Low-population islands such as those in the eastern Caribbean rely heavily on diesel generators. Even when the islands tap into renewable energy, the generators are typically still running so they can step in if needed.
Diesel generators are prevalent because while renewable power—mainly solar—is abundant in the Caribbean, energy storage is missing. That’s where Gridspan Energy comes in: the company has built the first-ever mobile energy storage system, which offers a promising alternative to the environmental and economic costs of diesel.
“It’s really the first mobile, versatile, grid-scale storage system,” says Alec Macklis, founder and CEO of Gridspan Energy. “You can move it via boat, truck, whatever, and it’s a 15-minute interconnection to a site that doesn’t require any local install knowledge. Any local electrician can pre-set up what it needs to plug into, and then it’s as simple as plugging in an electric car.”
Flexibility is particularly important in the eastern Caribbean, where energy needs fluctuate greatly due to factors including tourist season and natural disasters. Gridspan Energy’s battery system can be moved around an island easily, or even to a neighboring island.
“What we’re trying to do is use this flexible storage technology to lower the barriers of entry for storage in the Caribbean,” Macklis explains. “You need some flexibility and some deployable systems—right now there’s a huge need for roll-on diesel generators, and these can be an alternative to those.”
Gridspan Energy recently launched a pilot project in Anguilla, installing its battery system at the government headquarters, airport firehouse, and desalination plant.
In 2020, Gridspan Energy plans to raise its seed round, grow its team, expand its manufacturing capabilities, and install 50 to 100 of its mobile energy storage systems.
Gridspan Energy first joined Greentown Labs in 2018 as part of the Schneider Bold Ideas Challenge, a program run by Greentown’s internal accelerator, Greentown Launch. Macklis describes the program as “an incredibly transformative experience.”
“Greentown has been unbelievable,” he says. “It’s a good working space, a great community, and great resources. If there was ever any question I had about, ‘How do you do this?’ or ‘Who should I talk to about this?’ I would always be connected to people. And then there are all the membership perks of being here, the software and stuff, it saves a ton of money. Greentown has been incredible.”
Greentown Labs is a community of bold, passionate entrepreneurs creating solutions for today’s biggest climate and environmental challenges. Located in Somerville, Mass., Greentown Labs is the largest cleantech incubator in North America, operating a 100,000 sq. ft. campus comprised of prototyping and wet lab space, shared office space, a machine shop, electronics lab, and a curated suite of programs and resources. Greentown Labs is home to more than 100 startups and has supported more than 230 since its inception.