Cleantech Startups, Transforming the Energy Scene in San Diego & Beyond

The latest event of the San Diego Entrepreneurs Exchange (SDEE) on November 17, 2022 focused on clean energy tech companies. The event was at Joya Kitchen, which provided beer, wine, flatbread pizza, appetizers, and fantastic brownies. The event was made possible by our members and sponsors: Morrison/Foerster, Alexandria, Kyowa Kirin, Takeda, BDO, CRBE, Wagenknecht Law Group, Marsh & McLennan, Longfellow, Duane Morris, and MUFG.

Marilyn Ferrari, SDEE’s current president, spoke about upcoming events, including the Year End Social on December 13 at Stone Brewery in Liberty Station and the monthly Happy Hours at New English Brewery. Zach Johnston from Aquillius Corporation and Nik Chekshin from ANSELM gave their 30 second pitch.

The panel discussion was moderated by Jason Anderson, President and CEO of CleanTech San Diego, a non-profit, member-based business association that functions as a catalyst to promote clean energy solutions in San Diego by fostering collaborations between private, public, and academic institutions to benefit the economy, the environment, and the community. Grants from the private sector and from the state of California allow CleanTech San Diego to support SoCal energy start-ups.

Panelists were Elias Panasuik from Schneider Electric and the co-founders of three local start-ups: Adib Nasle, CEO of XENDEE, Tosh Dutt, CEO of ChargeNet Stations, and Cyrus Rustomji, CEO of South 8 Technologies.

Efforts to address climate change include electrification to reduce the use of fossil fuels, use of electric vehicles (EV), reduction of emission with novel software solutions, and efficient utilization of energy.

Because everybody wants clean power and energy, it is easy for clean energy start-ups to connect with people. In addition, the total addressable market is large at this point. However, shifts are difficult and always seen with a critical eye, and the audience conservative and risk averse. Thus, it is important for start-ups to build credibility and confidence in their technology. The necessary technology validation is costly, requiring large capital investment. Currently, federal and State grants, including the Inflation Reduction Act, as well as low interest loans, are helping the clean energy sector finance risky projects. Of course, these funds need to be spent wisely and with clear objectives in mind.

There is a tremendous opportunity to provide training and education to allow the transition to clean energy jobs, which are well paid jobs.

While lithium batteries are currently used mainly for consumer electronics, the next generation will be used to produce energy for factories, vehicles, and industrial and military equipment. New technologies should be distributed and used in an equitable fashion in wealthy and disadvantaged area alike. In San Diego County, the area north of interstate 8 is wealthier than the area south of it, and Cyrus named his company South 8 Technologies to stress the commitment to bring clean energy solutions to low-income populations.

EV are widely available nowadays but are still expensive because of the high cost of the batteries. In addition, the charging infrastructure is still suboptimal and better electrical grids to support the charging stations are needed. ChargeNet Stations addressed the charging station challenge by partnering with casual restaurants and installing charging stations in their parking lots. People can charge their cars while dining and put enough energy for 200 miles in just 10 minutes for 2 dollars per gallon equivalent.

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