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Meet our Member Heila Technologies: Microgrid Brains for the Future


If a microgrid is like an isolated body, Heila Technologies is its brain. In fact, “Heila” is Icelandic for “brain,” just to drive home the point! In the microgrid world, many different systems, including diesel, solar, and gas systems, need to work together to provide a steady source of power. This proves to be a challenge to operate because every microgrid employs a variety of equipment, each with different protocols and unique operating characteristics. Heila Technologies’ goal is to create distributed controllers, “little brains” that can be placed in front of each microgrid component. The company’s mission is to make microgrid systems smarter, simpler, and more modular.

The company was founded by an MIT team of students and alumni that was passionate about simplifying the construction of microgrids, and the team has seen considerable positive momentum in the cleantech world. They have won the 2016 Cleantech University Prize, organized by the United States Department of Energy, as well as the Grand Prize of the MIT Clean Energy Prize Competition.

About Heila’s microgrid controllers, CEO Francisco Morocz says, “It can sense changes in the system, and by directly controlling the energy assets, it can automatically react to these changes. In addition, it is designed to automatically learn from the daily operations of the microgrid to continually improve performance.”

Heila’s unique controls technology is especially valuable when microgrids are growing or changing. For example, an NGO in a developing country could be the perfect customer for Heila Technologies because the microgrid can evolve with the changing energy needs of the community. In fact, sections of a microgrid may be shuffled around from one village to another to share resources. With Heila’s technology, this transition can be far less disruptive than with conventional microgrid systems.

Heila Technologies’ pilot project is in a location you wouldn’t necessarily expect: a vineyard called Stone Edge Farm in Sonoma, California. The location was chosen because the vineyard owner is incredibly passionate about clean energy and wanted to be able to operate off the grid. The vineyard currently has 5 Heila systems (boxes that are roughly the size of a small desktop computer) and will expand to 7 controllers very soon.

Greentown Labs is thrilled to have Heila Technologies in our community and we’re eager to support them as they make progress in this exciting space. Microgrids are on the rise and the field needs a trailblazer to enable microgrid plug n’ play convenience for the rest of the industry and we believe Heila Technologies can play that role! Keep an eye out for updates about Heila—we’ll be sure to share them on Twitter @GreentownLabs.