Charlottesville energy tech companies join forces
Credit: Gracie Kreth, Charlottesville Tomorrow
Gracie Kreth | Sunday, July 29, 2018 at 7 p.m.
Sigora Solar residential customers will receive Lumin smart technology
Two Charlottesville companies are partnering to grow their business and raise the city’s profile as a hub for the renewable energy industry.
Sigora Solar’s residential customers will receive a free Lumin Smart Panel, a device that allows residents to remotely control appliances and analyze their energy usage and bills.
The companies connected through the Charlottesville Renewable Energy Alliance, of which both companies are members.
To truly harness the potential of renewable energy, multiple technologies will have to be developed and must work together seamlessly. For example, a project might need solar panels, battery storage and energy management tools to best manage a building or home’s energy use, said Charity Pennock, CREA’s director.
“The future will be multiple technologies working in concert with each other to transform our community’s energy use and generation,” Pennock said.
By pairing the solar panels with a smart panel, consumers are able to turn circuits on and off from their computer, smartphone or tablet — a feature that comes in handy if you forget to turn the oven off or you want to cool your house before you get home, said Madeline Ray, marketing manager for Sigora Solar.
Kevin O’Shea, Lumin’s chief commercial officer and co-founder, said the smart panel also can unlock useful data on home energy use. For example, it can compare the energy use of two refrigerators to determine which model consumes more electricity.
“You can detect faulty appliances, and we can also help you save money using the data to help you reduce your waste and the electricity you use,” O’Shea said.
Launched in 2016 as Coulomb, O’Shea’s startup announced in October that it was dropping its original name (“a little too obscure, hard to pronounce, and hard to spell”) and rebranding itself as Lumin while keeping the same mission.
O’Shea previously was vice president of sales for HelioSage Energy, a Charlottesville solar development company that was acquired by Coronal Group in 2015.
With its new partnership with Sigora Solar, Lumin’s growth is “just starting to take off,” O’Shea said.
Sigora Solar is one of the largest solar design and installation companies in Virginia. The company has grown rapidly across the state and into North Carolina since its founding in 2011. Its commercial clients include CFA Institute, Glasshouse Winery and Indoor Biotechnologies; however, most of its work is residential.
Because of the companies’ proximity to each other in Charlottesville, O’Shea said they will be able to work closely together to customize products for the local market.
O’Shea said the future of energy will be shaped by innovations at the local level.
“The traditional energy economy is changing,” O’Shea said. “What we will see over the next 50 to 100 years is a distributed energy economy [based on] local energy generation and storage. That wave is coming. It’s in its infancy, and it will soon be a tsunami.”
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