developed at the University of Colorado's High-Capacity Battery Research and Test Laboratory. 
"We make the system act better and faster with battery management systems," said Postal, sitting in the seven-person company's new office in a downtown co-working space on 17th Street. 
With better information and management, Nikola's leaders say they think clients could buy a smaller, less expensive battery that still meets their needs, and use that battery 20 percent longer than expected. 
That means clients could get 12 years out of a battery expected to last 10 years. 
"Battery costs have dropped 70 percent since 2010, but they're still expensive," Postal said. 
The company in late 2017 raised $1.5 million in seed money from 13 investors, most of them from Colorado, said Postal, who has spent years in Colorado's clean energy sector. 
Postal was a co-founder of Boulder's Main Street Power, a solar power developer that signed several solar purchase-power agreements with metro-area school districts and government agencies several years ago. Main Street Power was sold to The AES Corp. (NYSE: AES) based in Arlington, Virginia, in 2015. 
Postal also has worked for Colorado's two big community solar companies, SunShare and the Clean Energy Collective. 
He started Nikola Power in 2017. It's named after a Serbian-American engineer known for designing the alternating-current (AC) electric system, which is still the predominant electrical system used across the world today. 
After operating for most of 2017 from the Postal family dining room table, the company moved into its new space in January 2018. 
It's goal is to help clients develop projects that combine solar power and battery storage, including working on financing the project ahead of time and managing the system after construction. 
Nikola Power's "special sauce," Postal said, "is the software that manages the batteries that come off the shelf."
Now, information about how much power a battery has stored, as well as and how much it's capable of spitting out on command, is unclear, said Evan Hung, Nikola's vice president for business operations. 
"Do you have 80 percent of the battery filled? Or do you have 78 percent? Or 75 percent," Hung said. 
"That information today is fuzzy, and our software will answer that and give you a better answer about the battery's ability to get the power out." 
The start-up company has filed bids on about 20 projects, and has made it to the finals for two projects, one in Colorado and a second in Alaska, Postal said. 
Postal thinks the customers who bought solar power systems years ago are ready for the next step.  
"And schools, utilities, and municipalities — they're used to solar now, and now they want to store that power."
Source: Denver Business Journal —
Evan Hung