Chadwick Manning, founder of ElectriQ Power, wants to manufacture his battery and energy monitoring system in Puerto Rico
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Hurricane Maria not only exposed the fragility of the electrical system, which for years had been warning, and how expensive and slow is the process of raising it again. It also put Puerto Rico in the eye of the clean energy industry, which has seen the opportunity for the island to become a global model of renewables and microgrids.
ElectriQ Power was one of the companies that redirected resources or inventory to Puerto Rico in the wake of the hurricane, confirmed its co-founder and CEO, Chadwick Manning.
This startup -which specialized publications have mentioned as a competition for Tesla- launched to the market a system that integrates lithium battery, inverter, charge controller and everything necessary to store and manage energy in homes and small businesses.
The IQ battery can be charged with any source from solar panels and wind systems, to generators that use gas or gasoline and the electrical network. It has a usable capacity of 8.5 kilowatt hours (kWh)
“We are much more efficient than the other systems out there,” Manning said. He indicated that the main reason for this is that they are able to take the direct current (DC) generated by the solar panels to charge the battery directly.
The IQ system is expandable up to 100 kWh for each inverter.
“We have a design that allows a much easier installation. No piece of equipment weighs more than 70 pounds, “he said. In comparison there are batteries in the market that reach 600 pounds, he said, which requires more staff and specialized equipment to install them on a wall.
In addition to the equipment, Manning stressed that the company is technological, so the integrated software is an important differentiating factor. The purpose is for the system to make life easier for the user, so that he does not have to think about what to do or what to turn off or turn on in the event of a power failure.
“We are a complete energy management system, which optimizes the load (consumption) of the house or business to save energy and extend the life of the battery as much as possible,” he summarized.
In case of prolonged blackout or a system disconnected from the power grid, he indicated that “we can automatically start the generator to cover the load during the night and turn it off when the sun rises”.
In the meantime, the client can monitor consumption and energy projections from a screen (“dashboard”) installed as part of the system.
You can also access via mobile data collected by the system, including an analysis of how weather conditions can affect how much energy the panels produce.
Puerto Rico as a model
Manning, whom Forbes magazine included in his most recent list of 30 entrepreneurs under the age of 30 in the field of energy, acknowledged that Maria’s scourge made him change plans around Puerto Rico: “It was on my radar, but it was not an immediate priority. However, after observing the devastation and seeing the slow response to re-establish energy, “I prioritized Puerto Rico and diverted shipments to the island,” he said.
Before kWh commercial operations, he established contact with the Niñito Jesús home to donate and install a system that would allow them a certain normalcy to care for their residents from 0 to 7 years of age.
His local contact has been Puerto Rican lawyer Alba Giselle Reyes, who supports him in the process of setting up a sales and installation team that will initially have about five people, he said.
But your bet goes much further. “We want to start manufacturing in Puerto Rico. I think the island will be a model for the rest of the world regarding what an intelligent network can be, “he said.
“We are going to invest $ 1 to $ 2 million in the Puerto Rico market to achieve it,” he said.
On the financing side for potential clients, Manning indicated that the plans are to establish alliances with cooperatives and local banks, so that the investment in Puerto Rico is recirculated.
“Yes, we carry electricity, but we also want to empower Puerto Rico and support the creation of jobs,” he said.
On the possibility of scaling up his model to provide solutions for industrial operations or with greater energy demand, Manning said that “we are focused on homes and small businesses. But I’m not discarding it.”