YCombinator is the most prolific seed investor in the world. Their portfolio of hits include AirBnB, Dropbox & Stripe. They have now publicly committed to backing alternative energy investments.

YCombinator's Alternative Energy Investments

Contributed by | Megter

 

YCombinator is the most prolific seed investor in the world. Their portfolio of hits include AirBnB, Dropbox & Stripe. They have now publicly committed to backing alternative energy investments.

Megter’s research has shared 3 examples of them below.

 

Helion Energy

Helion Energy’s Nuclear Fusion Technology Includes:

  • Magneto-Inertial Fusion: By combining the stability of steady magnetic fusion and the heating of pulsed inertial fusion, a commercially practical system has been realized that is smaller and lower cost than existing programs.
  • Modular, Distributed Power: A container sized, 50 MW module for base load power generation.
  • Self-Supplied Helium 3 Fusion: Pulsed, D-He3 fusion simplifies the engineering of a fusion power plant, lowers costs, and is even cleaner than traditional fusion.
  • Magnetic Compression: Fuel is compressed and heated purely by magnetic fields operated with modern solid state electronics. This eliminates inefficient, expensive laser, piston, or beam techniques used by other fusion approaches.
  • Direct Energy Conversion: Enabled by pulsed operation, efficient direct conversion decreases plant costs and fusion’s engineering challenges.
  • Safe: With no possibility of melt-down, or hazardous nuclear waste, fusion does not suffer the drawbacks that make fission an unattractive alternative.

 

Bright

Bright is initially focused on the Mexican solar energy market & works like a solar subscription service. The details on how it works is given below:

  • Photovoltaic panels, better known as solar panels, turn the Sun’s energy into electricity.
  • Your solar panel plant “synchronizes” solar energy to make it compatible with your power grid at home.
  • A bidirectional energy meter is installed in your home and connected to the network to measure your energy generation and consumption. The energy your solar plant generates is subtracted from the energy used and what is left accumulates for the next period.
  • When you’re not using the energy your solar power plant produces, it’s transmitted through the grid to supply households in your community. During nighttime, when your system is not generating power, the grid will provide you with what your household needs.
  • You enjoy your own energy generated in an innovative, environmentally friendly and social responsible way.

 

UPower

“Our target demographic is people off the grid,” says Jacob DeWitte, UPower CEO and co-founder. “Think of remote communities in the Northern Arctic or Canada. All of these places that aren’t connected to large continental grids rely on diesel generators for energy. … We can bring them power in a small package and get them energy they couldn’t have before.” via Recode

IEEE Spectrum Reports:

Boston-based UPower Technologies, founded by three nuclear engineers from MIT, is betting that its very small nuclear “battery” can be cost-competitive with power from diesel generators used in remote locations. It’s one of a handful of companies creating new reactor designs with the hopes of improving nuclear power’s safety and cost.

By building a very small reactor, the company thinks it can test full-scale prototypes cheaply and meet a market need for energy in remote places, such as mining operations, island nations, or military microgrids. It expects that its reactor would generate between one and two megawatts of electric power. By contrast, a full-size nuclear power plant typically produces about 1000 megawatts.  

In addition to being small, its reactor technology breaks with the dominant light water design. In today’s power plants, fuel rods held in metal assemblies are submerged in water. The heat from the core is converted into steam to turn a turbine and generate electricity. To avoid overheating in the core, water needs to be constantly circulated through it.

With UPower’s design, the nuclear reactor would be placed in a tall cylinder buried underground. Rather than remove heat from the core with water, company engineers have developed a system that’s similar in concept to steam radiators.

 

About Megter

Megter provides background behind key business, technology, finance & policy issues. 

 


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