Challenge: Many entrepreneurs have limited opportunities to demonstrate their advanced energy technologies to assist with first customer acquisition and market development.
Solution: To support the startup ecosystem and low-cost access to new technologies for local communities, non-governmental organizations and foundations could help fund small-scale implementation of fully developed and locally manufactured advanced energy products. On the business side, these demonstration projects could offer benefits such as customer development, permitting case studies, and hands-on training.
By seeing homegrown products in operation, potential customers and investors may be more open to purchasing products. Businesses also benefit from experience with navigating local regulations, such as permitting and interconnection. The opportunity to conduct performance analyses can help improve their business line. In addition to employee training, funders could require that businesses partner with local community colleges to increase exposure to trades in advanced energy fields.
Example: Smart City San Diego is a collaborative effort to build a twenty-first century energy ecosystem that improves public services, emphasizes energy savings, empowers consumers, and drives economic growth. Launched in 2011, this multi-year partnership is led by Cleantech San Diego, a regional trade organization, and engages the City of San Diego, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), General Electric (GE), and University of California, San Diego, among other partners. Smart City San Diego is working to deploy Internet of Things technologies through local projects.
These projects include solar-to-electric vehicle charging stations managed by SDG&E; a smart building demonstration site at the Port of San Diego that integrates technology solutions from OSIsoft, Black & Veatch, and SDG&E; and a partnership with GE, which includes San Diego-based company, Proximetry, to upgrade street lights with smart sensors for energy efficiency, traffic optimization, enhanced public safety, and air quality monitoring. A project that will replace 25 percent of San Diego’s outdoor lighting with LED technology is expected to save $2.4 million in annual energy costs.